at first I was afraid, I was petrified
thinking I could not live without you by my side
now I’ve been spending nights thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong
and I learned how to get along.
(Dino Fekaris and Frederick J Perren)
Looking back now from a perspective of 8 weeks of retirement I feel like I’ve escaped from an abusive relationship.
- 46 years ago, when I first started the job it seemed wonderful, bringing new life into the world, helping women and families, I did my best as did everyone around me. That’s all I wanted to do. I’m not ambitious, I didn’t want to be the manager
But gradually the motivation stopped being helpful and fulfilling and became a motivation based on fear. Fear of doing something wrong, making a mistake in my rush, fear of missing something because I was too busy, fear of somebody being harmed but gradually the fear became not of doing harm, but of not “following the guidelines” which became more and more unrealistic and demanding and even worse ” not completing the documentation ”
- Then the fear was of being found out, of saying something ,complaining publically, and unspoken threats hanging over me. “See what happens to other people who speak up against this oppression, thier lives become uncomfortable, they get moved, they get disciplined, or accused of ” bringing the service into disrepute”
- Of course, I hoped things would change, get better. With every new report into maternity services, recommendations, reorganisation, public enquiry, public apology by some hospital trust that had been found out. I hoped it would improve. But it never got better, ” making it better” made it worse and the answer to any new scandal just seemed to be, more forms to fill in, less time for the women.
- It seemed to me, the name of the game was ” how can we be seen to implement these changes, without actually spending money, indeed saving money!
- Even more, like lots of people in large organisations I felt I didn’t exist as an individual, particularly with a computerised roster system, my time was controlled by a computer, and I could be moved about, like a chess piece to fulfil the whim or needs of ” the service “
I even changed my name on Facebook through fear that any opinion I expressed could be used against me!.
( in tribute to my immediate line manager and other managers over the years, some really tried thier best to treat us as people, but they too had pressures and jobs on the line,)
- Like an abuse victim, I became dependent, hanging on, hoping it would change, hoping to return to the halcion days when I was fulfilled, happy, valued, loved. When women came first, not tick lists, that were supposed to prove that women came first, but actually took me away from doing what they were supposed to prove, ie. that I was giving good care, when in my heart I knew I couldn’ because the system didn’t give time for that , the system is prescriptive, rather than listening to what women NEED
- Of course I was dependent in other ways, a mortgage, security, pension, my work ethic, ( which couldnt justify not working) status, identity, fear of the unknown, what else could I do? The NHS has more or less a monopoly on midwives, where else can you go”. it whispered to me. ” You are no good at anything else. Where else could you earn this salary.”
- And then one day I got the courage to quit?
“and so you’re back, from outer space
i just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face.
I should have changed the stupid lock, I should have made you leave your key, if I had known for one second you’d be back to bother me!
- And also like an abuse victim, I’ve gone back, “just” to work a couple of shifts, because they were short staffed due to me leaving. why did I feel guilty? why did I give in to this self imposed emotional blackmail? Maybe I thought ,it would be different. ……but it wasn’t.
- I kept women waiting an hour and a half, because the IT system wouldn’t work properly! Nothing new there then!.
Go on now go,
walk out the door
just turn around now, cos you’re not welcome any more,
weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye,
did you think I’d crumble, did you think I’d lay down and die?
To all those colleagues who I know are staying for all the reasons I stayed, I say, “GET OUT NOW”!
Ask yourself, what am I afraid of?
If its lonlyness, …get a life!
Join some social groups, make new friends. Art, cinema, keep fit, walking
Try googling meetup or university of the third age?
If it’s feeling useful, or important, join some charity work.
If it’s money, downsize, live on your reduced means for a while just to prove you can.
Remember, if you are over 60, in a few short years you may be unfit, or have a sick partner Get out now while you are young enough and fit enough to enjoy life.
NO NO not I,
I will survive
Long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive
IVE GOT ALL MY LIFE TO LIVE
AND ALL MY LOVE TO GIVE
AND I’LL SURVIVE
I WILL SURVIVE!