Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wake Up Call

Ever since I broke up with the Boy, I have been absorbed in my work.  Not because I enjoy it, and not because I want to do it, but simply because it has to get done.  We are in the middle of a huge system implementation and it is going live on July 1.  I am the Director over the entire project.

They schedule me in meetings all day long, so I started working evenings to answer e-mails and try to get some of my own work done.  When working in the evenings wasn't enough, I started working on the weekends.  It is my only opportunity to get several hours of uninterrupted time where I can actually feel productive.

At first, I didn't mind working the weekends.  It was like my secret weapon to get a head start on the week.  But now, it feels more like a necessity than a choice.  No matter how hard I try to get caught up, I immediately fall behind again.

These past few months, I have really been struggling to find meaning in my life.  Maybe it is a mid-life crisis, or maybe I am just ready for a change.  But the bottom line is that I hate my job and I hate my boss even more.  All I want is to be left alone.  But the pressure just keeps mounting.  It has gotten to the point where I can't fall asleep at night, no matter how tired I am. 

Last weekend, I was at the drug store picking up some Motrin when I noticed the sleep aids in the same aisle.  Normally, I try to avoid taking any medications unless I absolutely have to, but I ended up buying one of those natural sleep supplements, just in case. 

Later that night, I laid in bed restless.  As I watched the clock turn midnight, I couldn't stand the idea of another night spent tossing and turning.  So I reached into the bedside table and took one of the sleeping pills.  All I wanted was a good night's rest so I could face another day at the office.

I turned out the light and waited for my body to drift off to sleep.  Within about five minutes, my heart began racing.  I felt like I couldn't breathe.  I got out of bed and started pacing around my room.  Thoughts were flying around my head.  Whatever was wrong with me, it was completely my own fault for taking that pill.  I wondered if I had done any permanent damage to my body.

I called my mom and she took me to the urgent care.  The entire time, my heart continued racing and my body was quivering.  After some tests, they were able to determine that I had experienced a temporary adverse reaction to the sleeping pill.  The longer I sat in the exam room, my symptoms started to subside.  The doctor gave me some medicine to counteract the pill and I went home to bed.

The next morning I cancelled my meetings and slept in for a few hours before I turned on the computer and started working again.  As I sat in my robe, feeling shaky and weak, I realized that something in my life has gone seriously off track.  Here I was 12 hours after a major health scare and I was right back at the computer as if nothing had happened.

Most people are able to set some kind of boundaries when it comes to work/life balance.  Yet as my workload expands, I just keep adjusting my life to make more time for it.

It is hard to understand exactly what drives me to work so hard.  The best explanation I can come up with is that I have a strong sense of obligation to complete the task at hand.  And I am extremely tenacious.  I can't just walk away when there is work left to be done. 

But I have reached a point where working hard no longer gives me a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment.  In fact, it makes me feel empty and resentful.  This job has taken so much out of me that I barely recognize myself anymore.  It has obliterated my social life, robbed me of my sanity and now it is putting my health at risk.

Every day, I fantasize about walking into my boss's office and quitting.  But I am not sure that is the best way out.  If I leave this job, I will just go to work someplace else and eventually I will end up in the exact same position.  I have to find another way.

Tonight I left work on time so I could go to yoga class.  I started taking yoga a few months ago and it is one of the few things that has really helped me.  Yoga is about moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you really are.  And over time, practicing yoga should allow you to see the world more clearly. 

After my yoga class, I felt refreshed.  As I walked out of the gym, the warm breeze swept across my face.  I looked out ahead of me and noticed the rows of flowering trees that lined the path leading to the parking lot.  I stopped for a minute and grasped one of the branches so I could inhale the sweet fragrance of the delicate white blossoms.

There is no way those trees burst into flowers during the hour I had spent in class.  They were there when I passed by on my way in.  I just hadn't noticed them.  It is amazing what we are capable of seeing when the mind is unburdened.

Someday I will quit this job, but it will be on my own terms.  For now, I need to learn to care less and not try so hard.  Until I find something worth caring about.


Anonymous said...

The paragraph about the trees is beautiful. amazing what we can see when we take a minute to breathe.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for yoga - if only there was a way to find that place of stillness when we are laying awake in the middle of the night!