Thursday, September 28, 2006


At first, just a huge relief. But now, surprisingly, I find myself angry, in a diffuse and uncomfortable way. Certainly the company has not ripped me off -- if anything, I've ripped them off; I don't think they've gotten their money's worth out of me. And they're better than many companies. But still it seems weird to me that no one even noticed I was struggling, for the past five years. I've been in a great deal of mental pain for years. No one ever knew that. No one ever attempted to know it, that I can think of. I don't fault anyone in particular, but -- what a strange way to organize work, so that a person can float through it like a phantom, part of nothing, speaking to no one, sinking farther and farther down into a murky substrate of objectless anxiety -- and no one even knows it.

Not that they would have known what to do about it. Not, at any rate, the Europeans or Americans. My Indonesian project manager, the one in Toronto, is the only one who has had a human response to this. He wanted me to take time off, rest. He has the concept that injured things need to heal, and need to be treated gently and kindly. I feel terribly grateful to him, not just for the sympathy, but also for making me feel that my sense that somehow life at work ought to proceed differently isn't just a mental disease. If I had had a manager like him earlier, who knows how my relationship with this work would have developed? At this point, though, I feel such revulsion to software that I can't picture ever working in the industry again.

Of course, at every step I've chosen isolation. I've chosen to have no friends at work. I've chosen not to tell people I'm struggling. But my recent experiences have told me that, for the most part, I was right. There was nothing to win by saying it, and plenty to lose. My two bosses, one from Montana, one from Paris -- if they understand where I am, they don't have a language for it. I talk to them, and they are clearly groping in the dark. When I say that my work does no one any good, they seem completely baffled, as though to want to do people good was a bizarre desire; maybe sick, maybe infantile, I don't know, but in any case, inappropriate to express at work. More than anything else, I think, I am an embarassment. In all these years I still haven't learned how to blend in with these people. I can't speak their language.

I'm making them sound unkind, and they're not. They're not unkind. They are just so foreign to me, and I to them.

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