Quitting the Man: 20 Days Since Freedom

Time for an update about what’s been going on for me since I quit my job. (Typing that just made me squeal with delight.)

Body falling to pieces

I mentioned in my last post that there was much sleeping and recovering. I hoped that would be the end of the physical-falling-apart part.

Not so.

Last week I wound up with a massive crick in my neck that lasted two days.

And three nights ago? I went to bed with a scratchy throat, which turned into sinus pain, sore throat, and a fever by the next day.

By my count, that’s three body things in a row I’m dealing with.

It’s setting off my inner hypochondriac. (I suppose the infinite reruns of House might deserve some of the blame.)

Besides the basic frustration of low productivity, it’s kind of scary, what with my history of using illness to have a legitimate reason not to do things.

I’m not aware of wanting to avoid anything in particular lately. I mean, it’s not like I’ve been trying to go to something scary like an in-person networking event. *shudder*

Crossing my fingers that it’s just a coincidence, or left over ick from coming down off of 10+ years in soul-sucking jobs.

Lots and lots of patterns showing up

When I came down with this cold, I became very aware of not being able to call in sick.

And then there was this domino effect of noticing several related patterns.

I was a sick time hoarder.

Whenever I had a job that included paid sick leave, I usually wouldn’t allow myself to use it when I needed it.

Either I’d save the sick days in case I needed them even more later in the year, or I’d save them to “call in well”. Yet, I rarely felt like I could justify a mental health day, either.

I keep trying to work even if I feel like crap.

Quite often, even when I’m not productive at all, I continue to sit in front of the computer.

A few years ago, I had shingles – shingles, people! – and at most I only took a half day off. And that was at a time when due to some corporate restructuring, I had quite a bit less than 40 hours of work to do every week.

Which brings us to…

If I’m being paid a salary, they own my time.

I’d been brainwashed convinced that if an employer was paying me a “full time” salary, I needed to be “available” at least 40 hours a week. It didn’t matter if there wasn’t work for me to do.

This one is big, and deeply ingrained. This is where sovereignty and deinstitutionalization become important. I don’t think I have much to share on that, yet. It’s still very much in process.

I have some warped views around self-care.

Somehow the combination of not having the option to use sick time, being sick, and noticing my own frustration that I’m having to rest more than usual made me realize this one.

Here’s my thought process:

When I’m not sick, I have a certain health baseline. Then, if I improve my self-care practices, I’m raising my baseline (in theory). But when I’m sick, I’m starting from a lower baseline, so the extra self-care, at best, gets me back to my lower healthy baseline.

All of which leads to some resentment around self-care while sick.

Yes, I know it makes no sense to look at it that way, but maybe some of you relate.

Hello, writer’s block

Once I got over the initial week of quitting, I had some ideas for larger writing projects I wanted to tackle.

Somehow I started thinking this new writing was different from trying to write for my blog while having a job. I had crazy expectations around my writing.

In the end, it’s not really different. I’m still me. And my writing is my writing.

How did I (start to) dissolve the block?

I talked to my support network, most of whom have been writing for a while. And they gave me permission to stop setting those expectations.

It’s amazing what a little permission can do.

This coming week-ish

Getting healthy! In fact, I’ve scheduled a nap and it’s on my calendar! Now that I’ve gotten a whole new awareness of my sickness/self-care patterns, it’s already easier to pry myself away from the computer.

More writing, I hope. I’m considering an Ask Victoria series. Have questions? Post them in the comments or send them via my Contact page.

Client sessions. Have I mentioned that my clients are the awesomest? Right now I only have two slots open for new clients.

Preparing to teach a class for Havi’s Kitchen Table group. Super excited about that.

Has the reality of this change set in, yet?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “fully aware of this new reality,” I’d have to give the last ten days a 3.

In the Not Aware column:
It still feels like this is some looong weekend. So long that Sunday Night Syndrome hasn’t kicked in.

In the Becoming Aware column:
Noticing the lack of sick time and the fact that I couldn’t work definitely had an impact.

Even though it was misplaced, I think the writer’s block was a sign that I’m aware that life is different, even if writing isn’t.

