I think you can probably call it a life lesson.
You might have wondered why there’s been nothing from Gorgeously Full Fat since September? Where do I start? Obviously losing Dad was MASSIVE. I watched him deteriorate slowly and spent more hours than I care to count up sobbing on my dear Moley’s shoulder. It’s not nice seeing someone you love going through that.
It’s just as bad not knowing how to help – my Mum was looking after him right up to about a week before he died and we were all worried about her almost as much as we were worried about him. I thought I’d done most of my grieving before he went; I was way off the mark!
While I was processing everything, I was distracted by the promise of a new job that was going to take me away from it all. I liked the idea of a new start. I’d let freelance work slip, lost a few clients that hadn’t been replaced and in all honesty I was ready to chuck it all in and go back to office world again. I was feeling bereft; I wasn’t useful to Mum any more, Dad was gone.
Moley was having issues of his own that I couldn’t help with and I wanted to run away. I started fantasising about getting my old Ipswich life back, a new job,a new home perhaps, social life and a chance to be near to Mum again. We saw a flat we loved, and put everything in motion to buy it.
I was excited about the thought of a new job and totally ignored the nagging feeling that I might not be doing the right thing. (sign #1) I put it down to nerves as it was years since I’d worked in an office. I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling but it was too late, I’d committed myself, everyone was so pleased I’d got a ‘proper’ job. I even bought proper work clothes!
I started the job in November. I was determined to make a good impression and to really make a go of it. We were going through the mortgage process, it was all going to plan although the fees seemed to be escalating and I was putting every spare penny into the house buying fund. We were both really excited about the move, it felt like a new start, and after the year we’d had, we bloody well needed one. So I ignored the sinking feeling when I walked into the basement of my new office building and started my two week induction (sign #2), I was going to damn well make the best of it.
The other newbies were really nice, which was a bonus. On the second day we all got taken to the area of the office we’d be working in…I was hit by a sense of OHMYGOD when I looked across at banks of desks, monitors and people in headsets. The phones were ringing continuously and the heating was up so high I felt a bit faint. I was going to be working in the civil service version of a call centre. And everything was grey (sign #3)
Then the flat fell through (sign #4) taking a whole lot of upfront fees with it.
Not such a Gorgeously Full Fat Christmas
Still determined to make the best of it, I headed up to where I was going to be based and got put with a ‘buddy’ responsible for training me. I was really lucky, he was very laid back, and I liked him, We spent more time than we probably should have done between calls talking about food, especially when we were on a late lunch break.
I went out with the team for pre Christmas drinks and most of them didn’t seem to like the job much, although everyone was really lovely and friendly, the impression I got was that most people would be off at the first opportunity. A lot of them had been transferred from another office and felt like they’d almost been tricked into it (sign #5)
Flexitime that wasn’t
I was really hacked off because not only had the move fallen through, but now I was going to be travelling to Ipswich every day, I realised that the flexitime was actually a rosta and the only shift I could realistically get in for was the 10-6. (sign #6) It was OK, though, the managers said they’d let me get in a bit late for the 9-5 and I could make up for it when I was doing the 10-6 shifts. Then they scrapped the 9-5 shift altogether and I was stuck on the late shift, every night (sign #7)
Then from January, the powers that be shut the waiting rooms on Bury St Edmunds Station for at least six weeks. It might not seem like much but when you’re waiting there for 30 minutes or more every day, and it’s bloody freezing, a waiting room is an essential. (sign #8)
The silent scream
Moley’s hero, David Bowie, died on 10 January. I was sad; I actually shed a few years, something I haven’t done for many celebrity demises, Then we lost Alan Rickman. That was a depressing week. Ashes to Ashes was the soundtrack of the entire week – not a happy song in itself.
“Strung out in heaven’s high, hitting an all time low” reverberated around my head. It was there every morning when I woke up, taunting me.
At this point, every part of my psyche was screaming at me to go back to the job I loved. But I had too many voices in my head telling me to do different things. And none of them were mine! I knew my family were relieved I had a full time job. Mum was happy I was back in the civil service and working in Ipswich, even though the 30 minute lunch break meant I never got to see her. Moley was pleased there was regular money coming in. Mum in law never really understood freelancing and was always keen for me to get a job in an office or a shop.
