Burned Out By The GameOh, I played it and played it hard. I gave it my all. I choked down pride, emotions and kept quiet and smiled in the face of being proverbially screwed up the *** on a daily basis by hateful mean people that only had their own self interests in mind. I took verbal lashings from the boss for being 10 minutes late while essentially working full time as a single mother with a sick screaming tyrant of a toddler. I watched my career go down in flames because I pissed off the wrong girl. I have watched my working life turned upside down by this economy. I have proven and reworked my career path twice now... and I STILL have to start over and prove myself again. I'm 36, I'm not 23 anymore. It's getting wearisome. The hard core drive and dedication and working late and being uber paranoid not to step on the wrong toes and making sure you seem strong enough to defend your opinion but not so strong that you come off as intolerant... and be quiet and don't say anything but don't be too quiet to seem to not care... any and all little "mistakes" can be perceived any way by anyone.
I've learned how to play the game. I've also learned how much sacrifice it takes to play the game. I've also learned that that kind of sacrifice can ruin my physical health, manifesting in unexpected way while simultaneously causing mental breakdown. My darkest hour was a night in January 2009. It was so bad that I dared not speak of it to any living soul... not even people I do not know. I broke down so bad mentally that I was not even in my own body. After that I cried hysterically for an hour. I was certain I was a worthless monster. Good for no one. Not even my own son. If there had been a gun in the house that night, I would have ended it. My husband stepped up after that night, when, in an effort to comfort me and assure me that I was a good mother, he verbally went through a list of all the responsibilities I held without his help. He helped a little more after that and I'm not sure I would have been able to hold it together and worked another 6 mos w/out his help.
I was laid off in July 09 and have not been able to get back into my field. Though I look, and know that the day will come when I have to step back into the office, I'm still recovering and almost kind of paralyzed by what happened with the last. I know what it's going to take to impress a new boss and keep things good between us. Maybe the next one will be a little more forgiving if I've had a rough morning with getting my son ready for school. Or maybe, now that my son is 5 and not 2, it will be easier overall. Intellectually, I know that a new job won't have the same people but the game is still the same and adding the stress back into my life is not something I'm looking forward to. Especially in that the work at home for me never ends either. I'm the one who keeps the house clean, who plans meals, goes food shopping, cooks the food, cleans the kitchen, puts the child to bed, pays attention to the child, pays the bills, makes the phone call for appointments, handles personal errands on everyone's behalf, does the weekly paper work for the school and communications with the teachers, the school pick up and drop off, taking my child for vaccinations ... (do you know that my husband has no idea where our son's pediatrician office is?)... I also am the one that has to get up in the middle of the night to manage the little one's colds and vomit sessions. I take care of the cars, get the oil changes, take out the trash, plan the bday parties and maintain our social standing in our community of friends and neighbors. I take care of our dog. I even take out the trash, get the leafblower out and bag the leaves in the fall and mow the lawn in the spring and summertime. The hubby works and comes home and relaxes. That's it. He refuses to do anything else.
So, for me, going back to work is going to be double and triple shift again. I'll get up at 6:30 am, run the rat race, come home and do the things that need to be done, get the boy in bed by 9pm, get the kitchen cleaned and lunch made for the next day and crash myself. The weekend will be spent doing things that I didn't have time to do during the week. All of it will be so I can be passed up for promotions at work or be pulled into an office to be told by my boss that I am "an overprotective mother rather than a diligent employee" because it will have nothing to do with my performance at work but because I average 1-2 days out per month staying home with a sick child.
I'm burned out.... it's why I'm not so ready to go back and do it all again. The very thought saps my energy completely.