I’ve written many times about walking away from my magazine career.
But I never told you this: I tried to go back … and no one wanted me.
It’s hard to write those words in black and white. However, they’ve been weighing on my mind lately, bubbling back to the surface.
For much the same reason that I blog about recovering from my marriage break down, it’s cathartic to explore the complex emotions that accompany a career ending.
Some people say my words belong in a private diary, not on the web.
But I find blogging helps me heal. Whenever I’m dealing with feelings that seem too difficult to bear or bad situations I can’t change, writing a blog post relieves the emotional pain or pressure.
And I hope my words help others who are struggling.
There’s a lot of recalibration when a major pillar of your life topples. In my case it was like dominos knocking each other down … my career, my health, my marriage …
I got a bit lost in the wreckage.
For years after leaving magazines, when people would ask me what I did for a living, I’d reply: “I used to be the editor of Woman’s Day”.
I think I was embarrassed that I wasn’t in the cut and thrust of the media with my former colleagues.
I’m Facebook friends with many talented journalists. As I celebrate their career triumphs, I mourn my loss.
Initially, I wasn’t strong enough to re-enter the fray. I was pretty broken when I was handed my farewell bouquet and toasted with Champagne for my 20 years of service.
But I’m not the type to make a scene. So I smiled graciously, gave a polite speech and walked out of the building for the last time.
I’m not allowed to tell you why, but I felt I had no choice except to walk away from a career that meant everything to me.
I wasn’t in a good place for a long time. However, ink was in my blood and the pull to return was strong. So I started to look for a new role.
I couldn’t get one.
Editing Woman’s Day when it sold more than 500,000 copies a week suddenly meant nothing.
Finally, someone let me know: bad things had been said about me. Lies had been told and believed and spread.
My magazine career was over and there was no going back.
I’ll never understand the drive to destroy someone’s livelihood. To this day, one of my “enemies” is still gleeful if she thinks she’s found a new way to twist the knife.
That’s pretty sad.
I moved on. There were bills to pay. I told myself – and everyone else – that print was dead and I was better off out of the mess.
It’s true that it’s been pretty rough sailing in magazines in recent years. Sales have fallen and budgets are being squeezed accordingly. It would be hard yards working in print again, but it would have been exciting to see if there was still life in the old girl.
Instead, I found myself in my mid-40s with no university degree and limited options. I’d been a print journalist since I was 17, it was all I knew.
It was pretty scary to start over.
Fortunately, someone decided to take a chance on me and I’ve found a new, gentler existence in corporate communications.
There’s a lot of satisfaction in my work – I get a kick out of celebrating the people and developments in the drinks industry. It’s a lot more personal than when I was trying to create covers for Woman’s Day to entice half a million people to buy it each week.
I still miss the celebrity stuff. That’s why I’ve relaunched HouseGoesHollywood on Sundays, as an outlet for the passion that drove my career for almost 20 years.
Sometimes I feel like a failure. The mean voice in my head tells me that if I was a success, the phone would be ringing with offers. But it is silent.
Deep down, I know that I didn’t fail. I saw those numbers each week and they were good. I successfully ran a weekly magazine for many years. I inspired loyalty and dedication in my staff. I’m proud of those things.
Nothing lasts forever. Most people don’t get a chance to do half the stuff I did during my career.
I had a bloody fantastic run. Sure, it almost destroyed me in the end, but rising from the ashes made me who I am today. I like myself much more than I did during those “glory days”.
I’m a better partner, mum and friend.
I figure they’re stronger attributes than being a great weekly magazine editor.
Song of the day: REM “It’s the end of the world as we know it”
PS: That’s pregnant me in the main pic with two of my fellow expecting Woman’s Day artists, Tessa and Kylie.