The Job Situation, Yet Again

Can you bear to hear more about my redundancy from college? One of these days I’ll actually write a book review and surprise us all. But it seems that this situation is still lacking closure, and it’s causing me a lot of anxiety that I don’t quite understand. What I would really like is to walk away from my old job and never look back, never even think about it again if that were possible. But so far, I’ve had nothing in writing from college, and no mention of my job and the discussion it provoked has appeared in the council minutes that get circulated. It’s as if nothing has happened. Then my friend, the one I mentioned before who is pretty angry about the situation, had a chat with the Master, who said it had all been mishandled and I was never meant to leave. This of course doesn’t fit in any way with what the Senior Tutor told me, which was that the council intended to organise study support quite differently in the future. It doesn’t even fit with the first thing that the Master told my friend, which was to confirm that I’d been nobbled by someone on the council who had better remain nameless.

Have I mentioned sufficiently how much I detest politics? And now, worst of all, there’s all this political mess around the axing of my old job. My friend tells me that the Master very much wants to see me and is convinced he would offer me the job back. But you know what? Even if he did, (and bless her, I suspect her conviction is a product of her loyal friendship) I really don’t want it. I am a very peace-keeping, conflict-avoidant sort of person, and someone who always makes an effort to see any situation through the eyes of the others involved. But if you asked me to go back and work with these people again, as if nothing had happened, I couldn’t possibly do it. The mere thought of it is enough to bring me out in hives.

And here’s where we come to the part of the problem that’s really bothering me: I think that I’m okay about this redundancy, and at least in my conscious mind I am all ready to move on, we’re done and dusted here. But every time I am obliged actually to think about it, and about having to deal with all that remains unresolved, I come across immense anxiety. On two occasions, I’ve discussed this matter with my friend, and after each time I’ve spent the following night in dreadful nightmares, really awful ones that have left me shattered the next day. At the bookstore, my manager had the truly brilliant idea of dropping the Master an email asking politely what ‘package’ college was going to offer me for the redundancy, which seemed to me the best solution to the various issues involved I’d yet come across. It sounded like something I could actually do. Today, I’m struggling with dreadful hypochondria because I have to draft the letter (it’s done, by the way). When I start worrying I have some fatal disease, it’s usually a sign that I’m feeling extremely vulnerable and insecure. But I just don’t understand why. I’m not sure what I’m afraid of here, or what I think will happen. And that’s why I felt the need to write this post, because sometimes, answers come to me most readily when writing, and even more often, my blog friends have insight that helps no end.

I really don’t know why it freaks me so to contemplate having to do something about this redundancy, and there will be things I have to do, like it or not (although I am hoping to keep them to a bare minimum). This is the most frustrating kind of anxiety, the type where I don’t know what’s causing it. Any suggestions for how to get around this psychic obstacle will be gratefully received….or failing that, hugs are great.

63 thoughts on “The Job Situation, Yet Again

  1. I’m sorry you are going through what must be a tough time. I’m sure it’ll take some time for the shock to dissipate and when it does, you’ll probably wonder why you were so anxious. Hoping things will look brighter soon (and you get a good package) and sending you some big, warm hugs!

    • Bless you! What a lovely message, thank you so much. I’m sure you’re right, and that in days to come I’ll look back and wonder why on earth this bothered me at all! And thank you for the hugs. I really do love a virtual hug.🙂

  2. I do think that the controlled (apart from the hives ooh and the nightmares) and contemplative manner in which you have written this post means that you are moving on. And think of the money!
    I actually started blogging to write about the way I was treated a year ago by my then employer. I haven’t done it yet. But you have inspired me to do so.

    • Mrs Carmichael, I am going to add you to my blog reader right now for all sorts of reasons, but also because I’d love to hear your story. I suffer from the split mind syndrome, so half of me is relatively wise and knows these problems are trivial, and the other half leaps about in melodramatic fashion, messing with my composure!🙂 But I do think this is very trivial in the great scheme of things, and with luck, sanity will win out.

  3. Excellent idea of your colleague’s – you’ve done the perfect thing in order to get clarity without putting yourself in any kind of a spot.

