I feel fine. My snot fountain is still turned on, I’m still evening time coughy and wore out and lazy feeling, but all of that is fine, I can handle it. The worst part is not feeling productive.
And wow what a mind fuck that is. Let’s talk about why exactly it is cause the more I think about it, the more it bothers me. I know I can’t be the only one that feels this when they are “sick” so I have been thinking about this a lot.
Then I try to put myself into this same position that I’m now, but working a regular 9-5: sick, positive for Covid for over a week, low levels of energy and my brain ain’t working quite as efficiently as it could be. Like, I can function, but I’d rather just be a lump.
Well, to put myself into this imaginary position, I thought about the way I went about things whenever I took a “normal” sick day when I worked for other people.
First of all, it was extremely difficult to even make the call to “call in sick”. No matter if I had a fever or was throwing up or couldn’t take, I felt guilty 100% of the time I’ve called in sick to work. No exageration.
So once I’d get over that hump and made the call to say I am too sick to come in that day, I’d try to go back to sleep.
But I couldn’t because my brain wouldn’t shut up about all the things it wasn’t doing. So I would get out of bed and do stuff to get it to shut up.
I’d push myself to sit there and work on my computer as a way to assuage my guilt for being sick. I needed my employer to see that even if I wasn’t there, I was still valuable to them.
I even made it a point to tell them this when I called in sick. I’d say things like, “I am not feeling well, so I won’t be in today. Don’t worry though, I’ll still make time to get _____ done.”
Fill in the blank with whatever project(s) I was currently stressing over. And I’d do them. Sometimes I’d do more work at home, sick, than I would in the office, well.
But I still felt so fucking guilty every single time I called in “sick”.
And I know what you’re saying, probably. You’re saying, “Hey, Jacki, you didn’t have to do that. The sick days are there for when you’re sick – to help you recover, rest and restore yourself.”
To that I say, HA! And then I will tell you a short story:
Once upon a time, I worked for retail chain. This retail chain held multiple parties every year and I was in charge of planning and executing them. I loved this part of my job, because I am very good at planning parties.
However, these parties would consume my life, literally. My free time at home would be spent making decor, coming up with games, creating lists and signs and all sorts of things. I just didn’t have time to do all the party stuff on top of my normal day to day job, so at home it was.
Now, one time during a party planning period, I’d been having some female troubles and went to the doctor. The doctor poked around and then said I would have to come back to get some of the inside parts of my lady bits scraped out. With no anesthesia or numbing beforehand, which is another mind-blowing thing that I will discuss at another time.
Ain’t no way they’d scrape the inside of a dick without some painkillers at the very least. Just sayin’.
So, I have a party coming up, and I know the next few weeks won’t work for this test, so I schedule it for the day after the party and take the day off of work in advance, because I knew I’d be beat and scraped up and wouldn’t want to drive anywhere.
The party was a massive success, mega attendees, massive sales As they all were… save for one at the beginning before I knew exactly what I was doing. Gotta learn somewhere, I guess.
The day after the party I did not go into work and didn’t text them a reminder that I wouldn’t be there, because I had put in for a day off after the party and it had been approved.
I got the scraping done and they were like, “Yup, lumps and bumps, nothing to be worried about though! Just keep suffering!”
And I was honestly surprised at how much taking this test took it out of me. I was laid out for the whole weekend. I had to take antibiotics to prevent infection and those don’t sit well with my tummy, so I knew I was infor at least a week of nausea too.
But I went back to work with no issue, ready to take on a fresh week and kill it!
Sometime in the afternoon on my first day back, my superiour asked me to have a chat with them in their office.
I figured it was a recap of party successes or a new project or something like that, so I bought a notebook and my plannin’ brain.
They asked me to close the door behind me, which was unusual, but I did it anyways.
Here is the first thing they said to me, after I killed myself with unpaid overtime to make a party happen, spent some of my own money to create the games, and got my insides scraped out and was still feelin’ it, but went back to work anyway.
HERE ARE THE WORDS THEY SAID TO ME:
“So, I guess we’re just not coming in the Friday after a party anymore, are we?”
The words are BURNED into my brain. BURNED. I will never forget the rush of blood that came to my face when those words were said to me.
Without giving me a chance to respond, they continued telling me that was an unacceptable action and I should never do that again. They kept harping on this.
I sat there and took it and tried not to cry, unsuccessfully. That’s one of the worst things about my brain, when I get angry, the tears come on. It’s so embarrassing. I hate it.
I calmly told them that I took the day off, with their email approval in advance and that my time off was clearly marked on the calendar in the back room.
They just laughed it off as a mistake.
But I never forgot it. I never forgot the look of glee on their face as it felt like they “caught” me doing something.
And, to me, it was a clear indicator of where my value to the people I worked for really was.
OK, so I guess that wasn’t really a short story. But it’s just one in a list of many that have built up in my body and my brain that have brought me here. To this place where I feel massive amounts of guilt unless I’m being productive.
I truly don’t feel that I have value to any other person unless I am doing something for them. I was taught that people needing me makes it more difficult for them to discard me… because they are depending on me, you know?
So I’d bend over backwards to do things for people so they wouldn’t throw me away.
And now here I sti, not knowing how to relax or do something just for me. I always have to justify the “me stuff”.
If you can relate to these feelings at all and still work for someone else, please do something for me.
Next time you take a “sick day” TAKE IT. Don’t do a stitch of work. AND TRY NOT TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. BECAUSE YOU SHOULDN’T.
This stays true for vacation or personal days, too. If you take the day off, that’s your day. Not your work’s day, so don’t let them take advantage of your guilt or kindness.
They obviously care more about the money you make for them rather than the person you are. YOU are in chare of caring about the person you are.
So set those strong boundaries. Don’t give your employer access to your free time. It’s yours.
If they want your time, make them pay for that shit. If you work on a vacation day, don’t take the full day. If you take a sick day and spend the whole day working from home – THAT’S NOT A SICK DAY.
That’s a work from home day. You did work, you should be compensated.
I know setting boundaries like this is so hard and I’m immensely proud of anyone who does it. Keep doing it. And encourage others to do it.
The workers make the money for the employers. Never lose sight of how much power that gives you – the worker.