The Empty Space of Time

I sat beaming on my therapists couch as I recounted the final days at my job. I put 17 years of growth, failure, tears and triumph to bed. As a fresh faced 25 year old I bounded into work each day because my clients needed me. Going full circle, in my mind at least, I was bounding out the door having given guidance and direction to the eventual service providers that would care for those clients 24 hours a day. I shared all my historical knowledge w the “newbies” in my unit. I bid my colleagues goodbye. Handed in my keys. Drove slowly out of the parking lot. The view in the rear view mirror bittersweet.
How do you feel, she said, bringing me back to the present. With only two days of “freedom” under my belt, I wasn’t sure I knew. It was all still surreal. I had worked really hard over the last two weeks to close out projects, so my final days (Monday & Tuesday) allowed me some space. I didn’t want to be riddled w anxiety and running around frantically. I also didn’t want to just stop being productive and leave things to other people. I was successful in my endeavor. Even solidifying one last project only hours before my departure.
As an Air Force Brat, saying goodbye was commonplace but I never became good at it. I work with some wonderful people. Not Spending 40 hours a week w them was hard to imagine. The laughter. The shared frustrations. The collaboration. The cohesiveness. All will be missed.
I reported that I learned a valuable lesson. Since my dramatic fall into bipolar disorder and subsequent diagnosis in the last 4 years, I have had to take significant time off. If I had to guess, all told, I would say maybe 12 months worth. I would hold on to the idea they absolutely need me at work and I couldn’t possibly go to the hospital. Inevitably I would push myself too hard and symptoms would become too extreme to stay safe. Hospital here I come, again and again.
The lesson, as I cleaned out my desk or passed along projects to coworkers, was the agency will most certainly go on without me. It never stopped while I was gone. The phone still rang. Emails were sent. Deadlines were met or they simply weren’t. I was but a spoke in the wheel. Helpful. Well liked. But at the end of the day, not necessary. So, in my wake, if any projects fall apart or if they are heralded, it’s not my fault.
A new work week has started. Here I am sitting on the couch drinking coffee when normally I would be checking emails. I feel a little empty. I had a massive panic attack over the weekend..seemingly out of no where. It was a great week of goodbyes, my birthday, sunshine, spending time w my husband. Saturday rolls around. Another good day. Did some gardening, some errands. Plans to make dinner. In the midst of that dinner making, my brain flipped.
The music was too loud. The lights too bright. The kitchen fan sounded like a helicopter hovering. I was dizzy. Seeing black. Breath shorter and shorter. Panic. Pure panic. Now on the floor trying to bring air into my body slowly. My husband was talking to me, but it was muffled noise. I was so confused. What had I done wrong? Everything felt right. Of course, it passed. 20-30 min later. I ate a bit of dinner and then my husband put me to bed..at 8 pm.
I have a month off in between jobs. Most people marveled at that. I mean how often does this opportunity present itself. I was so proactive. I restrung my tennis rackets as I used to be quite a competitor, until Bipolar came along. I fixed up my mountain bike. I made some plans with people. I bought some new running shoes. Got my paints out. This is my time to “figure out what I like to do.”
Yet, here I sit. Alone. Not moving. So scared. Scared of what? Time. Empty space in the minutes, hours, weeks and month ahead.

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2 thoughts on “The Empty Space of Time

  1. I’ve never spent 17 years doing anything, so it’s hard for me to imagine. I had a co-worker retire after doing basically the same job for 44 years. I don’t know how that is possible. … I hope the scared feeling passes soon, and you are able to spend some time taking care of yourself emotionally.

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    • Thanks fishrobber. Its an adjustment period for sure. It feels strange not to have a place to go. structure. People to interact with even if only minimally. Always appreciate your comments!

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