Funny how an innocent little Facebook chat with a former coworker can bring me to tears.
Especially when I’m already feeling useless.
Talking with an old coworker (“T”), a junior engineer who started the week before me and who I’ve stayed in casual contact with, he mentioned casually, half-joking that one of the senior engineers, call him A, thinks that I left engineering because of him. T wasn’t sure if A was joking when he said this, probably was somewhat..but people don’t typically make jokes if they aren’t at least partially based in truth.
This seriously brought tears to my eyes. Because A was one of my favorite things about working at my engineering job. A is an amazing, brilliant, analytical guy who thinks a lot like me. I loved working for/with A. My absolute favorite projects of all time were working with/for A. He was the perfect balance: respectful but guiding, giving me responsibility but also giving me the tools to use it wisely, correcting while still building up, and really letting me have the freedom to innovate and develop and put my name on things. Working for my three lettered friend was insufferable. Working for A was incredible.
And he thinks, at least on some level, that I left engineering because of him.
My old job was a small, close-knit company. Me leaving with no explanation was shocking to everyone. Especially my structural group. And it makes sense that there’s speculation about why I left. Especially since I think a lot of people thought I’d be leaving for a very short-term time, to get some minor medical thing under control. Even though I never said that. They just cannot imagine what kind of long-term illness could keep me away this long, or permanently.
I don’t blame them. Until it happened to me, I couldn’t think of a long-term illness keeping people away from their jobs forever, unless maybe losing a limb or sense. People have a hard time visualizing long term illness. For most people, you get sick, then you get better or you die. One way or another, the illness ends. They can’t picture it not ending. And I’m still alive.
So it doesn’t surprise me that there’s speculation.
But it doesn’t make it easier to hear that one of my favorite coworkers is blaming himself, to some degree. Wondering if he made it too tough for me to “want” to stay (the implication being that I really just left because I wanted to).
It also doesn’t help that people are doubting that I had medical reasons for leaving. Like I just lied to them all and didn’t feel like it anymore.
Which is hard since I *still* feel like I didn’t have to leave. And that I’m just being lazy now. And that everyone feels this way about their job, and I’m just too weak to handle it.
None of it is fun to hear, from an external voice or an internal one. And I’m not sure how to process it.
I’m not sure how to pick myself up. I’m not sure how to find myself now. I’m not sure how to feel proud of my current life. I’m not sure how to find good in myself.
And I’m not sure I can do it while I’m still grieving the life I wish I was strong enough to could have.