Tag Archive | gratitude

What am I Worth..to an Employer?

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Finding a job is pretty darn high up there on the life stressors chart for anyone. So many decisions, so much time, effort. Penetrating questions. Potential adjustments. Fears. Hopes. Disappointments. The waiting. The unknown. What am I worth?

My heart rate is up just typing that.

So think about my situation for a moment. I had a certain skill set, loads of high tech and higher math knowledge, computer software, great vocabulary, fast typing, persuasive speaking and writing, super confident.

And now…I look at my resume and it feels like someone else. I have so many holes in my memory, no one would believe I used to code webpages or teach calculus or write poetry. My typing has gone from about 80 wpm to 35 wpm with so many errors, the screen is all red underlines. Words that used to flow freely get stuck and I sit and stare, waiting for a thought to form. I am relearning math, but I doubt I will have time to get back to a calculus level in my lifetime as I’m relearning basic facts. Here and there I remember things, like how a tangent works, or what an exponent does, but then I start to work it out and it goes blank again. My daughter is in  high school algebra right now, I had been looking forward to coaching her, and it all looks so familiar, but I have no idea how to solve any of it. I tell her, you have to do something with regrouping….and I get excited thinking I might recall, but no, I can’t get any further.

So. How do you get back to work, when you can’t do what you used to do? How do you explain that you can’t do what you used to do and not sound incompetent or insane?

This process has not been going well. I’ve been applying for low level part time jobs that have nothing to do with my work history. I either don’t get called at all, or when they talk to me, they say I am overqualified, they are afraid I will get bored, or just give me that certain doubtful look, or have that tone in their voice and I know it is over.

My doctor recommended I contact my state workers with disabilities board. I guess I knew there was one, because they helped my brother, but I never considered myself disabled…just never thought of it. So after the shock wore off, I looked online, and saw they had exactly the services I need. I applied online, they called me the next day, set up an intake appointment that same week. Wow!

So I met with them last week. I was so incredibly nervous. I had to gather up my medical records to prove my eligibility, that is phase one. I worked through shame, fear, felt like I was whining, complaining, oh poor me-ing. Until I got there. It was literally a life changing day.

I’m sitting in the waiting room and my assigned case worker calls my name – she is completely blind. She has a service dog leading her, and me, to a small conference room. We sit down, and I’m instantly much more fascinated by her than I care about me anymore. She is confident and professional. She has a stack of folders labeled with braille, and braille typewriter thingy I’ve never seen before to take notes as I talk. She hands me papers that she can’t see but describes them to me in detail. It blows my mind as she helps me to fill them out.

She asks about the forms and records I brought, and asked if I would give her a summary, since she could not scan through them. As I start describing my lengthy and complicated neurological issues, I could sense compassion in her, as I have for her. Mutual respect was huge in this room – like we were both thinking “Damn, I don’t want to be her…” I could tell she wanted to see me when I talked about my scoliosis, because you might think I am visibly deformed, but luckily my curves are balanced and my surgeons are talented so no one would ever know by simply looking at me. You can see my limp when I walk though. So I’m thinking she was not always blind, the way she looked directly towards things and me.

We had a few of these surreal shared moments. I liked her very much. She explained the program and seemed excited to have me there, that she can actually help me. She said so many come through and disappear, don’t show up again, aren’t willing to work hard, don’t answer phone calls. She said she can tell that I work hard from my past jobs, and that I keep my doctor appointments in the city. I never thought of that as a major accomplishment…but I see her point. That takes planning and commitment, shows responsibility to drive 2 hours away for my neurologists and surgeons.

So, the next step is I wait for them to confirm my medical eligibility, then they will set up vocational skill assessment. I’m guessing typing, reading, math, but I’m not sure what all is involved there. Then they use that to see if I nee training, find some job leads, help me re-write a resume, practice mock interviews so I don’t stumble with those tough questions. They can advocate for me, or work entirely behind the scenes, meaning my employer can know I’m using disabled services or not, we will decide which way is best in the career plan we develop. They will stay with me once I’m hired, make sure the transition is smooth. Then I get to use them again, say if I want progress in my career or my health improves, I’m not stuck. They want me to be challenged and working meaningfully. Wow.

