Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Adieu

I don't usually remember my dreams, but lately I've been having vivid dreams that stay with me when I open my eyes.

The other night I dreamed that I was in bed with a man who looked a little like Luke; not his doppelganger but close enough to draw comparison.  The dream started after some kind of sexual intimacy had taken place (why oh why couldn't I have started the dream with the fun part of sex?!), and we were lying together.  Except we weren't really together; I moved into his arms and his body and he gave me a little hug and then re-positioned himself away from me.  I arched an eyebrow and said "Why are you moving away from me?" and he mumbled something incoherent, and I knew that we weren't really well connected, and that our intimacy wasn't deep.  Somehow, the dream then transitioned to the man throwing a party at his house, and all of his friends were showing up, and they were eager to meet me and to get to know me, though he was basically ignoring me.  I smiled at his friends, walked up to the man, and said, "I'm sorry, but this isn't going to work.  I want a deep intimacy and we just don't have it."  He was startled and said "But all my friends are here to meet you - isn't that what you wanted?" and I said, "That is lovely but it isn't going to work," and I calmly walked away without regret, and as I left the party - and him - I woke up.

I puzzled this dream a while, thinking at first that it was about my inability to commit or to be vulnerable in relationship, or maybe some kind of ambivalence about being in a relationship at all.

That's not it.

It's about knowing when it's not right, and refusing to settle, and feeling peaceful about that choice.  And while it might be about dating, I don't think it is.

I think that this is a work dream.

I have been in my new "dream" job for seven months now.  I have gained unprecedented success for the organization financially, and made amazing new connections, and had press coverage, and gained new donors, and created marketing materials, and brought in volunteers, and so much more.

And I'm unhappy.

I work from home, in an organization that consists of me, myself, and I.  I report to a board who is alternately distant and then - in a panic because they want to feel involved - micromanages.  The board hired me with promises ("professional development!" "more time off!" "grow the organization into a regional force!" "board involvement!") that they are backing off from at an alarming rate.  I had my six month performance review and they let me know that there would be no professional development, that they would not provide resources despite our additional financial gains, and that they would not get involved, and that they did not wish to grow.  I asked for more communication with them to strategize together, and their response was to ask me to send them a written report weekly (helpful for them, perhaps, but a very one-way form of communication that only adds to my work load and gives nothing in return).

They told me "Good job!  Great start! Well done!" but aside from platitudes, it felt very much like the hug-then-roll-away-I-don't-want-to-talk-or-snuggle-we-are-together-but-apart-and-this-intimacy-has-deep-boundaries of my dream.  The donors and volunteers have been enthusiastic in their support, and that feels like the crowd of friends excited to see me.

But in a relationship, I don't want to feel alone or pushed away, and I don't want to feel alone when I'm together with my other half.

In the dream, the part that is key is that when I walked away, I was calm, clear headed, and relaxed, without regret.  I knew that whatever he could offer, it was not enough, and even that it hurt.  I knew that I could not have what I wanted if I stayed, so there was freedom in walking away.  I did not need a crowd to want me, I needed the deep connection that wasn't there, so I left.

I am going to walk away from my job.

When I took this job, I knew that working from home was going to be a challenge: I knew that being alone in my basement would feel isolating.  I did not know HOW isolating.  I did not realize that I would not be able to 'leave' work, and that I would always feel responsible, and that my board was happy to let me take that responsibility on solo, taking credit but not sharing the load.  I knew it would be a lot of work, but I don't think I realized how unbalanced that work load would make me feel, or how much harder I would find it when I didn't have colleagues to brainstorm with.

It all came into clarity last week, and I've got to be honest, the clarity is painful.

I'm not where I need to be.

Since I asked for a divorce in 2011, I dabbled in the idea of returning as a teacher (substitute teaching for a while before I realized that I couldn't afford before AND after school care and so teaching wasn't a viable career as a single parent), returning to corporate America (with one horrific week as a vendor with my soul being sucked out of my body), my return-to-work-just-do-anything-to-pay-the-bills job of working in the jewelry business doing business development (doubled the business in a year and a half but bored me silly).  Then I got on my true path: fundraising at a dysfunctional little non-profit with a crazy boss, but growing that organization anyway and raising my professional skills, and then this new job, working for an organization that I love but which just doesn't suit me professionally.

All of this change is wearing on me, dear readers.  I want to go home.  I want to lie in the arms of the man who loves me.  I want to feel stable and steady, even as I grow.  I want a career that energizes me more than it drains me.

And I want colleagues, benefits, a great work space.  I want division of work and home. 

