There was a time that a headache would strike at 4pm and I’d go into the corporate bathroom, two doors between me and the bright, loud, engaged world. I’d sit, disengaged, and I’d close my eyes for up to two minutes. Dark, cool, quiet. And if the headache didn’t resolve I’d know that in two hours there’d be peace and quiet at home. Solitude. Food.
Now when a headache hits at 4pm there is no dark, cool, quiet. There aren’t two doors between me and anything. There is no closing my eyes. There is no solitude (and often no food). Because two small people will get hurt and sad if I close two doors and my eyes. Now there are at least four hours before bedtime separates me and the bright, loud, engaged workplace. And those four hours will not be easygoing or peaceful. Those four hours will be escalating screaming and demands and hot, frantic, noisy unceasing tasks.
No sitting for four hours. No breathing or relaxing or closing eyes. That’s a lot of unfettered headache time.
Dinner comes much later, quiet comes much later. Cool, dark, quiet long blinks come much later.
Working is not a picnic. It’s rare to find an ideal work environment, and even when I do there are hard days. There are annoying people or clients or computers or projects. But there are bathrooms. And doors. And closed eyes. And a way to separate at the end of the day.
For people who leave work and come home to small, needy, loud, helpless creatures, it’s a jarring transition. And there are several hours before bedtime for them, too, after a long day of sometimes awful colleagues and awful bosses and awful projects and awful clients.
There’s nothing for me to leave. No “gee, today one job seems easier than the other and I’m glad I have work/home on days like these”. No closing some doors or opening others; no transition except bedtime—that sometimes relaxed and delightful, but usually dramatic and daunting cataclysm.
So 4pm headaches seem as though they’re a much bigger deal than they used to be. And when corporate bathrooms seem a dreamy vacation spot from my current world, maybe I need to reevaluate a few things in my life.
Where’s your dark, cool, quiet, disengaged happen? Is it hourly or daily or weekly? Is your dark, cool, and quiet at the mercy of others? Do you have a room of your own? Do you sit and blink and eat and go to the bathroom as you see fit?
How do you do that?