I came back to work on October 27th. Nothing felt the same. The company was different. The office atmosphere was different. My motivation was different. It was as if the tiny part of my heart that was damaged was the same piece of heart I put into my work.
The first 2 days were overwhelming. My coworkers walked on eggshells around me and I thank them for that. Some had absorbed my other responsibilities during my leave. Taking those things back did not top my list of to-dos. Plus, I had an entire new department and new staff (of 2) to take on. An obvious starting point eluded me. I was starting over; starting over in the middle.
I spent much of the first week observing everybody as they worked. Trying to find the things I can avoid to lessen the stress load while still accomplishing assignments. I decided to stay out of conversations that speculated on the financial health of the company. I wanted to stay away from talks that dissected the changes and staff losses from the previous week. I wanted to remain complety separate of those speeches and conjectures and venting. Unfortunately, after the third day, I realized I was leading those very conversations which I endeavored to avoid. They provided a catharsis, but still left my ire up...and probably my blood pressure to some extent. Now I work harder to not participate in such unproductive conversations.
By the end of the week, I realized I needed to do more to reduce the stress at work. I left my computer at the office for the first time in memory. When I walked out the door, I disconnected.
I did my best to not think about work all weekend knowing I still had my budget to turn in as well as an annual review of an employee. I knew the importance of both and the consequences of non-compliance, but I didn't let myself worry about it. I slept well over the weekend for the first time in many years.