Pausing My Life, Part Two

When I left off at the end of part one, my boss was becoming very ill but was still at work.

Her decisions had started to become dodgy and unreliable, a complete reversal of character and ability for her.

I needed a rest from the demanding situation and took my summer holidays, and while I was away, she suffered an embolism and was suddenly gone. It was extremely and very mercifully quick.

I rushed back to a funeral, a dazed and grieving staff, including three new hires, and a huge workload.

Despite the fact that everyone knew she was terminal, people were shocked; many had bought into the notion that she was curing herself through traditional medicine, a modality in which she had such complete faith that it bled over to others. (I believe. Do you believe? Or something like that.) The new hires were more shocked than anyone, since they hadn’t been aware that she was sick.

As a group, we started putting one foot in front of the other, and got on with it, in spite of feeling sad and stunned. We got going again; we had to. The work carried on.

I was placed in an “acting” role and I set about the business of wrapping my head around all the things that needed to be done. There were a lot of them.

In the meantime, however, a coup was fomenting. A couple of people who were “grieving” on the surface were planning to put their chosen candidate into the head role – a chosen candidate whom they could control.

20 days into my new job, I was sitting in my temporary new office at my temporary new desk, bordering on letting myself slide into a private little collapse. I perched on the edge of my seat, white knuckling the desk’s edge, breathing hard and teetering on the verge of just walking away.

I had a few hostile employees who wanted to replace me. Others were angry at my boss for dying, and for telling them that she was getting better when she wasn’t. We experienced all the stages of grief like we were on a rocket sled.

No one had any idea how much had to be done, the timelines involved, and the contingencies needed. People kept materialising out of nowhere, demanding everything and taking responsibilty for nothing. Criticism hung on the air like a fog. And, there was the imposter factor. I kept thinking that I didn’t know what I was doing, that I was a know-nothing kid dressed in her mother’s work clothes, that I was in waaay over my head.

So I did. I pressed pause. I shut the door to my office. I set the phone to voice mail. I sat, and I meditated.

After I got rid of the ex-narcissist out of my life, I had learned meditation from my counsellor, and in this maelstrom of work and emotion, I had stopped doing it. I needed to get back to it.

I took a break, I re-grouped, and I fought my way through it, day after day and week after week.

I focused on what was going well: top notch support from head office, a supportive spouse and friends and faith in myself.

I won the permanent position. I got my staff in line; the ones who are discontented are moving on, and new ones are coming in. But it was a hard slog and I had to get tough. The staff who failed in pursuit of “their” candidate were angry and bitter.

It’s getting better now. The learning curve angle is beginning to soften, and a good team is starting to develop.

But pausing my life? Yes. It’s necessary. Sometimes you have to stop, take a look, and decide if this is where you should be, if it’s for you. A realistic self-examination is key, not just for yourself but also for those you work with.

That’s something that I learned from this, both by watching it and by experiencing it myself. Being able to recognise your weaknesses and consider them is not shameful, and being realistic about your strengths isn’t shameful either.

What is your opinion?