But my heart wasn’t in it. And I had Dad’s words on my side; he told me not to let other people tell me what to do. He asked me – OK made me promise – to sort myself out. And in the book he left me, he also said that his advice to me was to decide what I wanted – and go for it. I felt almost as if he was the only one on my side as I got more and more flattened by the job, the travel and the hours.
I would be in tears on a Monday morning sometimes. I couldn’t get out of bed; I couldn’t sleep either. Moley knew how miserable and tired I was; I didn’t want to go out or do anything at the weekend, the cleaning wasn’t getting done, only the bare minimum, and he was getting sandwiches for dinner. I didn’t do any food shopping any more. I wasn’t in for a Tesco delivery and I couldn’t face going to the supermarket (sign #9)
I’d sit on the sofa playing on my phone night in, night out, numbing my brain and trying to escape. I filled my days at work with endless cups of coffee and shit food to keep my energy up, I forgot what vegetables and fruit looked like but got to know the relative merits of every coffee shop and sandwich shop in Ipswich!
The doctor increased my happy pills dose. Did I mention I was on those? Never thought it would happen to me but a week and a half before I started the job I was still crying all the time and in no fit state to start a new career. The pills didn’t seem to help a lot but a couple of weeks into January I gave in and upped the dose (sign #10).
I went into work, afterwards by this point I was hating every day. I was so exhausted I was struggling to stay awake after about 3pm. I was up at 6.30 (usually awake about 5) out of the house at 7.30, waiting in the cold for a bus to the station, waiting in the cold for half an hour at the station for the train, getting into Ipswich at 9, at work about 9.30 with a take away coffee in my hand. I’d work on the phones until about 1.30, grab a half hour lunch (walk to the shop, grab a sandwich, walk back and eat it) then work through till 6. It wasn’t unusual to be there after six – my record was 6.30 as I was stuck on a 40 minute call. I’d walk to meet Moley who would drive me home and by the time we were out of Ipswich and I was home it would be 7.15 ish, I felt guilty because I couldn’t keep up with the little bit of freelance work I’d kept on so financially we were worse off with my train and bus fares!
I was often in bed by 9, tossing and turning. Four hours sleep was about average, six was a treat!
Tipping point – the last sign
So what tipped me over the edge? What sign did I actually listen to? Well, I was talking to Moley about having to go to work the next day and I felt physically sick, I blurted out “I just want to go back to freelancing”
I’d been wanting to say that for so long I thought I was going to burst. It was like a pressure building up inside me, I was being told so unequivocally that I should be writing. I’d had a day off and done some freelance stuff for a client and enjoyed being creative so much I was almost aching to get my old life back again. I missed being able to write and come up with ideas. I missed feeling useful.
Moley amazed me. He said he’d support me whatever I decided and I said I’d think about it for a week or so. Inside I was doing cartwheels. I forced myself in for another week and as I got out of the car on the Friday evening I said, “I think I’m getting a sore throat”
That was it. I had chills, a fever, aches, my skin hurt to touch and then I got tonsillitis and a cough. I’ve still got a sore throat two weeks later. I resigned last week, then this week after going in for a few days and feeling like absolute death, waking up at 4 in the morning and not sleeping again, taking far too many painkillers and wanting to sleep all the time, I saw the doctor. So I’m now signed off for two more weeks and when I go back I have a few days and I’m done.
Listening to my inner gut feeling would have saved me all this stress, When will I learn?
I have to say, the people I worked with were all lovely. Even the managers. I can’t fault any of them…it just wasn’t me, it felt wrong, and as if I was being forced to rethink from the word go. I also need to say that my darling husband has been amazing. He’s been 100% supportive and understanding. I was so happy when he agreed that it was for the best that I gave the job up, despite the fact he works all hours at the moment. I love him to bits, I suppose I never thought anyone would care enough to be so supportive. I’ll make him proud! I’m so lucky to have such a lovely husband.
So as of 26 February I get to start again. How lucky am I?
Anyway…that’s what’s been going on. Sit tight for the fun part!