I would like to think that Axl Rose was tapping in the aimlessly wandering minds of millions and not trying to figure out where to score late night munchies while stoned when he sang the line, “Where Do We Go Now?” I’d also like to believe he’s still his thin, lanky late 80’s self as much as I’d like to believe I still look like I did in 2003 (oh my early 20’s prime!). Well, we can’t turn back time but we can certainly reinvent our personal road maps.
It’s funny how the tides ebb and flow in our lives. For the majority of mine, my romantic chapter has been a mess. Not like a I didn’t sweep the floor this week mess, more like an episode of Hoarders Greatest Hits. So many dysfunctional relationships shoved in such a small space! Now that there is finally peace and balance in that section, fung shee has wavered in others. I’ve not necessarily ignored it, but more so thrown my hands up in the air and said helplessly, “What can I do?’
Like a poison upstream, the toxins will eventually flow to other estuaries. The deadly mental goo wasn’t quite like Roundup with overnight conquers, but more like that houseplant that your aunt gave you that you tried your best to water weekly but instead watered it daily, then forgot to water it at all, and finally overwatered it like you were on an episode of E.R. – The Houseplant Files. (Get me a gallon jug of H2O – stat!)
I’ve not wanted to deal with this in public, but I feel like it will give me a sense of accountability. Like Stella got her groove back, I’m going to get my life back. My professional and my creative life. You will be my witness and that will drive me to victory knowing someone is watching, waiting (Not creepily. That sounded creepy.) It might be an ugly no-holds barred fight to the end, but I’m coming in this like Napoleon Dynamite and planning on leaving like Hulk Hogan. (Or the Rock. Isn’t Dwayne Johnson to die for?) Yes… let’s make that ‘I’m coming in like Napoleon Dynamite and going out like the Rock!’ Do you smelllllllllll what the Rock is cooking? (PS- for years when I was in the ugly romantic phase of my life I had hoped that was a personal dinner invitation to me from the Rock. No luck. Turns out he wasn’t asking me out.)
I’ve not been able to put my finger on one thing that caused it because there are many contributing factors. No one thing did this alone. While beach erosion can be caused by one massive washout of a hurricane, it can also be caused by one lapping wave at a time. Time marched on and waves slowly washed away the grains of sand in my professional happiness.
Truth be told, I have not had the easiest transition from independently owned to corporate life. Though some can march on seamlessly, it has been different for me. It took away the feeling of ownership for me. I didn’t personally own my place of employment, but when you work at a ‘mom and pop’ kind of business you feel like your voice is strong and loud, heard clearly at all times. In the corporate world, it has given me a sense of verbal meekness. I’m not trying to go all Stefanie Williams here because I still get my bills paid and I don’t think it is causing financial suffrage in my life. I’ve gone from being a fish in a little pond to a fish in an ocean. I just feel like I’ve moved from the driver’s seat to the back bench seat in a mini-van. I’m obviously still along for the ride but my voice doesn’t carry well over the radio and the people in the middle row. Those people closest to me can hear me, but the people up front probably forgot I was even back here.
Presleigh’s death was so overwhelming I sometimes have a hard time placing its impact. Was I like this to begin with? I’d always felt 110% committed to my job. Volunteering to cover empty shifts, coming in after hours when I wasn’t on call, skipping lunches, clocking in early and clocking out late were all part of my commitment. The being there all the time and the wanting to be there not as much blend together with her death, the corporate buyout and honestly the healthy relationship. Why would I want to spend long hours at a place that was causing me self-doubt and discontent when I was so much happier at home where I feel appreciated and loved? Up to Presleigh’s death, I felt like my career had my back. I had the training, the tools and the staff to make magical phenomenons happen. Then my own dog died. All of those times I was part of what felt like miracles and she perished in less than twenty-four hours. There were so many thoughts that could basically be summed up as, “If I couldn’t save my own dog, what business do I have working on yours?” I remember having such a sureness in myself. I knew I completed task and that I followed through on instructions. I double checked myself but never anything like what I do now which is like a quadruple check times fifty. I miss my confidence. People believed in me. I believed in myself. Was Presleigh dying the beginning of burnout/compassion fatigue or had it been slowly adding up all along and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back?
