The Work Blackberry – or fighting the compulsion to work

I have upset the family routine. They do not expect me to be at home. Not every day and every night. So they have tacitly decided to ignore me. They pooter about their daily business trying to behave as though I were not there.

But the children are bemused and my poor Father is bewildered.

My Father arrives every morning to take the kids to school and then to maintain the house – as he terms it – this has been his routine. He seems surprised to see me sitting in the living-room or at the laptop. But appears to have decided to manage this by behaving as though my presence were down to me working from home. This has a few unfortunate manifestations. But the biggest one relates to The Work Blackberry.

My Father – despite me saying (admittedly opaquely) that I wasn’t really up to checking it – has kept The Work Blackberry on charge. It occasionally buzzes in the background. Every email vibrating twice. Reminders of the unknown acres of what I should be attending to.


A very slight but awkward silence has mushroomed to fill the buzzing aftermath – filling the space between my Father and I. I feel the weight of his expectation that I immediately rush to the phone. That I respond and then proactively manage the demands being made. Because there are always demands.

I have done this of course. I have trained him to expect this. Years of my obsessive working. He is blameless – a Pavlov’s Dog.

When he is off collecting the kids or pottering around the house I have stared at The Work Blackberry and resolved to switch it off – or to silent.

But The Work Blackberry has a malignant force-field all of its own. And I have found that I am unable to approach it for fear that I will be sucked in. That by opening it to alter settings I will be unable to stop myself opening the inbox. And then I will be worrying about what I find. All my worst imaginings – that people are venting their frustration that I am not answering or getting back to them, that projects will be failing, that cases will be going untouched. Those imaginings are the force-field preventing me touching the bloody thing.

So, I am sitting here. Typing this. I have measured this post in buzzes -12. The Work Blackberry is behind me – but making its presence felt. Tonight I am resolved to ask my husband to switch it off. To hide it.

I do realise that it has been my ambivalence which has kept it sitting there. The unfortunate truth is that the old me (the largest part of me I suspect) is with my Dad in this – I should be working.

But this me – the me that has discovered I have built my house on sand – I think I will not begin to improve until I put that phone and that compulsion away at least for a wee while.