We’re just past a year since I had to quit my job. I’m still looking for employment. Over the course of that year I have agonized repeatedly over my failure to hold a job for even a year. I’ve gone over discussions, arguments, in my head obsessing over how much of that failure was my fault versus my boss’s. I’ve often wondered if things could have gone differently, or if I’m just unemployable. There have been instances where I thought I had achieved some kind of peace with the situation, resolving that my boss was just an asshole and it was best for me to give up the fight rather than live with the constant stress that working with him gave me. However, shortly later I’d just feel I was lying to myself and that I was in fact worthless and wholly to blame for how things turned out. I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights worrying about my future and my blame for it.
It’s a rare, sweet gift to be liberated from so much doubt by something other than just time.
You see, I received a very unexpected phone call recently. The young woman who ended up replacing me had tracked down my phone number and wanted to know if I had any advice on dealing with this dreaded boss. It seems that in eight months she was just about where I’d gotten in ten. She had many of the same complaints about him that I did. Sadly, I couldn’t offer much advice; my solution had simply been to quit. It was interesting to hear that she’d taken matters as far as the HR department with no improvement in sight, showing me that even trying different things probably would have done me no good. In the end, I could only advise her not to leave until she had another job lined up (she was surprised to hear that I, a CPA, was still looking for work) and wished her the best of luck.
It was amazing how different I felt about that. Previously, whenever I thought about my time there it was accompanied with anxiety, anger, and panic. Recalling the name or face of my former boss would drive up my blood pressure and send me in an emotional spiral of self doubt. Now, he’s simply a person. A very sad, very unpleasant person. No longer a person that embodied my failings as an employee, failings that leave me doubting I can ever have a viable career again, but just someone who it was a mistake to work with in the first place. Even now, days later, I just don’t think that much about my time at that job anymore. It simply was something that transpired with no emotional bearing on me at all.
I celebrated that night. Drank about three quarters of a bottle of Bacardi 8 that I had lying around before I started throwing up. I remember dumping out the last portion of the bottle at one point. Not because I wanted to save myself from being drunk again, but because during the call the young woman informed me that someone I used to work with at the place (ten years earlier, when I was an intern) had passed away recently. It was a kind of libation for the dead thing. I was drunk at the time, but the guy had taught me a lot about what I now know of auditing.