The Stab and Twist

There are plenty of moments in life where you get stabbed, but also feel the knife twist inside you. Hopefully they’re all metaphorical and not real, because while the metaphorical sucks, I assume the real also really fucking hurts.


I’m still trying to unpack layers of mental crap from my last job. I think the people I worked day to day with were the best. We did so much for so few. We genuinely supported each other. And then there was the wider shit – how dare I need to work from home because my body is an unpredictable shit head. The micro-aggressions from peripheral people about “I never know when you’re here” when it’s the SAME FUCKING DAYS EVERY WEEK and not only in my calendar, but a team calendar AND the calendars of anyone I work with regularly.




*clears throat*


What hurts is the stripping down you get forced into. There is so so much I could go into with backstory and I barely remember half of it at a time. So this is one tiny except of a big thing. I was in a meeting with whoever was rudely inserting themselves into my life at the time, part of assessing if I’m “allowed” my accomodations (I guess? So many meetings and discussions had no point). I gave my standard example, because yes, this shit drags on for so long that you have time to have a bank of answers for the inane bullshit you get asked all the time.


My example went something along the lines of: “I commute, busses jolt, which makes sitting hurt, I have to take painkillers every day, I use heat pack and stretching and other techniques too. They have limited helpfulness and by the end of the day my back is so stiff that I have trouble lifting the toilet lid and sitting on a toilet.”


I feel that “going to work makes it physically difficult to pee” is a concise example with a relatable topic and need (peeing) of the level of impact that working on site had on me.


What was the stab? The absolute lack of reaction from the people I was in the meeting with. Not only an immediate reaction, but a total lack of empathy. To me, the lack of reaction could be a HR-directed “be neutral” type instruction and felt like the stab, but the lack of empathy was the twist. 


The lack of empathy told me that they viewed disabling me to a point where peeing was a physical challenge as an acceptable cost for me to pay for coming into work for performative reasons.

Performative because I could do all of my job from home.

Why am I thinking about this? Twitter. It seems like a tangent maybe but also that’s how my brain works.


Tweet reads:

PSA for autists: if someone says “we should grab a coffee sometime” (or something similar), they probably have no intention of actually following through, and will be shocked if you try to arrange something. 99% of the time, they’re just feigning warmth and interest to be polite.


I had two associated thoughts:

I really hate it when people do this. You could just say “I hope you have a good week” instead of murky social bullshit.



I’m just over everyone expecting me to make more effort in life than they do.


The second one was in response to people who do try to follow through with setting up coffee because we didn’t read the correct “it’s not real” out of the coffee situation. It’s our fault we didn’t get it. It’s our fault we wasted time and energy. And I’m just tired of it.


My health has never been the same since having glandular fever in 2009 and I’m tired of trying, tired of sacrificing. It’s not worth it, really.

4 Replies to “The Stab and Twist”

  1. Denyse Whelan says: Reply

    I am now of a better understanding of how awful that time was..writing it like this helped me see just how workplaces and some of the people who are “bosses” can be work-centred first and people…unsure where they fit. To be working there as you did is testament to your courage and doggedness to comply as you were supposed to. I truly am sorry how much of a trial this was for you and the effect on you now.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      This was just one small example from a lot of goings on. And at the same time the people I actually worked with were my favourites, so that’s why it has taken me some time to unpack it.

  2. […] work got done and done very well, yet I would get pressured to do things beyond my safe limits for performative […]

  3. […] me think back to the painful silence I got when I told a (much more recent) former employer about the harm coming to work was causing me. I wonder now if they wanted to view it as an excuse, as needing their validation, but it was too […]

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