Monday, June 28, 2010

Letting the Coworkers Know

Stress level over the past 30 hours or so has been pretty high.

Yesterday afternoon, I had trouble bringing my work laptop, a MacBook Pro, out of sleep mode. The screen remained dark. For a bit I feared that the machine had failed entirely. Later on I got the idea to try requesting pages from the web server that was running on it, and I got responses, so the machine was not lost.

I later verified that this was the symptom of an issue that existed with the video chipset on the laptop, and that Apple was replacing the part at their expense. So the computer will be resurrected in some way, but at signficant loss to productivity.

One of the lingering questions that has dogged me since I started my current job, way back at the end of 2007, was when should I let my coworkers know that a change in marital status would take place. Over that time, I've taken very discreet approach. I talk about the kids, but don't mention much about X.

Last week, after the divorce was finalized, a feeling of heaviness began to sink in. I needed to dismantle the facade and at least admit that I wasn't married anymore, so I didn't cringe when someone asked me a question about "my wife" and I was evasive about details.

I decided to have a conversation with another manager with whom I have a pretty high level of trust. I knew that she had been through a divorce prior to coming to work with us two years ago, and had some inklings that it was a pretty difficult one. I gave her some basic facts. She said she had sended that I had been "off" the last few days of work.

I asked her if she had any advice to offer from her own experiences. She said that the divorce made her feel like such a failure that she couldn't bring herself to let her coworkers know and wound up quitting her job after the divorce was finalized

After I wistfully noted that quitting wasn't much of an option for me, given support obligations, she recommended that I at least tell my boss and the rest of my team. She also gave me the contact information of someone who had counseled her with her own divorce.

Later that day, I broke the news to them. I think my team didn't know what to make of it. One of them wondered why I had chosen this time to disclose. Another said that I had done an amazing job of not letting on that there was trouble. I made it clear to them that what transpired had its roots well before I started working there, just so they didn't get the impression that working there had been a factor.

I felt like the weight had been lifted, but I also still had an awful feeling. This evening, I felt restless and depressed. I finally tore into a huge pile of junk mail, newspapers, and other things that had been sitting on the floor for weeks, the aftermath of an earlier attempt to clear the clutter off of a kitchen table. I managed to put a dent into it, but I was feeling stir crazy and felt like crying at times.

I will get through this. I have to.
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