    I’m so sorry you having nightmares, both the sleeping and the waking kind. I think perhaps, rather than this being pin-downable to any particular feeling, you are feeling ‘conflicted’, lost between shifting perceptions of reality. My latest and quietly brilliant therapist talks about needing a firm place on which to stand in life and from which to deal with everything. She means, I think, not something fixed and closed in an unrealistic and constricting way, but something very basic, and whenever she says it, it feels ‘right’. I think you need clarity and closure before you can feel that.

    • Jean, I knew you would have something wonderfully insightful to say and you never let me down. I really relate to that notion of the firm place, and it’s true that I’m feeling more the shifting sands at the moment, being neither one thing nor another, but in transition (no wonder I hate this state so!). This is the first week when I’ve felt like writing, and I think that in a little while, I may be able to say with more conviction that that’s what I do, and it will provide some useful stability, I think. Thank you for your excellent thoughts.

  4. Is your anxiety perhaps to do with the fact that once financial and administrative matters have been resolved and you have fully and finally left college, that umbilical cord will be cut? On some deeper level, you may be worried about being without the college’s ‘shelter’ – that’s a clumsy way of putting it, but it might be akin to a young person who is very keen to leave home but is fearful of some aspects of independence, or even to someone who wants to escape a damaging marriage but thinks they won’t cope well alone. If so, I think it’s natural and very understandable, but I’d also say that you have your own strength and talents and abilities to carry you forward, and your family and friends there as background support, and some other employer or career path will give you in future as much as or more than the college has done in the past. Cut the cord and you’ll be fine.
    Related to that, but almost the converse, if you see what I mean, is that dealing with the loose ends reminds you that the situation hasn’t been satisfactorily resolved yet and that it came out of the blue, seems very unfair (and mishandled) and has been very de-stabilising, and while you want to avoid conflict and certainly don’t want to take your old job back, the feelings that the necessary emails etc. engender are still painful ones for all those reasons.
    I hope I’m making sense and that what I’ve said is of some use and I’m not missing the point by miles. Wishing you well, as ever.

    • Karen, you make perfect sense and have described my situation with great astuteness. I’ve been at the university, one way or another, since I was 18- this would have been my 25th year there, and what happened was hardly a party and a carriage clock! (I jest – I couldn’t have borne a party..) Being an academic was definitely a label I clung to, and I used it a lot even when I was off work ill. So it is very funny to let that go now, and in messy circumstances. I really prefer things cut and dried, you know? Your thoughts have helped me a great deal to see where I am more clearly – thank you!🙂

  5. The hugs are coming from The Bears, partly because they love you and don’t like to see you distressed and partly because they got plenty of practice in when I went through this. You can have hugs from me as well, but it might be of more use to know that when I went through this same situation it took me a full ten months to be able to face any real contact with the people at the other end. You may think you’ve moved on but I don’t think you’ve had nearly enough time yet, especially because, like me, you do anything you can to avoid confrontation. It’s too soon for you to be able to contemplate being involved with the College again without dreading the thought that you might be challenged in some way and further anxiety be thus provoked. Dropping the Master an e-mail is a good way of letting them know that they have a case to answer, but a face to face would be too much too soon. Having as little contact as possible for the immediate future is probably going to be the best thing you can do. Your body is telling you that you need to keep your distance and you should listen to it. Love from us all.

    • Alex, first of all, I send many hugs to the Bears, bless them and much love to you all. It was immensely helpful to me to know you felt the same way and that it took you a while to feel able to face dealing with the aftermath. Thank you. I know I loathe transition so much that every day I wake up thinking, okay enough of this now! Moving on! And of course, it takes the time it takes and I can’t really control the process, however much I wish I could! I read a little while back a sentence that really stuck with me about the body being the place of integrity. And it is surprisingly true. My mind feels I should get on and deal with all this, but my body is indeed making very different, and very firm suggestions. You’re so right I should follow them.

  6. This is a terrible state to be in LItlove. As I see it your conscious mind wants to sort things out and achieve a conclusion, so that there is no further uncertainty, which is what you want. The deep, dark depths want to stay a million miles away from it all, as it is a perceived storm of danger (whether that’s rationally true or not), and it is churning out distress signals and blocking tackles to keep itself safe. Taking the lowest key approach, which you are doing, trying to avoid anything that may cause a surge,seems the best way to me. Easy of me to say that of course, but for want of anything better, given my own experiences, I offer this support for what you are doing, in the hope that it may help. Very best wishes.