13 thoughts on “Quitting the Man: 20 Days Since Freedom

  1. Random Kath

    I totally know about the mindset of using illness as a legitimate reason note to do things. And trying to work even when feeling like crap because “they’re paying me for my time, so I need to be here.” I’m still trying to figure all of this out myself, so reading you (and Havi!) has been oh so helpful. (I’m a new reader!) Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  2. James | Dancing Geek

    Hey Victoria. Just wanted to send you a big “I hear you”. It’s really interesting how much of our identity, habits and assumptions are tied in with our job. It took me months after quitting my job to adjust to a different mindset, and I have a friend who is struggling with not having a job, despite reasonable financial security, because of the identity aspects. You have my permission to take as long as you need to integrate this new paradigm, it took me a lot longer than I thought, and had a much bigger impact that I expected.
    Plus, yay on all the stuff you have going on – congrats!
    .-= James | Dancing Geek´s last blog ..Antipode =-.

  3. Jenn Z

    Victoria, I appreciate your transparency here. There are so many areas that resonated with me here. Thank-you! :) I wanted to focus on two though:
    The Writer’s expectations are definitely something that froze me when I felt all of the sudden I was going professional with it. I thought it had to be perfect. Finally after courageously writing the first few posts,.. I realized that I could lighten up a bit and that would bring about the best quality content. It was tough though, seeing beyond my own pea-brain over stuffed head lol ;) I am learning even now that my only job is to yes, prepare somewhat but to mostly focus on ‘purifying that channel’ so that I can share openly from my heart. These make the best ripples out and have nothing to do with performing!

    I also especially resonated with you needing to have permission to let your expectations go! I still struggle with this a lot! I often tighten up when I need to be letting loose in those areas for the most growth and self-care to occur!

    Thanks for sharing! I think you’re making outstanding progress already! First the reality whoa! that you courageously initiated and then observation, and starting to find your new rhythm.. this takes awhile.. ;) you’re doing great!!
    .-= Jenn Z´s last blog ..It’s Not Perfect Until We’re ‘ALL-together’… =-.

  4. Tara

    Yes! Yes to all of it!
    So much of “quitting” my dayjob has been about quitting the habits, mindsets and funks that it put me in. Learning to work in my own rhythm has been the biggest challenge. And by that, allowing that “it will take as long as it takes”.
    What? No deadline? No angry emails demanding it happen before I could possibly complete it?

    I’m so glad to read that it’s a universal (or maybe it’s just the two of us!) sort of problem :)
    .-= Tara´s last blog ..Win a Learn to Knit Kit – help me name it! =-.

  5. Danielle

    I totally hear you, Victoria! I’ve gone through (and still am to a certain extent) all this same stuff when leaving my corporate job and then grad school (just another institution!).

    The de-institutionalization is a really for real thing! And, I’ve been surprised at how long the recovery actually takes. It really helps to talk about it and find others going through the same thing.

    Keep on taking care of yourself, girl. You totally rock.

    .-= Danielle´s last blog ..There is no place for guilt in wellness. =-.

  6. Briana

    Hi Victoria! I left my corporate gig just under a year ago, and can so relate to so much of this. But, I haven’t distilled all of the patterns & stuff that popped up with even close to the clarity of your description ~ you’ve inspired me to do some more reflection and digging around about some of the corporate-heebie-jeebie-inspired habits that I might be unwittingly lugging around.

    And… back in the early days of Gray’s Anatomy (when it was watchable), I was trying to catch up and watched most of a season on DVD in the course of a few weeks ~ holy hypochondria! I way overdid it and ultimately had to give up the show altogether. I’d say mix it up with something light & silly =)
    .-= Briana´s last blog ..This post has an ulterior motive. Oops, not anymore. =-.

  7. Victoria Post author

    @Random Kath – Welcome! Yes, these are big issues that I’m sure I’ll be working on (and sharing the process here) for quite a while. It’s definitely important to find people who can relate, otherwise one might feel as though one were taking crazy pills. :-)

    @James – Oh my goodness! It’s so wonderful to see you here, James! And I receive your permission to take my time with this. Thank you!

