"I quit my job last week," I told my friend on the phone.
My throat started tightening. A sinking feeling crept through my body. I felt hollow. Empty. Embarrassed. Reproached, Humiliated.
REWIND: ONE WEEK EARLIER:
"Please don't make me leave," I begged quietly, trying not to be dramatic or raise my voice. I didn't want to go back to work, where I would have to face anxieties I thought I had under control. I'd rather stay at our family's vacation home, away from what I was avoiding. Anxiety circulated through my veins. There had to be another reason for my stress, but there wasn't. Humiliation had cracked me into pieces, leaving me exposed and vulnerable.
The truth is, something had happened that had awoken the beast of insecurity. One week ago, I had stood in front of the bathroom mirror at work, reciting my mantra: "Mind over Matter, A. Mind over Matter. Thoughts control your feelings, thoughts control your feelings, thoughts control your-" I coughed. The cough had interrupted my personal intervention, and the floodgates from my big, wide eyes blinked open. I looked at the ground. I couldn't handle seeing myself cry, especially after how hard I had tried to recompose and remain calm.
I started talking to myself. "What on earth?!? Stop it! Stop crying!! You've worked way too hard to let this ONE MINOR NEGATIVE COMMENT release an avalanche of bad emotions! THOUGHTS CONTROL YOUR FEELINGS, A!!!"
No matter how many times I said it, the tears weren't stopping. They kept coming. The only thing I hate more than teasing and disparagement is crying. To me, it is a sign of vulnerability. Not weakness, but instability. I compare it to boxing. When one boxer hits their opponent and they start bleeding or fall back stunned, it is the same as when one person hurls a verbal assault towards their victim and they begin crying. Just like bleeding and disarrangement give the boxer the sign that they could win, crying gives the tormentor the sign that they've established their authority.
The thing was that all my years of counseling had paid one part of this off: insecurity. I knew I wasn't what I had been told I was. For the first time in YEARS, I really knew it! I had the training to reclaim control over my mind by filling it with reality and facts. Such as, "You are always on time. You always do what you are told. You help when it is needed. You watch intently. You do your job to the best of your ability. The things you were told are incorrect, because they do not align with these facts."
So there. The insecurity part was gone. I was secure. I knew my facts. I knew my ability, and I knew I was good at my job. So why was I still crying?
I stood in that bathroom mirror asking that question to myself. "You aren't insecure. You just recited a list of reasons as to why you are good at this! Along with rebuttles to those comments. So why are you crying? There's no reason to cry- you are good!"
Then I realized it. I wasn't insecure. I was humiliated.
What I really felt was shame.
I was ashamed that this person had said all of these things in front of a crowd- people I consider my friends. I did not want them to hear these things that this person was saying and accusing me of. The comments were derogatory, and made me look and feel terrible.
I'm glad to say I did the right thing. I finished my shift, remained calm, and the next day, met with my boss to discuss what had happened and how it had made me feel. Two days later, I went on vacation for one week. And I didn't want to come back.
Even though the situation had been resolved, I still felt the taint of humiliation. It had dented me, making room for insecurity. Of whom I have no tolerance for already.
I went to two shifts once I got home. Tense, tired, afraid, and angry. My attitude affected my experience, that's for sure. And finally I asked myself, "When is enough, enough? You did your best to handle the situation, but you're still feeling stressed by it. What now?"
So I did the only thing that would lift the burden from my mind: I quit.
I thought that quitting would bring me more stress than working would. For days, I holed up in my room to avoid the world. I thought for sure my parents would be mad at me, and I couldn't handle anymore bad energy and scolding. If you are anything like me, you'll understand when I say that I am very good at chastising myself. I do not need other people to do it.
My friend waited on the other side of the phone. She knew there was a reason. So I told her what I just told you. And her words were remedial to my soul:
"It's not your fault."
I had told myself these words a hundred times. But having them spoken to me had a different effect. An affirming effect. A consolidating effect. It was the seal to my decision: enough was enough. I did what I could to the best of my ability, but I still couldn't handle the stress that came with it. Enough was enough, and quitting brought a peace in my soul that I didn't have earlier.
For you, I ask that you evaluate situations you can't seem to understand. When you feel upset, is it something you can resolve? Is it your fault you feel upset? I hate to say it, but I am a woman of my word: thoughts control feelings. So yes. But is there anything you can do to get rid of that feeling? Again, yes. There is always a loophole, and there is always an answer. I wouldn't suggest quitting, but in this situation, it was remedial and had a positive outcome. It was letting go of a rope that was giving my hands rope-burn. Is there anything you need to let go of?
All the peace,