    • Dear Bookboxed, I will take your support with grateful thanks! You’re so right to say that I perceive college as a place of great upheaval and uncertainty just at present. It does make me feel very tender to think of having to go through further conversations about this still painful topic. My mind thinks I should man up to it, but the overwhelming body vote goes to staying put and waiting for a while. Of the two, my mind is the more reasonable, and I think has come around to the idea that taking things slowly has many advantages! Thank you, my friend, for your kind and perceptive comment.

  7. Dear friends, I’ve been watching your comments come in this evening with such gratitude for your comfort and your amazing insights. Every message here has helped me to get a handle on what I’m feeling and understand it better. I’ll be writing full replies to you all as usual, but I just wanted to say a huge thank you now. Really THANK YOU! You help me so very, very much.

  8. My two cents worth. In your mind it seems you have moved on. You see a future that is not without difficulties but is nevertheless enticing, one where your intellectual gifts would be put to full use again. However, now, instead of this imagined future, the mixed messages from the University offer the unwelcome possibility of a return to a past that you thought you’d said goodbye to (if not good riddance); one that had come to have unpleasant associations of being unappreciated and betrayed. What’s more any such return would necessitate a confrontation, something which your non-confrontational nature feels ill-equipped to respond to.- Remember though, you have far more steel in you than you give yourself credit for.

    It might help to lessen the anxiety if you clearly define what you want to accomplish – I’m assuming that it’s departure and closure. I may be wrong, of course. – The email is a very good, pro-active start. It helps you set your agenda. One thing you’ll need to be crystal clear about in your own mind is what to do if they offer you your job back: would you accept it; but if you declined it, what would that mean for any redundancy package.

    Giving any advice from such a distance is highly likely to be faulty. Fortunately, I’m writing to someone who has, in abundance, a talent for critical analysis and can discern what, if any, of what I’ve said is relevant, and reject what is not, rather than be swayed by it.

    – To end on a ligher note, I know that ‘the Master’ is the appropriate title but I can’t help thinking of the Dr.Who villain. You’re a bigger Dr.Who fan than I am though, so ‘been there, done that’ I suppose.

    • Lokesh, lol! I hadn’t thought of the Master in terms of Stavros, but it’s very entertaining to do so! When I first thought about what I should do if I were offered the old job back I did feel momentarily conflicted. But then, when I thought of having to deal with the very people who seem to have been responsible for all this confusion, I just knew I could never do it. Even I turn out to have my limits! So yes, departure is definitely the way forward, and frankly, though the money would be useful, I’d choose my peace of mind over it. I think you are right to say that making a firm decision about what I want is an excellent way to settle down the last few persistent dust clouds. And I don’t want to be bothered with college at the moment, but would much rather look forward to the future. I don’t always have great confidence in my writing, but I think I’m extremely lucky to have this opportunity now to commit to enjoying myself with it, and we’ll see what comes out of that. Thank you, dear friend, for your helpful, sensitive comment.

  9. Litlov, poor dear. I am not surprised that you have had another wave of demons when you try to move on and/or encounter the pain you experienced. My body and my emotions, and probably yours, don’t process what has happened the same way my mind does. I’ve read of CFS as being our bodies getting caught in unrealistic states of constant alert. We can’t reason our way out of it, but often we can use our reason to remind ourselves that the message of pain and pain is not one we need to believe is true. I don’t know if you should return. I am sure I couldn’t withstand the feelings that would surface if I tried. Hold on to what you know rationally about the situation. Stick your tongue out the University. And take some deep breaths. Whatever you decide will be fine, but either way, you were too deeply hurt to expect the pain to be totally gone so soon. I totally agree with Alex, but sometimes my old pains continue to surprise me and return after much longer than ten months.

    • Marilyn, it does me no end of good to realise that my friends also need quite reasonable stretches of time to come to terms with change and upheaval. I find it’s a real issue of mine, how hard it is to stick in the moment, when it’s all about transition. I just want it over and done with, you know? But I was there a long time, and it was a very potent and significant part of my life. You are so right to say the body doesn’t process the way the mind does. I suppose my mind processes quite fast, and so the comparison between the two is even worse! (although I often think my mind pretends to be further along the track of evolution than it really is!). Bless you for your support and encouragement – I do value it so.

