Once More Unto the Breach…

Well, this is it. My last week to myself. I have dropped my son off at school and have returned to my bright corner of the kitchen. The corner I have written in, morning after morning, for the past 15 months. My sanctuary. My silence. My home.

Next week, I will spend three mornings easing into work. By mid-October, I will have returned to the office full-time, with its cacophony, its milling people and voices and ringing phones and demands. And bosses.

Am I ready to go back? I’m not sure. I think so, or at least, I am no longer at the edge of whatever abyss I was at. I can no longer justify being on stress leave. I know the environment remains toxic, charged with politics and ambition and things that really don’t matter to me. That will never change, though it might be better in other offices. But I don’t have another job right now, so back I go. And I like to think that because politics and ambition and others’ priorities don’t matter to me, I will be able to stay outside them, disconnected. I’d like to think I will just go to work, do what I’ve got to do, then come home.

I’ve heard so many stories of people taking long breaks like I just have and returning to work changed, different, with a new outlook and new priorities. I wonder how long that lasts. Do they end up back where they started or have they really changed? I’d like to believe they are able to apply the lessons they’ve learned during their time off. I’d like to believe that I really will approach things differently. From now on, and not just for the first few hours or days or weeks.

I have a good friend who once took 18 months off work. That was five or six years ago. He still lives by the changes he made. He has a healthy perspective and healthy priorities – his family comes before everything. We used to sit next to each other before I went on leave and it would have been great to return to a workplace with him there, reminding me that whatever I might get into a tailspin over really isn’t all that important. Unfortunately, he’s gone on to greener pastures.

But I have some great friends that I will be returning to. Friends I can call on to remind me of my priorities. To prompt me to go for a coffee, a run, or to take a break. To remind me that the crazy stuff doesn’t matter. They are my allies in the sea of personality clashes, unrealistic demands and misplaced self-importance.

Yes, I’m nervous. But that will serve me well, too, I think. It will keep me in the moment, keep me aware of the decisions I’m making and hopefully remind me to check-in with my boundaries and with what I know is a priority for me, rather than just being blindly swept along by others’ interests.

And more than this, this attempt at positive thinking, returning to work will give me new fodder for my writing. And since writing is my priority, that can only be a good thing. Right?


Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…

In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man,
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, conjure up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage:
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let it pry through the portage of the head,
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide;
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height…

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit…

~ William Shakespeare, Henry V



7 thoughts on “Once More Unto the Breach…

  1. Oh my dear, my heart is with you. I quit the best paying job I will ever had back in 90’s because it was making me crazy. People who needed drama in their lives, would then create it and cast everyone around them in the play; people politicking and jockeying for position, inefficiency, fraud, waste, abuse, and on and on and on. I just didn’t have the filters or coping skills to find a way to exist in that environment and had to move on but I never completely recovered. It has taken me a couple of decades to truly learn what I can and cannot handle, and to really internalize the difference between surviving and living.
    Take your emotional pulse every day. Make concerted efforts to stay focused on what is truly important and hum a funny little tune to block out the noise of those very unhealthy people who will want to suck you in to their muck. I wish you the very, very best of luck.

    • Thank you, Maya, for your kind words and for sharing your experience with me. It is good to hear from others, especially if they have taken that plunge and survived to tell about it. At first I thought I’d only be off for a few weeks. Then when I realized I’d be off for a long time, I thought I would never go back, that I would find something I was more suited to. But nothing came along, and none of my searches turned up anything. So here I am, but I know I’m going back with a different outlook, understanding that my life’s passion will never be my job, but my writing. My job just gives me the funds and the freedom to write. That’s the theory, anyway. We’ll see how it goes. I like your idea about humming a funny little tune 🙂

  2. ‘And I like to think that because politics and ambition and others’ priorities don’t matter to me, I will be able to stay outside them, disconnected. I’d like to think I will just go to work, do what I’ve got to do, then come home.’ Oh, what’s so sad about these two sentences is that while you like to think them, it seems pretty clear that you don’t believe them. You seem like a sensitive person, you’re obviously well attuned to whats going on around you, and the problem with that, as I’m sure you know, is that even if you don’t want these things to get to you, they seep through all the same. But looks like you’re also seeing the positive, and the best we sensitive people can do is find the positive and pay attention to the triggers of stress to keep us from ‘getting swept blindly by others’ interests.’ Lovely post and best of luck heading back to work.

  3. So I was just wondering when you were going back–knowing it was soon, and I found I missed this post! Well, dear, please do use me for support as you need it. I think you will do great. You won’t go backwards on what you have learned….I have great faith in you 🙂 Can’t wait to hear how your writing changes as your work moves back into the picture…

  4. Sending you love and support as you ease back in. My hubs was displaced back in February and is just now contemplating entering the work force again. He’s been learning all that you outlined above and I’ll be eager to hear more stories as you embark upon the new you in the old spaces. xo

    • “The new me in the old spaces.” I like that! I was so worried I’d revert back to the old me, but so far I’m finding that I can approach things in a more balanced way, protecting myself and saying no when I need to. Good luck to him! It is daunting for sure.

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