Some Things You Can’t Do Alone

I’ve never been one to ask other people for help.  I worry that it would inconvenience them way too much.  Plus, I like to be independent.  Seven years into my career, I finally realized how stuck I really was, spiraling around the same patterns throughout the years.  I couldn’t break the cycle.  I was too scared.  But I finally decided that I could no longer continue this way.

I needed help.

The day I chose to ask for it will forever be etched into my memory.  That day was just as miserable as every other day had become at my 3rd and final dental office.  So how did I go from being convinced that I wanted to continue pursuing this career to total desperation?

Well, a lot happened along the way.

Things started off pretty well in Dream Job #3.  Early on it seemed to get busy enough for me to increase my hours from two days a week up to three.  This seemed like a good sign– at least there was growth in the right direction.  More importantly, I felt welcome and supported by my fellow dentists in the practice.  It was a kind and friendly environment, a place I could see myself being happy.  I walked down the halls of the building, and people were always smiling.  I felt like this group of people had the formula right.  Meanwhile, I still had the security of Job #1 to help supplement my paycheck, and I could always count on having a busy day of work there to balance out any slow days.  Going back to that job was easy.  It was like coming home to visit my family.  There were adjustments and compromises I had to make, but I felt respected and appreciated.  It was comfortable.

So here I was, once again, living in the future of what my life was to become– but only temporarily.  By this time I was on a relatively short fuse.  I decided that if this didn’t work out, I was done.  Things weren’t perfect anywhere, but I thought the compromises I had to make here would all be worth it once I reached the destination.

Things were moving slowly, but at least they were moving.  My boss was an older guy, and retirement would eventually be his ultimate goal… or so I was led to believe.  I should have seen the signs.  He literally refused to use “the R word” (as he put it) with patients, reassuring them that he would never ever desert them.  He failed to send a letter to patients introducing his new associate (that would be me) to them.  Often times there was no introduction or mention of me at all to his patients.  It was as if my presence was being kept a secret.  At five years in, many patients still didn’t even know of my existence.  I should have seen these signs immediately, but once again, I was too naive, too trusting.  All of my attempts and suggestions to remedy this over the years went ignored.  And I sort of gave up, just showing up everyday, unsure of where this was all going.

Ultimately, I discovered he never had any intentions of retiring or even cutting down hours.  Early on he had cut down his schedule, leaving Mondays in the office all to me.  It was an easy day to fill my schedule with patients because he didn’t need to fill his schedule first.  Then suddenly 2 years in to my employment with him, he decided to work on Mondays again.

Any slight bit of hope I had dissolved, and I knew this was the beginning of the end.

This counterproductive move led to a major slow-down in my schedule again.  Unable to simply sit in the office for entire days, I found myself going for afternoon walks whenever I could.  These walks saved me.  I just needed to get away.  But they were so depressing.  Filled with anger and sadness, defeat and boredom, and feelings of failure, I couldn’t find any happiness in my day-to-day life.  It was easy to be hopeful and patient when things were moving forward, but I couldn’t continue to move backwards.

Once again I found myself reflecting on the past 7 years of my career.  Memories of a constant yearning to escape and be free of it kept coming back.

And then it dawned on me: the only thing keeping me here was me.

I was stuck in this prison I had created for myself, and it was up to me to break myself free.  But I couldn’t do it alone– obviously.  I needed help.

I’ll never forget the day I decided to pick up the phone and call Shawn.  It was like any other beautiful, sunny day.  I sat at the same picnic table in the park where I’d often have my daily cry, and I felt like I could crumble to pieces at any moment.  I could barely hold it together on the phone to explain why I was calling this career coach.  We set up an appointment, and she started helping me dig myself out of my hole.

That moment was the start of what took me over 3 years to change my life.

I do not receive any compensation for endorsing Shawn and her company, Brainstorming A La Mode.  She helped me tremendously, and we did all of our work over the phone.  Whether you are local or not, I highly recommend her services.  Check her out if you are looking to make a career or life transition.

Images from:
Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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25 thoughts on “Some Things You Can’t Do Alone

  1. Hi,
    It is a terrible feeling when people make you believe they are going to do something and then turn around and do the complete opposite. It just makes you wonder why, in your case why did he give the impression he was going to retire and instead work more, not the right thing to do at all in my book.

    1. Yeah, he pretty much used me when he needed my help, and then kicked me to the curb when he no longer needed me to help his business stay afloat. Amazing how a little bit of time will show you someone’s true colors. Also shocking coming from someone who is in the business of taking care of people. Thanks, mags. Always great to see you here!

  2. While dream job #3 wasn’t quite so dreamy after all, it probably served as the last straw. If that was the path you were heading on then it was bound to happen somehow, somewhere. That type of incident is not all that uncommon, unfortunately, and antics like these are what makes successful associateships the exception rather than the norm. Still, it sucks to go through it.

    Ultimately, we are all deciders of our own place in life….it just depends on when we stumble upon this empowering, yet, terrifying, truth. Fear of ______(insert your own brand) holds us back, telling us to be soldiers and well, soldier on.

    Till we decide we don’t have to.

    And then we can request some hand-holding (aka “help”).

    Life is too short for a daily cry. A daily laugh is much more enticing, don’t you think?

    1. Great thoughts! Very true– job 3 was a last ditch effort, but really, by then I had already given up. It was exactly those stories they tell about the doc not wanting to leave practice. I remember a meeting with the executive director of the office (we were big enough to have admin) in which he said this was intended to lead to a buy out of the doc and a buy-in to be a partner in the practice. He asked me if that’s what I wanted because they didn’t want just an associate. I said yes, even though I was not at all sure I wanted to make that commitment. Then the dentist himself sabotaged it all anyway.