  10. I think the anxiety has to do with a fear that if you broach the topic of closure with them, they will give it to you in as brutal a way as possible, by telling you that you weren’t good enough, that you did a bad job, that you let them down, etc. I think Cambridge has been in quite a literal sense your alma mater, and in the most tender places where you have attached and invested, you fear that it will turn on you. If there’s any merit to my theory, then, the whole thing hasn’t been helped by the probability that you were betrayed by a “sibling.” And if I’m right, the solution to the anxiety will lie in addressing what this has brought up for you about your relationships, rather than anything to do with the job.

    • Dear David, as ever you are amazingly astute. I simply couldn’t bear to sit in a meeting with someone trying to make a case that I failed the students in some way. That would be the absolute worst case scenario. And given that my imagination is very quick indeed to envisage worst case scenarios, it must be knocking about somewhere inside my mind, doing damage. And when I was teaching, I would suffer a lot from the fear of being unmasked as a fraud. Looking back, now I don’t teach any more, I think I was actually pretty good at it. But it’s very telling about my relationship to authority, and it’s a very astute idea to look into these kinds of basic relationships to see what’s causing me such angst. Bless you for your insight.

  11. People have such different emotional responses so take with the proverbial pinch of salt but this is how l see it: you’ve been dealt a horrible blow and treated very unfairly and it’s going to take a long time for the wound to fully heal. It is a bit much to be expected to politely engage with the people responsible when doing so could very well deliver further blows to your psyche and upset whatever precious equilibrium you’ve managed to regain. It’s quite natural and sensible to want to protect yourself from that.There is no point in allowing people who have treated you badly to keep victimizing you particularly if you are 100% sure you don’t want to work there anymore.

    Psychologically you need to take the power back and make sure any further dealings are on your terms, not theirs. I think the email was a good way to go. Apart from anything else if you are entitled to any financial pay out due to redundancy there is no reason to let them get away with not paying. To do so would be cutting off your nose to spite your face- so even if it is stressful dealing with that side of things it is probably worth pursuing or having someone else do so on your behalf. Then, when you get the money, you can buy yourself something nice, and grimly close the chapter on your life not feeling like a victim.

    • Amanda, I do like what you say about taking the power back. I am terrible at that sort of thing, and whilst I don’t like being out of control of any situation, I tend nevertheless to assume that power lies with the other person and I must always tread very carefully. I suppose that’s another reason why, as you so rightly say, I have little desire to step back into the company of people who turn out to be so cavalier about my own feelings. I think it’s extremely good advice to act in such a way that I don’t feel like a victim. Thank you for your thoughtful and very sensible words.

  12. It seems to me that the way you are feeling is totally natural. You’ve had the rug pulled out from under your feet and have been given various Chinese whispers about the reasons why (excuse the random metaphors). In addition, you have just left a much-loved job, in which you were valued, and from which you derived self-esteem and personal satisfaction and you are, in that sense, in free-fall at the moment – not a comfortable feeling! You need clarity about exactly what happened and why in order to come to terms with your new situation. Only then can you begin to live your new life. And even then, you’ll probably have wobbly days, as we all do, but I think you have to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to feel wobbly, accepting that it will take time to feel comfortable in your new, post-college skin.

    • Claire, for some reason I really like the word ‘wobbly’! It’s exactly how I’ve been feeling and I tend to be too harsh on myself for that. Everyone does have wobbly days, and in a more concentrated fashion after unpleasant events. You’re right that I’ve been in free fall, and I think I need to focus on that in some way – get myself some firm ground under my feet by thinking a bit more about how I’ll organise my life now and what I want it to hold. And I loved your mixed metaphors – both were so very apt! Thank you so much for your helpful insight!

  13. Not a therapist (and I dread to think what your man who couldn’t let go would make of all this – probably another three years on his books at least) so just lots of hugs and good wishes. If you need closure and people refuse to provide it I’m afraid you must make them, but sucks that they can’t just get their act together and understand what you must need at the end of a long career with the college.

    • Lol! I dread to think how many years this would cost me in therapy!🙂 But there is a tendency in college authorities to act a bit wildly and then hope the consequences will just go away. That happens to coincide at the moment with the ordinary frantic rush of Michaelmas term. But in some ways it’s good as it allows me time to think and decide what to do. Thank you, dear friend for the hugs and the sympathy. They help a lot.