    @Jenn Z – It seems like letting go of expectations and giving ourselves permission are such common themes! Thanks for the encouragement!

    @Tara – I love how you said this: “So much of ‘quitting’ my dayjob has been about quitting the habits, mindsets and funks that it put me in. ” Yes! That is it! And from what I’m hearing, it’s definitely not just the two of us going through this!

    @Danielle – Man, this de-institutionalizing stuff is hard. And now that you mentioned school, it makes me realize that I’ve probably got even more layers of gunk to shed than I thought. Yer damn right, people need support to get through this stuff!

    @Briana – Oh yes…I’m officially off of House until at least next week! ;-) It’s funny how I was thinking, “Oh yeah, no problem,” as I watched hours of it. And then suddenly I kept catching myself wondering about all the random stuff my symptoms could be about. But the pattern-noticing stuff? That’s definitely the result of Dance of Shiva. Also, I totally love the phrase “corporate-heebie-jeebie-inspired habits.”

  8. Fabeku

    Sorry about all the body stuff.

    Not. Fun. At. All.

    And I can definitely relate to what you’re saying here.

    When I left my corporate gig, it took me way longer than I expected to shake the patterns I picked up there. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve totally shaken them all. And it’s been years since I left.

    Sometimes I still find that I push myself to work too hard or too long or cram my schedule as full as I possibly can. Because it’s my responsibility, or something weird.

    These patterns run deep, don’t they?

    Here’s to you and me and all of us shaking this craptastic stuff for good.

    And the House thing made me giggle. After I started watching House, every single time I’d get sick I’d swear it was lupus. Gee, thanks Dr. House.
    .-= Fabeku´s last blog ..Now That’s Ninjarific #3 – The Do Epic Shit Edition =-.

  9. Julie

    Hope you’re continuing to feel better, Victoria. I personally am afraid to ever “let down” as I have a history of getting sick as soon as I do. (That’ll be a heck of a pattern to unravel…)

    The “giving yourself permission” thing is *so* hard – I have been struggling with this big time lately, and that’s just because I’m finally noticing the pattern.

    Congratulations on all of the wonderful stuff that’s happening along with the hard – you really are an inspiration!

  10. Julie Stuart

    Hi Victoria,

    Wow, what a point you are making! I had *almost* forgotten the six months or so I spent recuperating my adrenals after I left a job I loved but a boss I didn’t. I had so much resting, detoxing and recuperating to do as I worked through all the emotional layers of how that experience affected me.

    There was a lot of movie-watching, chocolate-eating couch time, along with self doubt and having no clue as to what to do next. And now here I am–because I had that previous experience and the decompressing afterward–and I can look back and be extremely grateful for the road traveled.

    You’re wise to listen to your body and the signals it’s sending. And to be in touch with your beliefs around self care. Very smart girl, that one! *I said that in my best Yoda voice
    .-= Julie Stuart´s last blog ..Got a business plan that makes you smile? =-.

  11. Victoria Post author

    @Fabeku – These patterns really do run deep. I’m sensing that I may need to work some more on releasing any sort of time table I may have about when this stuff will lessen a bit.

    @Julie – Oooh…the permission is *so* hard. Good for you for noticing it! Even that is a huge step in the right direction.

    @Julie Stuart – Haha…the Yoda voice. That totally made me giggle! And thanks for confirming that what I’m dealing with is completely normal. :)

  12. elizabeth

    Reminds self to not watch House. Or Grey’s Anatomy. I already google random symptoms (don’t); this sounds like it could be just as bad. (Also, I am the kind of person who – after reading an article about prostate cancer – was firmly convinced I had prostate cancer.)

    I spent half of November sick because what I needed to shake it was rest – and I was trying to work while being sick so kept getting much worse. So, I feel your pain. That’s so great that you’ve identified your views around self-care – hopefully just the awareness alone causes things to begin to shift. You are in inspiration!

    I hope you’re feeling better!
    .-= elizabeth´s last blog ..the root of everything is love =-.

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