And "I want to be in the room where it happens."  (Is everyone else listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, too?)  I want to be an an organization that is making a big impact, and I'd rather be a small cog in a big organization than the biggest cog in a small organization.  I want to find mentors at work, and growth, and friends, and conspirators.  I want to be a part of something much bigger than myself.

I want water cooler talk, brainstorming sessions.  I want to work with people as committed to the mission as I am.  I do not want to work alone, with inappropriate resources.  I want to be able to grow as much as I want, with enthusiasm from my colleagues and bosses, not a message to stay small.

It's time for change.  Achingly, I admit this.  I need to change again.  I don't like change.  It's hard, and it's painful, and WHATIFIFAIL?WHATIFIFAIL?WHATIFISUCK?

But I'm not going to fail, and I don't suck.

I have my eye on a big company where I can use my skills.  I have my eye on it, and I'm not letting go.  I got my foot in the door once before, but couldn't get past the lobby (figuratively) because my career wasn't ready.  Well, my career is ready now, and I'm going to do this.  Maybe tomorrow (unlikely) or maybe in six months, but I am going to do this.

I am ready to rejoin the world.  My world has become too small, too focused, and I am lonely and isolated.  I'm ready to go to a vibrant part of town, to meet new people, to be a part of a team.  I'm ready to take my new skills and successes and use them for something that will change this world of ours in a big way, in my own small way.

I'm ready.  I am good enough.  I will find what I want.  So I'm leaving the arms of the good-enough lover of my dream, and heading out to find the lover that satisfies.  Jobs, lovers, it turns out it's all the same.  Who knew?!

***

Another note:

I'm not PollyAnna anymore.

I am an optimist.  I believe in grace.  I am hopeful.

But I'm not PollyAnna.

PollyAnna could content herself with ugliness and lack; she could take anger and loss and isolation and turn it into something grand; she could be expected to make something out of nothing, and to be happy when she received nothing.

Well, I want more than that.

I am going to keep being my optimistic self, but when someone hands me darkness and loss and isolation, I'm a grown woman, and I have the right to say, "No, I don't want that, and I'm going in a different way."

When someone hands me two shoes that match, I will not cry "Goodie!  Two shoes, not just one!"  I will say, "Thanks for the offer, but I'm holding out for a pair that fits my feet and my style.  I want something beautiful, and I can wait for it if you don't have them."  I have enough money to buy my own shoes, enough resources to find what I want.

When a man says "I will give you this much but no more," I will not say "thank you for what you offer" I will say "I cannot settle for less, because I know my own value."  I believe in myself, so I have no need to accept anything less.  I believe that the right man will see this knowledge and love me more for it, that it makes me a better partner.

When another job comes up, I will assess the hiring team, the working environment, the salary.  I will know to demand my worth.  I am not worth millions, but nor am I worth pennies. I do not have to accept their offers if they do not suit me.  I can hold out for what I want, because I know it will come.

I will be grateful.  I will see the good in the world.  I will forgive those who do not understand how little they offer me (present employer included).  I will not forget optimism, and grace.  (How I ever got from where I was to where I am now took a lot of grit and resilience....but it also took grace.)

I do not need to work alone.  I do not need to create something out of nothing.  I am allowed to request beauty, time, love, companionship.

Perhaps of all of the things I've learned in the past five years since my divorce, this is the biggest breakthrough of all.  When I refuse to make something out of nothing, refuse to get excited about scraps, it is not because I am an ingrate or I am not trying hard enough.  It is because I know my worth.

I am valuable also, and knowing my own value, I can hold out for what I deserve.

Goodbye, PollyAnna.  You served me well when I was subsisting on scraps and needed to fight for my survival; your survival instincts served me beautifully.  I wish you sweet rest, dear girl.  You worked hard, and you struggled, and you stumbled, and you kept picking yourself up and continuing.  I will always be grateful to you for that.

But our time together is done.  I am not you any longer; I am not a PollyAnna who will agree to less than she deserves.

I don't know how I'll get what I want.  I do know, at last, that I deserve it.

Adieu, PollyAnna.  If we cross paths, forgive me if I smile but do not stop to say hello.  I know you'll understand...you always do.

Onward!



2 comments:

  1. I'm a little late to this post. My summer flew by and I'm journeying through my own set of challenges and joys and I just didn't realize how long it had been since I stopped by.

    Journey is the word. It describes what you've done in divorce and shine blogs. Every day is an adaptation -- an evaluation. If one is self aware it is followed up by some fine tuning or even big changes. Your words resonate with me. Our circumstances may be different, but the themes are the same.

    I hope you'll be back -- if not here then somewhere else. Keep evolving and adapting -- keep reaching -- but, also, do flop on the couch sometimes and just be.

    Thank you for putting your life out there for us to see into. You are courageous.

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