So my nerves are gone and I’m only excited now. Someone on my side to help me navigate these tricky steps to getting back on my feet. I am so grateful.

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Can’t Shake This Funk

Been in a funk a week or so now. Trying to understand where it comes from, and trying to share it with hubby. Neither part is going too well.

Truth is, I am borderline miserable and only enjoy life on those special occasions, not in between.

My job can make me feel proud at times, but mostly it is dull and I get behind because I put off tasks, either to avoid them, or to wait for a settled brain, or  a quiet house. So then it is a stress. I don’t have the neat *now you go to work* and  *now you are at home* distinction. I know I am blessed to work from home so I can be here with the kids. But I don’t feel blessed. I feel frazzled and worn out.

My kids are so demanding, and fussy, and I always hated on moms who let their kids be like that. So, I hate on me. I don’t know how it happened, but I feel so disrespected. And no one is even a teenager yet, so when people joke, just wait, you think it’s bad now?? Well, yes, I do think it is bad now, so thank you for removing all hope for a better future.

I HATE cleaning this house. I hate it so much. At least when I work, I can feel proud that I solved something or created a solution. If I just did housework, yay for me, I figured out how to smear soap and rinse it off. Again. And again. Everywhere. Repeatedly.

So I tried sharing some of these feelings with hubby. And now he is disappointed in me. I always knew he was. He thinks he got jipped, that his wife does not know how to organize and keep a tidy house. He thinks every bit of housework he does is *for me* and a *favor* to me. He truly feels it is all my job and thinks I waste my time. I asked him exactly how many hours I need to work each work to be excused from some housework, because I thought 20-30 hours counted for something. I guess not.

So I am trying to not be so angry, and hurt, but I am. I just am. I see no end in sight. I’m trying to accept that I ruined my chances of a high powered career, and that even if I wanted to do it now, I would probably flake out and fail. I know that I am strong, but I have to accept that I may never be fully mentally healthy. And that pisses me off too.

I’m trying to be constructive today. Hubby has a day off, so I am trying to explain to him, and see if we can work together to make my daily life easier and more enjoyable. I said this house needs a lot of work, and I’m so terrible at organizing. I asked for his help to make a list of goals and mini-projects, broken down into a timeline, so as I go about day by day, repeating the same day, with the same chores, is there something I can cross off my list.

We identified some serious problems, like if I actually wash all of our dishes or laundry at the same time, we do not have room to put them all away. So hubby has honed in on the first problem, like usual, and is tackling it today. And he does not understand why I am not happy with this. I didn’t want to spend today cleaning cabinets. I wanted to make a list of things to do, so I could do them bit by bit.  I am supposed to be working today, making up some lost hours over the last pay period.  So he is off at the Home Depot, buying shelving and paint. With money we don’t have the luxury of spending so I will have to redo the budget, and I can’t complain because he is doing this project *to help me*.

He just doesn’t understand that a shelf will not fix this. It never fixes it. He’ll go to bed tonight feeling great, he fixed a problem today. I’ll go to bed feeling miserable and guilty, since he spent his day trying to fix a gaping wound with a band-aid.

I don’t understand how to run a home. There is too much to do. If I focus on one room, I have a clean room and the rest has gone to hell. None of the strategies work. Nothing has a place, I don’t where to put it. 12 years in this house, and I still don’t know where we keep the sugar, because it is always different. Wherever it was left or shoved, or fit at that moment.

I am not Martha Stewart, have no idea how to decorate or even make a room pretty or functional. In the movies, they always say, *oh this home needs a woman’s touch*. Well not this woman.

The feeling I can’t shake, is that I am BETTER than this life. And I am ashamed of that feeling. Why shouldn’t I clean up my own house? Well, I always thought I would have a beautiful mansion, and a staff of service people. It was part of my escape fantasy, and the *I’ll show them* attitude I had growing up. So, it really boils down to admitting failure, and they were right. All the lies of *you can be anything you want* from every teacher was a lie. What is want is not accessible to people like me. So instead of enjoying my lovely family, I feel trapped in a prison of endless duties, responsibilities, and worries. So then I feel shame, guilt, and hate on myself for not feeling grateful.

 

I finally feel like I belong in this world

On Sunday, I was driving on the interstate thr...

