It’ll begin like this. With the realization that your partner of ten years is an abusive narcissist and you have to leave him immediately. At the exact same time, your boss you like at the job you like quits, and is replaced by a raging, abusive asshole. You’ll go to your union for help, but your union is spineless and useless, gives you bad advice, doesn’t stick up for you, doesn’t do the job it's paid to do. You need to consult with your human rights officer, but she’s fucking your boss. In fact, she’s pregnant with his baby and instead of being shocked, people think it’s funny. You’ll turn to your co-workers, some of whom you thought were friends, and they’ll tell you you’re exaggerating, they’ll turn their backs on you, desperate to protect their own backs, afraid to admit that if this could happen to you, it most certainly could, and will, happen to them. The social worker you’re assigned and the provincial human rights officer you ask for help stop returning your emails. You’ll call your mom and when you say you want to leave your job, she’ll yell at you and tell you that you’ll never grow up, that you quitting your job is just one more way to avoid having kids and your not having kids means you’ll never understand her. She tells you you’ve gotten too much in life and she laughs at your ideas and rages at your choices and you decide, after decades of these conversations, it’s time to not call her anymore.
You come home one day from work broken. You can’t breathe from crying. You go to your doctor and he puts you on sick leave. You go away for three months as far away from your house as you can get, to the other side of the country not too far from the Arctic circle. The cold town you go to is so warm and welcoming that you finally realize you don’t have to put up with that shit back home. That no person, no job, no salary is worth your mental health. You admit to yourself you’re depressed. You admit you need to heal. You realize it’s going to take a really long time and that scares you. You realize you’ve been living other people’s lives all your life instead of your own. You realize you need to figure out who you are, what you want, and how you want to live. You decide to go home and quit your job.
But the quitting won’t be easy. It’ll be long and drawn out. Your friends and family will abandon you, but new people, practically strangers, will support you. You will find love where you thought there was nothing.
To heal, you will do the things that have always felt good. You will read books and write stories and knit socks. You will walk and take photos. You will make art and grow food. You will put your hands in the dirt and feel its energy. You will plant seeds in that dirt and watch them grow into giant, towering, sprawling plants. You will feel the warm sun on your skin, the wind on your face, and it will revive you and grow you, too.
You will be blamed for being harassed. You will be blamed for making a fuss. Human resources will resent your accusations. You will realize that big systems enable abuse, protect abusers, and you will want to turn your back on those systems and build your own. You will meet with your union rep and new human rights officer one last time and you will start to sob in front of them. You will cry for their uselessness, you will cry for all the women you know who are also being abused, who are also struggling through their own pain. You will tell them you are sick of feeling so fucking awful. You will sob and spit those words. And then you will go home, through a cold, dark rain, to your warm woodstove, to your loving partner, to your cozy house and beautiful garden, and you will quit your shitty job.
And you will be able to do it. You will do it because all your life you never assumed anything was forever. You always had a Plan B. And this time, the Plan B was a Fuck Off Fund. You knew that good job wouldn’t last 'cause no job ever lasts. Nothing ever lasts. So you saved your money just in case. And in the quitting, inside the scariness of it, the insecurity, you will feel secure. Because you saved your money when everything and everyone thinks it’s better to spend. You will realize that there is nothing more empowering than having a backup plan. And now you have power. Now you can walk away, wave your two middle fingers in the air, and tell every asshole who ever made you feel like shit to fuck off.
And now all you have is time. And now you wake up each day and look forward to the day. It'll begin like this because now you know who you are and what you want to do. You are forty-one and you are going to start living.