For the almost 6 years that I spent sick and out of work, I missed a lot of things. One thing I missed most was working. For better or worse, my work was closely tied to my identity as well as my self-worth. I was always known as a hard worker, most of the time I was the best at what I did among my peers, and it wasn’t always about money. I actually got off on the feeling of accomplishment. My last great job before I got sick was a great opportunity for me. I got to be a part of the higher-level decisions, I made a good living and I was able to turn my role into one that actually helped people. I wish that the company never closed. I was busy as a one-armed paper hanger but I was comfortable and relaxed about my position and confident of my worth.
What I didn’t know was that in the series of unsuccessful jobs that followed, I would learn something about myself that I hadn’t realized before. I was a neurotic and paranoid knucklehead once taken out of my comfort zone.
I don’t know when it happened. I was always confident, cocky even. Then, suddenly I worried about what other people are doing, about perceived inequities, that I wasn’t getting treated fairly. I was never mean-spirited or petty, I just cared about things that previously had not occupied my mind. I suppose when my entire life was collapsing as I dealt with divorce, foreclosure, and kidney failure it naturally follows that I would be a little insecure, even paranoid. After all, when I go to a football game, I don’t think, I KNOW that they’re talking about me in the huddle.
Now that I’m healthy, relatively unconcerned about money, and too low on the totem pole at work to worry about being knocked off, I worry about the neurotic side that has emerged.
I am a Recovery Case Manager. I work with people trying to recover from addiction. There are no performance metrics other than documentation. The rest consists of managing your own caseload with empathy and efficiency. There is no competition, we all run our own affairs with adherence to general protocol and a lot of individual styles. Management is supportive and largely hands-off. And I am fucking good at it. My clients are well-served and have everything they need handled. So why do I care how many cases the woman who started after I did has? Why do I immediately assume the worst when my manager sends me a simple email telling me that they want to go over something with me? Why do I have to remind myself that by all accounts I am doing really well?
I can handle a lot, and my job gives me a lot of satisfaction. I sure don’t do it for the money. So why do I always wonder if I’m in trouble?
I hate this side of my personality. I love my job and I am really really good at it. I wish I knew where it came from so I can stick a stamp on it and send it the fuck back where it came from.