People come and go. Welcome to veterinary medicine. I always thought what would hurt the most was the people going. There are so many people who have contributed to my skill set. This whole section could be like an Oscar acceptance speech that keeps going on even with the ‘hurry the hell up’ music playing. When people go, you hold on to the good things they instilled in you that made you better. It’s a bittersweet parting full of sadness and thankfulness. With all the tearful goodbyes through the years, I never in my wildest imagination thought that there would be people I would regret working beside. I’m so lucky that in the majority of my time in this profession I have worked beside people who will build others up. Unfortunately, I finally did encounter those that bring you down. There are people out there who will not only sabotage your happiness but they will lead you to self-destruction. I had never been called lazy in all of my life. I had never had someone stare me down and insist I do something that was against our standards of quality care (side note: I still stood my ground and reported it). I could not believe that I was being treated like an uneducated idiot because I was a female with the letters LVT behind my name and not a male with DVM behind it. (Another side note: I know good and well I am not a doctor and I fully accept my training/schooling/experience is nowhere near that of a doctor. This previous sentence is more about respect than education. Rock on, doctors.) Unfortunately, all of these bad experiences happened at the same time one of my very favorite coworkers moved on. The poor beau. God bless him. It takes a strong man to watch his significant other cry over another man with a frequency of every night/ every other night/ once a week/ and eventually only occasionally and still manage to get her the Kleenexes every time without any negative feelings. Lucky for him, me and everyone, the existence of those hateful people were short in my life and I eventually recovered from the work breakup with said fantastic coworker.
To put a spin on Axl’s quote above, ‘Where Do We Grow Now?’ In my downward spiral of not feeling good enough, I began doubting that there were any more steps in my professional growth ladder. Not to dwell on the subject of The Departure Of Coworkers That Cause Me To Drink Heavily, but there are doctors in this world who will utilize a technician to the fullest and then there are those who treat you like you an illegal citizen who dare not dream of being anything but their personal maid and janitor. When it comes to the latter I’ve read about them, I’ve heard about them and as admitted above I unfortunately had to work with some of them. The kick-ass coworker that I sobbed over macaroni and cheese about was the super utilizing kind. I felt amazing about what I did because of the faith that person had in me and the tasks they trusted on my plate. Then, the one aspect of my job that I still felt like I was a powerhouse rockstar in, I was pulled from my ‘doing’ position and put in a ‘teaching’ position. In retrospect, this should have been a compliment (and in the end it was a blessing because I discovered it was the repetitive motions of this task that was causing my ongoing neck and shoulder pain). However, it just felt like being shit on by the man and I took it personally. Favorite coworker exits, not so great people enter, I feel like shit about myself, I linger on feelings about my dead dog, my work reason for getting up every morning is taken away from me. It was the Perfect Storm to start asking myself, “Where Do We Grow Now”. Was this the end for me? Should I start applying to fast food restaurants and accept that my veterinary technician degree was only suitable now for toilet paper or cleaning windshields (another new career option perhaps?)
I started dreaming of other jobs. Baking, farming, fishing, Nascar racing, Team Tanqueray’s Official Birdwatcher.
Okay, there is no Team Tangueray but if there was I would totally be their official birdwatcher.
Instead of dealing with the problem head on, I started doing exactly what I used to do in that Ugly Relationship phase of my life. I copied and pasted. Something not working out? No problems. Just copy and paste something over it. Tada! Not happy with your current job, dream of another, cut and paste.
It was over a month ago when I recognized the pattern and realized it was Operation Cut and Paste. I had been cutting and pasting my professional life away. It was then that I decided I was going to work towards change. I was going to be better. I was going to be happier. Operation Be Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was in full effect.
To Be Continued…..