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It only took me 35 years to feel like I belong in this world.

The first 16 years I didn’t even know I was a person, with individual rights to my own feelings, needs, dreams. I only dreamt of being invisible or getting away, far away. No other plans. No dreams of being president or an astronaut. Certainly no dreams of getting married, and even further was the thought of having my own kids.

Getting to college, I had my first glimpse that I could hope for a future, but had no idea what I wanted in that future. I thought success was about working hard, as hard as you can. Perfectionism was at its peak in high school through college through my first years as a teacher and mum.

I was married, but felt alone. I still felt disgusting. I hated who I was inside and did not understand why my husband wanted to be with me. I worked harder. Full time teaching job, part time evening tutoring job, part time freelance artist, part time grad student. I kept myself at the perfect weight, through controlled starving and flip flopping through excessive eating and then excessive exercise.  I kept  perfect grades in every class I ever took. Ever. School never seemed that hard to me, just regurgitate the information in the proper format and voila, another A. I kept my home sporadically perfect, flip flopping between procrastination and excessive cleaning to get it perfect again. I was the perfect wife by never complaining, never sharing my dark thoughts, never sharing my doubts or lack of trust, never letting him know I didn’t feel any love in myself. If I just worked hard enough, those terrible feelings would go away, right? No one will know I was damaged by a terrible man, abused by my own father.

When depression hit again, (first time was first year of college) and I could no longer be perfect, I quit my job and dropped out of grad school, so there would be no permanent record of my imperfection. I thought I wanted a divorce, to just be alone, but I thought that would be admitting failure too, so changed my mind. But all that nothing, not being perfect, was too much with all of the pain of processing abusive memories, and I wanted out. I thought I did not belong in this world, all it has to offer is pain. I had no hope. I tried to end my life.

Somehow I got up out of that pit of despair, with the help of counseling, a constantly supportive husband, and a truckload of meds. (effexor, zoloft, paxil, depakote, xanax, even lithium when they thought I might be bipolar). After the depression was years of anxiety and panic attacks that sent me to the ER a few times, and running out of rooms plenty of times. I found a job I could do from home and withdrew from the world.

Then I started thinking about having an imperfect resume. What? Why would that matter? Yes, well it did then. I could not stop thinking that I did not want to ever explain that I lost my mind and my job, who would ever hire me again? So I had to get pregnant. I knew raising kids was the only acceptable reason for quitting my first classroom job. Thing is, we were broke. We had just bought a house based on my teaching salary. I not only lost the income, but the insurance, and the COBRA payments were so much, and all those meds, were like $1000 a month. But we paid it, to get me healthy. And I felt sooooo guilty. I found a state sponsored program to help low-income parents have babies. We got pregnant and signed up. I had my first baby through the free clinic. It was humiliating and not the special experience I had with a “real” OB in my later pregnancies. I also got WIC and drug tested often. I said I am poor, not a drug addict, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t wait to meet my daughter and see if she would fill the hole in my heart, so it was all worth it.

My daughter was born, and I did finally feel love. It was spectacular. But then I felt guilty. Post partum depression hit me and I felt like a failure again. But I worked so hard to regain perfection. I only took 2 weeks off from week, and worked so many long hours while holding babies and toddlers. I never spoke to adults, including husband most days, we were both too tired. We lost each other. We were hurtful to each other. He felt like an outsider coming home to kids and wife he didn’t really know. But he never lost his love, or his desire to support us. So he worked harder too.

So here we are, 9 yearsafter my first baby, 18 years of feeling lonely, hurt, and like a failure in a relationship. 35 years of feeling like a failure in life. Here I am now – I have a network of friends that accept me as I am and show they love me, and I love them too. I am busy sharing joy to the world and helping others gain confidence with these friends. I have re-connected with my husband in a more glorious way than I ever knew possible and finally feel true love. I have such beautiful children that I still don’t always think I deserve them, but mostly I know I do. I know I don’t have to just keeping working so hard, that its ok to not be perfect, and that love is forever.

I finally know what love feels like. Actually feel it. I love myself enough to actually feel it. I feel it so strong from my friends, family, and now my husband that I am moved to tears. I finally feel like I belong in this world. I am accepted. I am ok.

And I am ever so grateful.