Stepping Out of the Toxic Nest – By Pip Helix (Davin’s Den)

As anyone who is my Facebook friend can tell, I have been battling with angst, despair, depression, and bewilderment with my job for quite some time.  I used to have an enviable job, with the greatest boss and co-workers, satisfying work and a sense of security.  That is, until my boss got a better job, and I was moved up into her position.  That is when the SUCK began.
I had no idea how organized, smart, and efficient my boss really was until she left and they expected me to know how to do her job.  “WHAT, YOU DIDN’T GET CROSS-TRAINED?” our Evil Overlord bellowed, shocked to find out that just because a plumber and an electrician sit in the same office space, that they don’t know each other’s trades.  I must have looked wild-eyed and bewildered then, shocked by the unrealistic expectations.  I felt that way for several years afterwards, working during the day, working (unpaid) at night to work with the part-timer who was to carry the burden of some of the work while training me (which he was terrible at), and going to school to get certified in my field nights and weekends.  All the while having the Evil Overlord bellow directions my way, and unsure of whether what he was asking me to do was the right way to do things or not.  The stress was unreal.
Once I got a little bit more sure of how to do things, and I finished my schooling, they took away the part-timer and I was on my own.  Still, the Evil Overlord was calling all the shots and micro-managing things to a degree where I wasn’t really sure where my job began and ended, only knowing that the bellowing from the next office was probably for me, and the heavens only knew what weird journey we would be on each day, much less what the color of his mood would be.  I dreaded seeing his extension on the phone, ringing next to me like a siren in an acid flashback, terrifying, nauseating.
Things shifted, and there was a power struggle at the helm, when an Evil Banshee rose to power along with the Evil Overlord, and the clash of the Terrifying Titans was mighty and awful.  They gave contradictory directions, and whoa unto you who have done the “WRONG THING” in the eyes of one, and then the “MORE WRONG THING” by trying to placate the other.  I was a mess. I had become so used to the Evil Overlord giving orders, that when the Banshee expected me to be more self-directed, I literally did not know how.  I was seen as disloyal to each, in their eyes.  I don’t know how many times I cried at my desk. 
The Evil Overlord was pushed out of the throne after many years of dictatorship, and suddenly the Banshee was ruling, and riding my ass so hard that OSHA demanded that hand-rails be installed on my back for safety.  She was super demanding, determined to change anything that held the whiff of the previous tenure of the Overlord, and many were trampled under the weight of her ego.  I was terrified every day, angered by even the tone of her emails, the paranoid and  bizarre way that every syllable of my replies would be twisted and misconstrued as INSUBORDINATION!!!  More crying at the desk, and wondering what I should do to get out of hell.  Due to the very particular nature of my job, my training doesn’t cross over into other industries very well, and it would be hellish at this point in life, and with the bills we have, to start over at starting wages doing something else.
I admit that by this time, I had succumbed to the stress, and began to be easily distracted, easily wounded, depressed and inattentive.  Work piled up, and I didn’t know how to get out from under the piles.  I didn’t know how to take charge and battle with people who didn’t like that part of my job was as a gatekeeper, and meant having to say “no” to them.  The Banshee would ask me to make decisions on things that I had never worked on before, because the Overlord did those things and made those decisions, and then whatever I came up with was WRONG.  It became a never-ending cycle.
Unbelievably, the Banshee left for another position, and the other lesser gods shifted positions around, so that there was no one overbearing Titan,  but a writhing group of bosses, each able to direct me and assign tasks, with one with slightly more power than the others.  It became like working for an octopus whose limbs were cranky and ill-suited to being on the same body.  A fresh hell.
The new head honcho had the unnerving habit of smiling at you while staring directly into your eyes so intensely, you were sure he was reading secrets hidden behind your retinas. With this group, Mr. Stares and company, there was a new tactic in place.  These lesser gods would whisper in the corners, plot and connive, all the while smiling at your face.  Then suddenly, a memo would come down explaining what they had cooked up, without any warning, and each pronouncement was small to medium sized hits, but their cumulative effect would be cold and calculating, like death by a thousand paper cuts.  Like lightning strikes they would come out of the blue, the head of the lesser gods swooping in and while shaking your hand and smiling in a disarmingly creepy way,  would pull out your pancreas and eat it in front of you, while saying, “What’s wrong?”
I learned to dread the quiet surprise of The Staring Head popping around the corner to ask for an impromptu meeting, or to check on progress of a project.  Not that I don’t need to talk to my boss on occasion, it’s the way he sneaks in and just stares and grins that creepy grin, that sends shivers down the area where my spine used to be.  I feel burnt out, crushed by self-doubt and fear of the next accusation of not having my priorities straight by people who have no idea what most of the rigors of my job entail.
I am so close to reaching enough time put in to earn a pension when I’m old enough…ridiculously close.  I have been struggling to make my way to this goal, hoping that something will give to lessen the stress I feel daily.
A job opening!  My old boss let me know of a job opening that sounded like it would really suit me!  But I am so close to attaining a position at the old place where I will attain a certain status that makes me more secure in the job.  But there is the equally strong, and more likely case that I would not be offered that secure placement, and not only not get the placement, but be fired, because of the peculiar rules of my workplace.  So, my choice was clear.  Either stay and possibly have slightly more job security in a job that is making me physically ill, stay and not be offered that slightly more secure position and thereby be out of a job, or jump ship for the possibility of another life elsewhere.
I’ve spent more than half of my life working in one place.  I’m a nester.  I love some of my co-workers, and we are close friends.  I have many friends in the community there, and have known some people in the area for literally my entire life.  Leave the nest?  Wait to get pushed out?  Stay in the nest and become more stressed and depressed?
Against all of my nesting and hording instincts, I went for the new job, and after an emotional rollercoaster ride of interviews and doubts, have been offered and have accepted the new position.   I will be giving my notice today.  Don’t think that I’m not puckered in places I didn’t know could pucker, I’m so anxious about this big change.  I am so anxious about the reaction to my resignation that I can’t sit still.  I’m equally anxious about having to start over at a new workplace for the first time in decades.  The new boss seems pretty exacting, but at least there will be clear goals, no hidden agendas, no bellowing, and most of all, one boss to report to, not nearly 10.  No more confusion, or stagnancy due to infighting and unclear plans.  A clean slate, a new start, a new mouse pad and a slightly shorter commute!  I dare to hope to be happy at work again, and to feel accomplished at the end of the day.  It’s been so long since I felt those things.  To feel the warmth of the sun on my scarred ego after years in work prison, would be amazing.  I am daring to step out of my discomfort zone and see what is outside.

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