Work-related stressure relief

I am at my part-time employer job today and enjoying it. Like, truly enjoying being here, working the work. While the terms of my engagement are relatively new, I have actually been working with this group for several months. As individuals, they are all very intelligent and it shows. Lawyers, yanno? But even the support staff – the paralegals and the receptionist/assistant – seem bright and eager up-and-comers in their own rights, supporting their teams and helping each other out where needed. It’s a supportive, encouraging, think and act independently environment.

So different from my prior firm.

Crossed paths with J this morning at the gym, and while we were talking about diet and food, he asked me a question that has stuck in my mind throughout this day. The question: did I feel like the changes I was making in my life with the exercise and self-improvement help with better choices with regard to feeding myself? At the time I immediately thought about the stress of the my former work environment and the stress eating that would occur so routinely. I was definitely improving, but still had a long way to go.

I honestly thought I had left much of that stressure behind when I went part-time and then told the owners I would be separating completely. But now that I have actually been done with them for an entire week, I recognize how insidiously destructive it was for me to stay. While last week’s Very Bad Incident made the decision for me, I was inching closer to closing that door behind me when it occurred. They have since hired a replacement, and yes, they have asked me if I would return to spend a couple of days training him (it’s a guy) on the software and where things are located.

At the moment, I am not inclined to do so for a few reasons.

After only a week away, completely away and disconnected, I feel like a different person. Yes, I am still struggling with the fallout from the Very Bad Incident, but I am coping better and am currently back to sleeping without medication. The nightmares are still there, but they are easing. Instead of dreaming of terror and fear of the homeless men, I am dreaming of falling, my typical dream when I am processing stuff as I sleep. Progress.

I now have had the luxury of time to focus on my self-employment clients to a greater degree and without feeling hounded or pressured by my calendar or my email. I do not feel harried by my phone ringing during the day, I do not feel overloaded by random texts from clients and associates needing something. Even my annoyance at the routine request for replacement documents that were emailed 2 days previously and somehow misplaced is greatly alleviated. I also do not feel compelled to work both days of the weekend because I fear falling behind and my evenings are lighter or more available to something other than work.

Most of the staff at my prior job were good at their jobs, professionals all, and I miss them. However, the owner was such a loon he made it difficult to be professional and to grow and become better at our trades. He is a small-minded person, preferring to focus on how long the staff were gone to lunch or chase after work we were unqualified to be awarded than allow me to implement steps to tighten up financially during lean times or periods of slow collections or discipline staff for genuine transgressions. In many ways it was the classic case of mom says no so better to ask dad, only in this case I would be trying to control expenses or curb poor employee performance only to have him overrule me and proceed with a purchase or promote bad behavior. Or he would publicly agree to something in front of the board/employees, but then privately reverse himself and tell me to do whatever he wanted in the first place. Since those decisions were typically financial in nature, they fell under the purview of shareholder privacy and were never brought up again. Such conflicts were so typical I grew accustomed to it and resigned myself with thoughts that it is their firm, their decisions, their rules. Such passive-aggressive behaviors ruled the office environment, and with me being the only person willing to challenge him on anything and then having to be careful in how I framed it, the job took more of a toll than I realized.

Now I am away from all that. The owners of this law firm are articulate and open about their desires and quirks, their vision for growth and profitability targets. Of course they are not perfect, but problems are brought up, discussed, and solutions decided upon. I am not always delighted with the outcome, but at least I had opportunity to share my viewpoint and feel like I am part of the decision-making process and implementation, far more copacetic with my workstyle. The atmosphere of this firm is radically different, and it feels like an actual professional environment. I don’t love everything about it, but I do like working for people with demonstrated character and commitment to keeping their word.

The difference is astonishing.

I think back to my years with my prior firm, and I recognize that I never once crossed the line and compromised my own integrity, but I continued to work with men who have none. They backed down and away when I insisted breaking the law was not in their favor even if they did not get caught or told them I would have to resign if they chose to go that direction. It takes a toll when you have zero faith in your employer and feel no inclination to trust them.

But back to the idea of making better choices, specifically with regard to food and stress eating.

I am less inclined to reach for that can of regular soda or a candy bar because work is insane that that seems the only thing that makes it make sense to be at my job. I am a lot less likely to leave the office for a burger and fries right now, preferring to bring a sandwich and sit in the breakroom and hang out with my coworkers the days I am here. When I leave here, the work and it’s issues and headaches stays here, unless I plan to work at home instead. Vast majority of the texts or phone calls I receive from this office are to related to cute pet or kid pictures and stories or invitations to do something fun.

When I am at home working it’s easier to avoid temptation because I have cleansed the house of junk food. Except … one of my clients is Greek and his wife made me/M some baklava. She says I “need” it because all the exercise is making my hips too little. I laughed so hard when he told me that, because she is such a sweet and kind woman without a mean or sabotaging bone in her entire body.

The baklava is going to be M’s problem, because as delicious as it looks and smells, it is not something I have trouble resisting.

So while my inner hamster wheel is running like crazy imagining the great drama of tracking what I eat for 5 consecutive days next week, I have been having a nice, uneventful week on the food front with no cheating or giving in to temptation. I have been out with gal pals a couple of days for coffee or lunch and done fine; no gratuitous sugar or heavy carbs have tempted me. J also turned me onto Stevia in the Raw and I like it so much better than the Truvia I had been using to sweeten coffee and tea.

I have new hope that there is a future with me not obsessing over what I am (or am not) eating and food choices. The diabetes management is a huge motivator, of course, but this endocrinologist-driven getting leaner thing has been weighing on my mind. Maybe the food tracking next week won’t be so terrible after all, not if it is of any help on getting me on a good and sustainable pathway. My hopes are high for a positive outcome.

6 thoughts on “Work-related stressure relief

  1. You never realize how much stress – and stress eating, etc – a workplace can cause till you leave! when I left my last employer the stress eating went way down!! Happy to hear the new gig is so much better and that you are done with the old place. The Very Bad Incident was horrible but in many ways the day to day to misery erodes at you in way you don’t realize and is cumulatively very damaging.
    btw – good luck on the food tracking! I did it for awhile and it was very eye opening. it helped a lot and I periodically will do it for a couple days to just refresh. but no one sees but me!

    • Thanks, SAK! My last firm – I give them a lot of credit for strengthening my backbone. Sometimes I think I’m pretty laid back, sometimes I’m fear I’m just a basic conflict-avoiding scaredy cat, but those guys made me recognize that I am never going to compromise my integrity just to keep a job. I have enormous sympathy for my former coworkers, because jobs in their field are tough to come by right now and many of them have young families to support. Without me in between the owners and bad decisions, things could get so much worse before it gets better. But thankfully no longer my problem.
      I am cautiously – CAUTIOUSLY! – excited about the food tracking. The dietician does seem genuinely invested in helping me figure out if I am eating too little, too much, or just the right amounts, so I need to be fair to both of us and do this right.
      Also, on the KB swings from yesterday? J demonstrated his ability with them this morning just to reassure me he knows HOW to do them, he simply chooses not to train them. Watching him do a few made me tired and makes me really glad we’re not heading there. But you’re such a gym badass these days you deserve the KB crown. Plus I trust you won’t let it slip away from your hands. 🙂

  2. LOL – I have a shirt (too big now to wear to the gym) that says – “Forget skinny I’m training to be a badass” We should totally design one ourselves though!

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