Anatomy of a fall – how life’s scales tilted away from the work balance.

Once upon a time I was in the top 5% of UK incomes, I had a salary, bonus scheme and benefits package that was above 95% of UK earners. I worked in the city, a senior manager for a brokerage. We were minted by most peoples standards didn’t want for much, we were happy.

Then one day it fell, life caught up with me and with that things became difficult. It’s difficult to look back and define the point of failure, there is one particular event which brought everything to a head, but there was a lot of micro-situations that lead to the fall.

But as I go further into this just bear in mind for every individuals fall there is someone on the rise. My story is intertwined with my wife’s. So this isn’t just a story of an individual or two separate individuals but also a couples story, it will be one-sided as this is my interpretation, it will sound bitter but that isn’t the intent, unfortunately, my use of English leans towards the aggressive, angry side of things. This is because I try to be clear, precise and not emotional, I’ve noticed that people consider this to be “angry” speak, well that’s not my intention.

There are a number of ancillary actors in my fall, there is little I can say about them as I perceive their behaviour to child-like, mercurial and unreasonable. I as a grown man should have handled the situations differently and the beauty of hindsight means I can ruminate about it.

It all started at a company barbeque, somehow I ended up having a long chat with the CEO, we shared the same birthday, married late and had two children the same age, so the conversation was light, not involved in anyway about work and just pleasantries. Except, the people watching this, somehow interpreted it in a different way, one of my staff took a photo of us chatting and laughing. The following, I was sent the photo, this I received just as we entered Heathrow to go on holiday to Glyfada  a rather upscale suburb of Athens, Greece with really nice beaches.

The chat at the barbeque made my direct boss jealous and he reacted accordingly. During our holidays I was going to visit one of the board members, we had a friendly acquaintanceship. My wife worked at Cass Business School on the MBA, this board member had studied at Cass so they knew people in common, I went to City to do my MSc and we had a lecturer in common. So it was a friendship outside of the work place. My mercurial boss didn’t see it like that, he thought I was manipulating for his job, so went on the attack.

When I came back from holiday, my work load was increased, I had to employ more people, I had to work across divisions and I was given real death marches by my boss. Yet I kept my head above water, worked harder, longer but at the same time my wife was crashing in a different direction. Stay at home parenting was getting to her, the mums she hung with were declasse and she started drinking.

It all came to a head, the work life balance was broken for me, I crashed, the stress at home and the stress at work broke me. I took six weeks off work to recover and went back to another shitstorm at work, constructive dismissal of other managers, failing projects and bitter fucked up individuals. It got to a point when I had a sotto voce argument with my boss during a meeting where he got so rattled he asked me out for a fight. Laughable, I had so much pent up anger and rage I would have killed him – easily.

So I walked. That was the zenith of my career.

Over the last four years I’ve supported my wife’s career instead, from my own experience I can see the work place issues before she can and together we manage a work life balance with family, but it’s not easy.