  14. Oh litlove, I am so sad to read this, you are having such a horrible time. And I don’t really understand why the onus seems to be on you to sort out the unresolved situation – if the Master wants you back, shouldn’t he be the one making the effort to contact you, explain the mess and make amends? And if he doesn’t, shouldn’t he be contacting you to apologise for the way it was handled, explain what happens now and make amends? Or have I missed something (quite likely!)?

    I think David’s point about this being more than a job, even a beloved job, but your alma mater, is so perceptive. And if you’re at all like me, it’s the uncertainty that’s the worst bit. You were moving on, and now it’s not so clear. It would never have been easy, but now it’s that much harder. Your manager sounds as if she’s very wise and the email gives you the chance to set the pace.

    So I don’t have any advice, but I do hope that you are being kind to yourself and I can supply lots of hugs and best wishes. If only I’d read this last night I could have flown over to Cambridge on my broomstick and sorted out these pesky dons for you – bother.

    • Dear Helen, how you made me laugh with your closing comment! And no, you haven’t missed a thing. The more I think about it, the more I think you’re right, and that I should really leave it to college to make the first move. If they want to sort this out, they should do me the favour of for once following some sort of conventional protocol! The Master is a nice man, and I daresay he thought this would be a quick and simple way of contacting me. But I do think something official ought to happen before I make any move. When I came off sick with chronic fatigue, I spent hours sorting out all my teaching arrangements, and that was enough, I think, of me being the one to do college’s work. I am exactly like you and hate the confusion and mess. I so much prefer for things to be cut and dried and I dislike intensely the feeling that this still hangs over me in some way. Although I think I’m making too much of it; on a day to day basis, I really don’t need to think about it at all, if I decide there’s nothing I need to do…… Thank you, dear friend, for your wise and supportive words.

  15. I don’t want to analyse this anxiety right now (since it will probably make mine worse!) But just a quick hug by way of a comment. Would it be out of the question to try out a new therapist for a few (only a few) sessions to talk out this anxiety? Not to reopen the whole therapy issue but just some focused listening and support. And of course you will feel a whole range of things about this. And anxious about asking for a redundancy package too. And anxious about setting forth without the safety net of a college job. Anxious perhaps about getting the recognition that the Master is offering and anxious about having to clarify your position (thanks for offering the job again but I don’t want it and by the way, I do want some compensation). Perhaps I should have just left it at the hug.🙂

    • Dear Pete, thank you for the hug! I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful reiki therapist at the moment, with whom I can talk this sort of thing over. She’s very down to earth, which helps me a lot at the moment, and her main argument is that I am reacting perfectly normally, and that there’s nothing wrong with me. I like these thoughts! You are very good at identifying reasons why I’m anxious, though. And that’s helpful too, as to be able to pin it down is to find ways to help myself. Bless you dear friend, for your personal and professional opinion – I ought to put a cheque in the post!🙂

  16. Oh, dear Litlove! Isn’t that the way these things go, just when you feel like you’ve got it all managed something else gets stirred up and you realize the wound isn’t completely healed yet. And suddenly the people that wounded you in the first place are poking at it and you don’t know if they are going to poke so hard the wound opens up again and ruins all that hard work toward healing. You do need to get complete resolution, the sooner the better really so you can move on and not worry about any further poking. I think the email to the Master is the perfect approach and phone or appear in person only if absolutely necessary. Hugs and more hugs to you!

    • Dear Stefanie, this is so true! I do feel poked, even though I daresay the Master and my friend felt they were going to make me feel better! I would so much rather not be stirred up at all…. and complete resolution sounds just the ticket. Thank you dear friend for your lovely comment and the hugs which I am very happy to have.🙂

  17. In lieu of being able to offer advice, I will send that hug!
    I get the same thing with stress – I always manage to convince myself that I’ve got some horrendous illness, and I have to sit back and realise that it’s just (!) the stress talking. Well done on recognising that! Hugs x

    • Oh bless you! It is so comforting to think I’m not the only person who does this! Solidarity very welcome here, thank you. And I’ll definitely take that hug, too.🙂

  18. Here’s a big English hug from San Francisco. I think that these anxieties are based in deep, deep unresolved issues like not being heard as a child so that doing something that your logical mind accepts as being a justified grown-up thing to do, can be emotionally crippling. I’d feel the same about not going back but they owe you a formal closure and hopefully financial compensation.

