Last year I explained that I don’t DO New Year’s resolutions but professed my intent to continue to be a “Strong Motherfucker.” Overall I think I achieved that goal, but I still need to make changes to my life particularly because I am living with Multiple Sclerosis and have to accept that MS is simply a part of my life. Even with a loving and supportive partner and improvements to my physical condition my life is far from perfect and truthfully, I feel guilty for saying that. I have found happiness – shouldn’t that be enough? And if it isn’t – what is it that is missing?
Having a purpose or a passion!!!!
Way back, years ago, when I had my first child and left my job at the bank to be a stay at home mom I had no idea what my future would hold. I was blessed to do what I had always wanted. Raise my own kids; be there with them and for them through the trials and tribulations of figuring out how to be great little people. It was what I wanted to be doing – and I did it with great passion (and a bit of “inappropriateness” now and then.)
As the kids grew older and entered the world of school I continued to make them my priority; first volunteering at their preschools, then the elementary school they all attended and eventually as my oldest ventured off into the world of middle school-ness and I began my journey through divorce I secured a job with the school district as an aid and tutor. It seemed an inevitable segue into the next chapter of my life – to continue to surround myself with children. After all – they are simply amazing: honest, genuine and kind – not yet corrupted by all the bullshit the world has to offer.
BUT after completing the districts mandatory one year in an hourly position before being eligible for a full time, benefitted position it quickly became apparent that the volatility of securing a job as an aide (to work with students with special needs) would not bode well with my medical condition and need for on going and consistent medical insurance. I came to learn that given chronic budget cuts and constraints, every year, there are numerous lay-offs; primarily in “disposable” positions (ie an aide.) The policy is “first in-first out” which would have more than likely meant that after my first year in the position, I would find out in June that I no longer had a job (or those “oh so valuable” benefits.) Often times, those on the outs are rehired after the start of the new school year BUT that wouldn’t do anything to assuage the lack of medical coverage during the summer months and it wasn’t a guarantee that there would actually be a job come September.
For those reasons, I gave up my pursuit of becoming an aide and found a job with an internet/app company based here in Seattle. It allowed me to work from home AND provided benefits – pretty ideal. Except for the fact that I really had no interest in WHAT I was doing and WHAT the company did. I found that I was in a job that I had NO passion for – simply going through the motions of working to earn $$ and receive medical insurance. That is not to say that I didn’t work hard and give it my all. But four years into it and it certainly wasn’t providing me with any joy or happiness. So when it was announced that all US employees were being laid off by the foreign company that bought us out – I was over the moon! I could never imagine quitting, leaving a job that provided a steady income and good benefits – but being laid off sounded alright to me.
As a result of this I was able to spend the past year getting my house ready to be put on the market, sold my house, moved and began to focus more on writing. All of these add up to me saying with confidence that I succeeded in continuing to be Strong & Grateful. But as I sit, trying to figure out what the hell I am going to say in my 2017 Happy New Year post I have realized something. I am not sure WHAT THE FUCK I am supposed to do now. Given that my mobility has improved and that I feel so much better on days that I actually get out of the house and interact with others – staying at home all day long while Shawn is at work and the kids are off at school does not seem to be working for me. I love writing, I love connecting with others that are living with MS (and other chronic diseases) but it is very solitary and it is also a constant reminder that I have MS. I know I am not likely to forget given the ever present and insane pain I am living with, but I am not sure that it is healthy to have IT (my MS) consuming all my thoughts. I often feel as if I am wallowing in it.
I am not sure that I can manage a job on top of what I do here at the house and for the family and continue to write. What if I get a job and the stress of adding something else to my plate brings on another flair up and I spiral backwards? Even IF I do decide that I am going to give it a shot – what the hell am I going to do? I go around and around in a vicious cycle of thinking about “what I WANT to do” “what I CAN do” and “what I SHOULD do.” Some days I think I should just go for it and try and find another job around children – but then I get scared that I won’t be able to keep up (certainly NOT with little toddlers:) Then I think maybe I should look into getting my CNA (nurses assistant certification) and a job working with the elderly (after all I SHOULD be able to keep up with them) Other days, I think just a generic job (say at a local grocery store as a check out clerk) would fill my need to BE with people and interact, but without putting too much stress on me. But would that provide me with the fulfillment I am feeling I am lacking right now? Would it allow me to feel that I have a passion again?
As I explained to Shawn the other day – NEVER in a million years would I have thought that I would have a job that I didn’t like and my most recent employment experience has left me a bit jaded on returning to the workforce. Maybe in the many years that I was “making good people” the work world has changed SO much that there isn’t a place or position that would be a good fit for me anymore? I always assumed that once my kids were older I would then pursue a new career – whether it be in teaching, or some medical assistant field, return to working with “special needs” kids, or maybe even counseling. Although the dream wasn’t specific, I never had a doubt that it would be somewhere that allowed me to help others. But, I didn’t assume that I would get Multiple Sclerosis and take into account it’s role in my future and plans.
I am happier than I ever could have imagined with my personal life, with no fucking idea what it is I want to BE when I grow up. I don’t feel as if I am helping anyone and that is leaving me feeling more than just a bit down and out. I want to find something that provides me with that, but not knowing if I can handle it scares the shit out of me. The logical side of my brain says that I would be able to do it (always have.) But the cautious side returns to the “what if I can’t.”
Also add to the mix of unknowns – it doesn’t help that after decades of working his ASS off, all Shawn wants to do is get to retirement to then begin the next chapter of HIS life – and I’m not sure that I want to jump into a whole new thing and then not be around when he is finally able to sit back and enjoy life to it’s fullest. Because I know myself, and if I finally do figure out what it is that I want to do – what I should be, I am going to give it my all and more than likely become fully embedded in it and succeeding at it. IF that happens, I am not sure how easy it would be for me to step away from that – to feeling needed and having excitement and zeal about a career again, when Shawn is able to finally start living and playing more freely.
So -for this New Year’s message, I leave you with this…
I have NO IDEA what is in store for me in 2017!!!!
But isn’t that how it always is with this “fantastical” disease? You just NEVER know – What tomorrow will bring, let alone a whole damn year. But I can promise you that I’ll be sure to let you know just as soon as I figure it out.
All I know is that I REALLY DO HATE the unknown.