Wednesday, 9 July 2014

It's not me, it's them

Since I left my PR job last year, I have had a niggling worry.   I knew the woman I reported to on one of the particularly stressful accounts I directed during my time there, lives around the corner from me.  Conscious that I have been holding back a lot of pent up anger about the lack of support and understanding I received at the company, and shame about my failure to make my role there work - I spent considerable time mulling over what I would do and say if I were to bump into her.  

Last week, literally dripping in sweat from a particularly humid hike, I was almost home standing at the traffic lights waiting to cross the road and there she was.  For a fleeting moment I thought about turning around and taking an alternative route but I chose to face the situation instead.  When she saw me I couldn't detect ill-concealed alarm or antipathy towards me, in fact she broke into a broad smile that reached her eyes.  Her first words were "Wow!  You look amazing, so happy and healthy!".   Typically I might have dismissed this as a fake greeting but as I was mid-detox and feeling pretty damn good post exercise (despite my sweaty face), I took the compliment as I believe it was intended.

We stood on the street for a long time chatting about the company and what has been happening there since I left 10 months ago.  Hearing that practically the entire account management team has left in the past few months, and that she too was leaving imminently for a new job, despite having been an evangelist for the business, was a revelation.  Suddenly I didn't feel like the freak who couldn't hack it working in PR in Hong Kong, instead I realised the problem didn't lie with me, but with the company.  In therapist talk I suppose I have finally found peace and acceptance and can at last close the door on the entire episode.

When I got home, I immediately received a whatsapp message from her saying how great it had been to see me and suggesting we meet up for a glass of wine when she returns from travelling in a couple of weeks time.  Regardless of whether a meet up materialises or not it was a considerate gesture.

It is strange how these moments you dread often take an unexpected turn.   What I had imagined may be a confrontation had morphed into a reconciliation.  It also stressed how much my life has changed in the past few months.  All at once it struck me that I genuinely am happy, content and fulfilled and for the first time in years I don't feel stressed... at all!  And it shows on my face.  People who I haven't seen for a couple of months keep telling me how happy I look.  Eeyore's rainy cloud has shifted and been replaced with sunshine and long may it last!

That was then

This is now

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