When the Going gets tough…

I’ve hit a wall. This was the last thing that I thought would happen to me. After everything I’ve been through, the surgeries, the meds, the pain, all of it, I knew I had to hustle and regroup and somehow get my shit together.

My last job was a toxic mess. I’d been bought in because of the old statement ‘That’s not my job’. All of the things that were ‘not everyone else’s job…’ became mine. So I set about working my arse off (for years) to improve processes, procedures and information and how it was communicated to the wider world. I had that beast humming like a Voice contestant on Grand Final night…

…And I left with my dignity and sanity torn to shreds by unchecked arrogant and passive-aggressive behaviours. I realised boundaries I’d been putting in place were being trampled on and there was no two-way street – there was just their way, or the highway. So I took my bat and ball and resigned the fuck outta there.

The members of my team had destroyed my self-confidence and my ability to complete even the most mundane of admin tasks. I invested wasted hours in a toxic world of Mean Girls playing ‘Gaslighting Roulette’ (“Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to another episode where we play the guessing game of what mood will Sally be in today? Will she trap us all in a world of passive aggressive sarcasm? Will Catherine be a bitch today and remind us all of our tiny little lives? Will she spend forty five minutes telling the boss her tall tales about her she’ll fuck off and get another job – as the rest of us cross fingers and take bets that maybe today’s the day!? Will the twelve year old millenial tell me how I’m doing my job wrong and will I pretend to give a shit? Cos the mask is starting to slip and I don’t know how long I can last before I flick her eyeball just to get a human response from her. But the number one question of the day is will my Team Leader fall asleep at her desk, only to suddenly realise that the end of month has somehow snuck up on her and she has to complete the report and is unable to do anything else for the next three days. And can I re-adjust my face to a blank slate that I can once again pretend that I don’t care that everyone around me is on a higher pay grade but doing fuck it. And all the whilst saying, don’t worry guys, I’ll answer all the phone calls since no one else has time to pick up a goddamn phone. That’s it, ladies and gentlemen welcome to the glamorous world of Local Government!”)

Bleugh! It was exhausting!! The delights of manic office behaviour! How Fun!!

I swallowed shit everyday and did it with a smile on my face. Every day my soul was dying that little bit more. And I told myself –  “We do what we gotta do for a higher purpose: the almighty dollar.” Sometimes you gotta swallow your pride and a multitude of sins to pay the rent.

Right?

That’s what I was told. Climb the ladder, work your way up. Be good, go to school, get a job, meet someone who makes you happy, get married. The usual. And you’ll get rewarded with a pretty house and an adequate husband and excitable children. So I got on the gravy train.

Right?

Well. It was not exactly like that. I find myself drowning on this gravy train, hoping for some steak. Something with real substance. Because this gravy is starting to get gluggy…

(Ok. No more silly analogies… promise)

I spent a long time thinking about how I was done with the toxic world of Local Government that I was living in and walked away from it. But it turns out the Universe was playing a cosmic joke on me again.  Because here I am, employed again in Local Government. Council number 5. 

Remember Kathy, Robin and Sara? Well they’ve been replaced by doppleganger neurotic types at my new job. These dopplegangers are not quite replacements – these ones have souls. And a sense of humour. But the environment is the same, the toxicity is the same. Their energy is the same. It filters through every part of my job. ‘That’s not my job’ filters through our conversations on a weekly basis.

And still I come back to the quote that the “Lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned.

So where does that leave me? I’m forty years old. The cliche is alive and well in me. The mid-life crisis, a breakdown escalated in a global pandemic.. This cosmic joke that defines all that has happened in 2020 is here to remind me that life is short. I’m done. My current job is teaching me that. I have a job to do. And this is not it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Suzi Sterel. Writer Extraordinaire.

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