    • Jane, thank you so much for the hug and the very interesting insight. It’s true that I do feel a conflict between my logical mind and something more emotional and instinctive. Thank you also for the solidarity. I suppose because I feel outside the college system now, it’s been particularly satisfying to me to feel close to my friends.🙂

  19. The stress responses are entirely understandable under the circumstances. I had a job disappear under me in a very sudden and unexpected manner a couple of years ago. I was glad to leave the job but terrified of what would come next. The best thing I did was follow advice and consult a solicitor which really made me feel I’d taken control of the situation. Don’t be hard on yourself for feeling upset and anxious – it would be odder if you didn’t, and good luck with everything.

    • Jennifer, thank you so much for this wise comment – I found it really grounding. I’ve been given the name of a lawyer I could consult, but have held back so far because it would probably be expensive. Just this afternoon, though, a friend of mine who is also a lawyer gave me a call and she was able to offer some professional advice which was very helpful. It IS so useful to talk to someone who understands the law on this front. And thank you for helping me to feel normal! That’s not something that happens every day!😉

  20. I have been there. It way way back in the ’80s then the 90’s. The lesson was invaluable, “Come down child. It will be fine.” It was a lesson of invaluable worth that I received far far earlier than most in the US.
    My message to you, “You will be fine. Do NOT let THEM win.”

    • Hessian, it’s great to think that good things will come out of this, and if one of them is the acknowledgement that things generally turn out okay, I’d certainly take that! Thank you for your kind comment.

    • Nicola, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I’m glad to have your support on not going back. I really don’t think I could. Legal advice may well be necessary at some point, as the university doesn’t use employment laws the same way ordinary employers do. How they get away with that I don’t know!

  21. Dearest Litlove, first off – here’s a huge big hug to you all the way across from India.

    Second, I want to share something that works for me when I’m in a funk.

    1. Distract myself so that the topic that has put me in a funk and has been doing never-ending merry-go-rounds in my head sort of softens as the merry-go-round starts to slow down

    2. Persist in focusing on all those things which do NOT give me a headache and instead help me feel saner

    3. Once I am comfortably ensconced in a relatively more objective place where my emotions are not completely all entangled then re-visit the subject that had cause so much pain. This normally results in me seeing solutions / paths that I hadn’t been able to before.

    Even if this isn’t useful I know you’ll find something that will work for you! Hugs!

    • Dear Juhi, bless you for your kind and caring comment. I think it’s an excellent idea to have a proper procedure for getting my feet back on the ground, something that I do in full awareness that I am moving away from anxiety and towards other, more stable, parts of my life. When I trigger my fight or flight response, my greatest tendency is to freeze, with lots of thoughts going round and round in my mind. It would be a very good thing to take control of this, and have a gentle but firm way of clearing my head. And thank you also for the big hug which I was also very happy to receive!🙂

  22. I’d be careful. Looks like legally you have not been made redundant and are still employed by the College. If you’ve had nothing in writing then as far as I can see your contract of employment is still in force. Writing your email may complicate things (may be too late to give this advice). The danger is that you end up in a situation where you are seen as resigning rather than being made redundant. They may also owe you back pay etc. You clearly need to know where you stand and I would recommend consulting an employment lawyer. The College are clearly hopeless when it comes to HR so a lawyer may well be able to run rings round them. As to your anxiety. Perhaps the lawyer will help. Often such things are about the inability to take control and uncertainty about what you want. But hey – what do I know.😉

    • Hello dear S. As it turns out, I had a lawyer friend give me a call this afternoon, and it was very helpful indeed to be able to run my situation past her. If I ever do get into it with the college (and I haven’t sent my email yet) then it would be a good idea to consult the lawyer I’ve been recommended. There is actually a whole firm now set up for this sort of employment issue because the university creates so many of them, and they use the law in eccentric ways! I do completely agree that knowledge is a wonderful way to counteract anxiety. So I think you know quite a lot really!🙂

  23. I belatedly want to send you hugs and every kind of support you may need in this murky time. I completely share the opinion of the last commentator about legal advice being very helpful in your position. The sooner you get a clear picture, the better off you’ll be, because “obviously” “they” aren’t quite playing straight with you (well, from what I read). You don’t want to be pushed around and to have an objective ally like a lawyer (or maybe an union rep? sorry I understand little about English academia) would be certainly defusing a lot of your anxiety on your part and a lot of sneakiness on their part. Courage!

