Just breathe…! My mantra of late.
With a little over a year under my belt in my current job I had thought I was now a pro at sussing out my boss. As it turns out, I had been little more than conditioned to simply take the bullshit and get on with it.
Everything comes in threes and last week my triangle was completed.
It began Wednesday, turning up to work and telling my two desk buddies that it was going to be a horrible day because ‘boss’ was going to yell at me. I hadn’t made any mistakes or done anything to piss her off, it was simply the only day that week that she would be in the office and, experience told me, I would be deafened for it as usual.
My desk buddies laughingly brushing it off ended at 1.10pm when I arrived at our usual lunch spot late and in tears.
After being yelled at to get into the toilet cubicle so that ‘boss’ could yell at me in private I stood with my legs to a toilet as she blocked the door and swore at me for being busy that morning with deadlined work for my other boss, her equal in rank within the firm.
Defending myself I calmly explained that my other boss’ deadline was 1pm (as I had already told her) and I couldn’t interrupt that to add the minor amendments ‘boss’ wanted in the letter she was sending out at 3pm. (I’m talking adding two commas to this letter…it was interrupting for interrupting’s sake!)
When there was nowhere further she could go on this point she swore at me for a box of files at her desk. To which I explained she still needed to go through that box before I sent it to storage.
When this fizzled she simply told me she was very mad at me with a few F-bombs for good measure, then walked out of the cubicle.
I walked back to my desk, picked up my bag and contemplated getting the tube to Heathrow, if only I carried my passport as standard for ID.
A day of simultaneous shaking and bursting into tears at my desk my anxiety rash was back on my neck and I organised a meeting with HR.
The next day I organised a meeting with HR and our Staff Partner. After more than a year of this same routine I would no longer work for her.
That was One.
Thursday was anxiety-rash filled and contained fewer tears until I decided retail therapy with a friend might help.
I had broken my favourite pair of flip flops tripping over nothing in River Island meaning I had to walk around Oxford Street barefoot until I found a new pair I liked – which, it turns out, I don’t like any new flip flops these days. They’re uncomfortable and weird (who the hell wants straps up to their knees when wearing FLATS?!?) I am having money troubles and this is the last expense I need.
Then, while stood outside Debenhams waiting for my friend to come back from the restroom, leaning against the window smoking and staring at my broken shoe and bare feet, a random guy decides I’m the perfect tragedy to call fat.
Kick me when I’m down, fucker!
He walked up, said “Well, you’re a fatty!” and walked straight past smiling and looking back for my reaction.
In shock I could only muster “you’re kidding me right now, right!” To which he burst out laughing and shouted back “keep eating bitch!!”
Well fuck me did I crumble.
My friend came back from the toilets to see me shaking and crying and wanting to run away but I had a broken fucking shoe!!
It was my first week wearing a skirt – in about 7 years – in public let alone to work. I had worked so hard to feel comfortable enough for this and then BOOM, down she goes, because of the last twat of the day.
I got an Uber home because I couldn’t handle walking barefoot down Oxford Street anymore and I didn’t want to face any more of the public for fear they’d make me want to walk into traffic. When I got home, I stripped to my underwear, stood in the front of the mirror and broke down.
Crouched on the floor in a bra and pants I shook from sobbing so hard, asking the universe for mercy. I couldn’t do this anymore. I couldn’t keep picking myself up and trying to love myself then being slammed down out of nowhere. I couldn’t keep living like this. This wasn’t life. How was this possibly life?
This wasn’t going to make me stronger, I had been getting stronger. This was a game to someone. I was powerless.
I cried until my head was exploding and then I slept. About 3 hours.
Friday at work I barely spoke. My friends knew what had happened and tried to help, but at lunch I chose to sit alone as I cried on the phone to my sister. Refusing to eat, I smoked for my lunch. I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours and I never wanted to eat again.
I honestly crashed.
Thinking of it now, and reading it how others may read this, I was throwing myself a huge pitty party. But I needed to cry.
I needed to cry for everything the last year had put me through. I needed to cry for the girl that had been treated like a dog by her boss for a year and had come back to it every time like a puppy does. I needed to cry for the girl that stood in front of the mirror and tried to like herself every day. I needed to cry for the girl that was struggling with money so badly that having her flip flop break was the last thing she needed right now.
What I hadn’t realised was that I was noticed so much.
It had been noted how strong I had tried to be over this year. It had been noted how much I tried to find confidence in myself. And it had been noted that seeing me completely broken down left my entire group of friends terrified for me.
Later on, after work drinks where I hardly spoke, I was at the pub with two of my close girl friends and my closest guy friend, all from work. I didn’t know what to say or how to smile, I was numb, so my friends said everything to make me feel better.
It wasn’t until my guy friend, after much internal debate, said “I wasn’t going to say anything, but then I saw how upset you were at lunch and how badly this has affected you because of your past…” – he then broke the ‘guy code’ and told me what the guys in the office say about me at our firm’s football games. I burst out laughing and his work was done.
I don’t believe him, I’m not sure I’m capable right now of believing it, but it was nice to hear at the time.
I spent Friday drunk and hungry with friends. Saturday sunbathing and laughing with friends, and then we dyed my hair pink again. And Sunday I slept.
Today, my anxiety rash was back and my shakes were in full force and I realised I need to leave my environment.
This isn’t me.
I’m not someone’s secretary, or their dog as I have been this year. I’m not a desk girl and I’m not a skirts at work girl, no matter what heat.
I need a plan, and today I realised it; I’ll stay for 8 more months (after last week, that feels like a lifetime), save as much as I can, and travel to Canada.
I’ve always wanted to see Canada and if I want to work there one time in my life, I have to do it before I’m thirty.
I turn twenty-eight in a month. The clock won’t pause while I think.
Running away might sound like I’ll never fix anything, but I don’t run away, I run towards.
I’m running towards my future; I just can’t do it with only £1,800 in my bank (and a maxed-out credit card I’m wishing I’d never paid for last year’s trip to Bali on!). That’s a ticket and a months rent, I’d fail before I left.
Saving and making sure I change my working environment within work is my daily plan. Surviving the day is also my priority. But having a goal, and a plan to go with it, time will fly. And then I will.