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Reads Books and Tries Not to Cry

Reads Books and Tries Not to Cry

Job Summary: Reads Books and Tries Not to Cry

This would be the job summary I have been looking for ; “Reads Books and Tries Not to Cry.” This is the only work I seem capable of. It is the level of skill I am comfortable with and the level of stress and responsibility I am willing to take on at this point. Maybe things will change, but I’m living in the moment, and it’s a pretty dark one.

My last job, real job, was the one I wanted for the longest time. I dare to use the words “Dream Job.” Truly though, I’d wanted to work in medical genetics forever; since I took high school biology. Ultimately I left this job in an embarrassing disaster spiral. Haven’t we seen it before? Reach too high, fall too far. My resignation was not a well thought decision made with dignity. I jumped ship as if it was the only thing I could do to save myself, and maybe it was.

From the start, I had little complaints about my job here and there, mostly they presented as idle gossip with a colleague. The only other person who actually had to come into the office. My boss was micromanaging me from behind some Oz-like curtain in her mini-mansion home office. She came into the office maybe six hours a month. My training involved her being there for a whole day. There were days when there was too much to do, and others when there was too little to do. I browsed the job boards. The other options didn’t seem much better. This was when I came up with the ideal career. “Reads Books and Tries Not to Cry.”

Pressure was mounting for me at this time. Being in the office alone left me feeling isolated. I had relocated for this position, and now I was sitting in a cubicle by myself making calls and tapping away on the keyboard all day. I didn’t know anyone else there, and this wasn’t the way to meet people and advance in the field. I was an answering machine and paper pusher.

And I got sick. I don’t know if that’s the right wording. Maybe “I developed a condition.” But, no this was something I spent time nurturing that then took form in my body. It was sudden and horrible. I am now about eight months into this, and I don’t remember what my body felt like before discomfort. Its shape has morphed. Its stamina has declined. My priorities have changed. I was not prepared for this. I just wanted my mom and dad at that point. Dream job be damned.

I didn’t so much as develop an action plan, as I had a breakdown and drove off not knowing what was next. Only knowing this was not sustainable. The mind is a complex magical thing in its power and in its weakness. I gave into the panic. I dropped off the man I was seeing at the airport, went home and threw some things in a bag, hustled my dog into the car, and drove 18 hours without stopping for sleep. I imagined the panic would lessen the further away I got from the job and the life I failed to cultivate there. In some ways it did, but I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I hadn’t really made the decision to fully quit yet. I hadn’t backed up my apartment. I had like two outfits and a dog. This was not adulting. This was not the rationale of a healthy mind. Here I present Chronic Pain and Isolation as the culprits. This would not have occurred without them. Or this is what I tell myself. Did the pain, a diagnosis of a chronic nature, act as the straw that broke the camel’s back, and left quitting as the only option? That’s possible. Is it also possible that I, or maybe my subconscious, saw this unfortunate condition as an out, and used it as an excuse to run? Maybe

Maybe it was all just too much for me. The trappings of adulthood weighed on me, and I buckled under them. My body screamed out for help, and I felt pain. I’d always been anxious. If I fought with panic so often, I guess it was only natural to assume that it would win once and while.

The end of my eighteen hour getaway ride left me in my childhood bed, exhausted and uncertain of anything. I might as well have been in the womb again. The lack of planning immediately landed on my shoulders. I emailed my boss about the break I needed, and requested just a couple days off. I text messaged the man I was seeing, and told him about the silly impetuous thing I did. I didn’t want to alarm anyone, despite the fact that I felt like an alarm myself. I was formulating a more manageable, practical plan, or at least trying to. It was difficult at times, because I am doing all of this while I am in pain, and feeling incredible anxiety and depression. The three were spiraling and blending. The plan: drive back eighteen hours, return to my position and relationship, live in my apartment, and wait for my lease term to end in September. I imagined it as taking one deep breath and then diving back underwater, for three and a half months.

The night before I was to head back I told my family I wanted to go out for ice cream. We went to the place near my old apartment. As we ate outside I felt like a man on death row. The panic that encompassed me was outsized, but I had no control of that, or at least I didn’t think I did. I got in the car the next day with some snacks to help through the long hours, my loyal terrier in the passenger seat. I got on the highway. I started to feel hotter and hotter, finding it harder to breathe. My hands were shaking. I made it almost an hour, and then I pulled over. I called my parents. My dad in particular. He knows anxiety. I needed his okay for what I already knew I was desperate to do. He told me to come home.

A relief and a failure. I call it my implosion. I wrote more emails; to my supervisor, to HR, to my apartment management team. I had to explain something that was beyond words. It was a mental health crisis. I had to find insurance coverage fast too, because mine would end once I sent that email to my supervisor, and unfortunately we were also dealing with a crisis level medical condition.

It happened “slowly, then all at once,” as John Green says of falling in love in The Fault in Our Stars. Gone was the dream job, the independence, the inklings of new love. Cut off the branches to save the trees. I remain in rubble. I have found that I am potentially employable, but there are many missing pieces. The idea of a before this version of myself seems impossible. I have always liked to read books though, and who can’t be reborn from a good cry?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Karen Michelle C