    • I so wish I had a union rep for this situation! We do have a union, but I never joined it. I know the union would give me advice, but couldn’t do more than that. There is a firm of lawyers I could consult, though. I do think that having a better idea of where I stand would be helpful. For the moment, though, I think I might leave it all alone for a few more days, as we’re in the middle of Michaelmas term and no one will be doing anything much for a while yet. But yes, it’s a shame but college authorities don’t seem to play fair. It has lowered my respect for them, that’s for sure! I will take that courage, my friend, and thank you for it

      • Ah. That was the question that was running through my mind all the time I was reading this – why didn’t you get AUT on board.

        A tip for the future – as the College hadn’t approached you formally you could have got in a quick union application and you would have been covered for representation by the time things came to a head. Situations like yours are when unions get most of their members.

  24. I hate to say this, but I had this awful sneaking suspicion that something like this would happen–oh, but we didn’t mean for you to actually go…. I’m so sorry it’s turned out to be such a mess. Typical academia, and I’m not in the least surprised that you would be stressed over this. Even though you’ve made mental progress and have been getting used to having severed ties with the college you don’t have any real sense of closure so it’s all out there hanging over your head. I hope you are able to get some good, sound advice and can move forward and begin to feel better. Take care and am keeping my fingers crossed for some good resolution coming soon.

    • Did you predict this in one of the emails we exchanged? It’s funny but it’s almost like I remember you saying this!! It’s so odd, but it feels just like one of those teenage romances that drag on and on because one person can’t decide what they want. Well, I have decided that whatever else happens, I couldn’t go back now, and for the time being, I ought to take that as my firm ground and my certainty. I’d love this to be completely resolved, but I can see it will take a while. In the meantime, I have to say that your help and support and good wishes really help me no end.

  25. Oh, litlove! I can’t add anything to what has already appeared here. You are getting awesome advice. No, do NOT go back under any circumstances. It will never be the same ( you know this & it is an anxiety-provoking thought as well). None of this is your fault–repeat as often as necessary until you believe it.
    The email response is brilliant.
    Many, many hugs to you from across the pond.

    • ds, thank you dear friend for your lovely comment. I so appreciate the support and I won’t go back! Absolutely not! Thank you for reminding me it’s not my fault – why is it SO easy to fall back into thinking that I’m to blame some way? Well, bless you for your reassurance and your kindness and for those hugs. I accept it all very gratefully indeed.

  26. I completely understand how difficult it would be to go back. After something like this, nothing can be the same. There really has to be something new brought to the relationship, some affirmation from the employer before it could ever work. And it really sounds like, emotionally, you’ve moved on.

  27. Litlove – I know exactly how you feel. When I’ve left something huge and life-absorbing (or at least busy-making) and nothing else has filled the vacuum, I am at my wits’ end. Regardless of the politics swirling around you, my advice is to focus on a new project, whatever it is. Try to swim in it, get lost in it, head towards a new goal. Ignore absolutely everything else that doesn’t relate to your new project and new goal. It will help a lot. The mind tends to invent catastrophe mainly out of boredom, that’s what I’ve found with mine anyway! I hope things settle down soon, they will. Big, soggy hugs from me, among the Hurricane Sandy leftovers. Thanks so much for your comment last week.

  28. You’ve had pages of excellent advice and support from your friends and apart from sending you a virtual hug (I’m rather better at hugging in person actually) I’m not sure what I could add that might be useful.

    I do think that you need to contact HR formally to query the current status of your employment at your University. I suggest you do this in writing which I guess might be less stressful than making an appointment to talk in person. It is the University that employs you I would assume rather than your College, but Oxford/Cambridge are very unusual in the UK system so I could be wrong. When my previous department was closed at my current university I can assure you I was glad that the University was my employer! I’m glad you are able to take some legal advice on this as that will provide a more detached view that you can take yourself.

    There may be a dozen of underlying reasons why this unpleasant event has ocurred, whether knowing more will help or just distress you only you can judge. I do think that the advice to make a clean break is absolutely excellent.

    Hope you can move on soon.

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