      That’s the crazy thing– it is all up to us to create our own lives. You said it so eloquently.

      And, yes, I do love to laugh and prefer to spend my days doing that. 😀

  3. This post seems to be a necessary step in your overall healing process. I’ll bet you felt at least somewhat more stable immediately after writing it. God, the things we put ourselves through. And all in the name of… what was it? Who? I don’t remember any more; nevertheless, these things grow us. I’ll bet you’re a more relationally capable person now than you were then… before putting yourself through career hell. I’ll bet you’re more in touch with yourself and even others around you than you were then.
    Anyway, I’m really not rambling. My point is that those years weren’t wasted. I know you know that, I’m just reaffirming. I believe that ultimately our true (yet often forgotten) objective in life is relationships with other people. You know, having an impact beneath the surface. Anything that can deepen our capacity in that area is a godsend.

    Um… Oh, and your boss was a real ass clown if you ask me. 😉

    Maybe I missed something, but what are you doing now? Have you done any traveling lately? And one more thing that may be a great deal to personal…. but how strongly has this career change impacted your financial goals, as well as your immediate financial situation?

    1. You are right on here, dink. I still get a little emotional when I think of the state I was in that day. And it’s funny how you can be so torn up over something and just sit there and tolerate it… until you can’t anymore. You’re not rambling– I’ve yet to see you do that 😉

      And yes, I bet you could think of even better words to describe the man if I shared the real stories of what he did. But he’d probably sue me. That’s how he is. The saddest part of it all is learning that people pretend to be a certain way, and in the end, they turn out to be really horrible.

      As for now… I have only briefly mentioned what I’m doing, so it’d be easy to miss. My husband is a chiropractor, and I have started a weight loss business out of his office. It’s great fun , and a better match for me. That’s what my other blog is more about. I love food, and I love being healthy, so it’s a good fit. And, I don’t have to feel responsible for other people and their problems anymore, as I did in Dentistry.

      As far as the financials, I have taken “pay cuts” over the years anyway. My income peaked in my 3rd and 4th years of the 10 I was a dentist, so I got used to adjusting my lifestyle. I also am really conservative with my money, so I have managed to save some to cushion the blow. (This is mostly why I was so worried about getting that DSLR, but did it anyway.) 😀 Travel is still where I spend the majority of my money. I can’t help it. Just got back from a great time in New Orleans and have a few posts started on that. There will also be a trip to Prague and Bolzano, Italy coming up!!!! I guess it makes it easier that I have the support (emotionally and financially) from my hubs (and no kids,) that we can make it work… at least for now!

      Thanks for asking!

      1. I’m not going to try to one up (can’t stand people like that), but I can track with you quite easily when you speak of evil bosses.
        We’re strong people with strong personalities… so why in god’s name did we let it happen. I don’t know about you, but my experience changed me for a long time.

        1. I used to watch myself and notice that I think I don’t take too much crap from most of my relationships, but kept finding myself in abusive boss relationships. It’s like they say women always choose to date the same types of men without knowing it (or vice versa.) I guess I do that with my bosses. Weird! I hope I haven’t done that this time around– my new boss is my husband. If you can call him my boss, that is! 🙂

  4. Hi, Laura! Great thoughts and this was no ordinary journey to get to where you are now. We’re impressed you had the courage to do what we’ve all wanted to do at some point! Thanks for keeping us inspired with your blog and new adventures 🙂

    1. Aww, thanks, Molly! It’s certainly not ordinary with all of the drama I’ve added 😉 No, but you were there. You saw how sad I was. And now you get to see how happy I am! 😀

    1. Thanks, Carla! Sound like you had a nice visit with Kate! Well said… it is amazing how easily we lose touch with ourselves. Glad to see you here 🙂

  5. Oh dear. I am in this very situation!! I’m thinking too if I am getting “stuck in this prison I had created for myself” and I ask myself just the very question you put up there: “So how did I go from being convinced that I wanted to continue pursuing this career to total desperation?” Oh no 😦 I’m talking to people, hopefully getting help and that I’ll come back here soon with better state of mind!

    1. RR- sorry to hear that you are in that same place. It’s a crappy place to be. At least it sounds like you are working on not staying there for long. I wish you much luck on this one. You’ll have to keep me posted on what you decide to do. Just curious, what do you do for work?

      1. I’ll put it a little vaguely for now, I’m in the conference business I think I love my job and what I do; I believe in it the industry but I really can’t tell what’s been going wrong. Maybe organisation-specific, or maybe just a case of bad weather and terrible moods. 😦

        1. It’s sad that sometimes all of the details surrounding a job can make you unhappy in a career that you actually love. Good luck!!!

        2. Yep and thanks! Well if anything changes you’ll be sure to see it and I’ll be here to tell you too – because you’ve been such an inspiration for me! Thanks anyway! 🙂

  6. Hi Lolabees,

    It’s very random of for me to comment on this older post, but I had an urge to click on one of your older posts before going to bed. I just want to mention how powerful this post was to me personally, and how it reminded me of my own dark times when I felt stuck and frustrated about my situation. I would love to share in private someday.

    Thank you for your blog! Happy holidays!

    1. Hi Ally,
      I’m so glad you stumbled onto this post and that it resonated with you! I would love to hear your story some day. I think you can actually write a blog post and keep the settings private so only people you invite can see it.

      A very happy holidays to you, my Obsessive Tetris Twin!! 😉

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