Moving

I’m looking for a new apartment. I don’t really want to move, not really. The reasons for moving are by far financially motivated. We do have issues with this place, and my daughter is the most unhappy here, but nothing here would prompt me to leave if I could more easily afford it.

When we rented this apartment, we were in a different financial space. Or… I should say, I thought we were. A lot of things have come to light in the past few months that lead me to believe that most everything I believed was not, precisely, true. But what is truth anyway, but something perceived. So I won’t go too deep just now into what I thought was true versus what I now believe to be true.

Regardless, I am looking for a new place.

What I find really interesting is how that theme seems to be creeping across my life in all areas. It’s not that I hate what is, or that I am motivated to move on to something different or better. I feel like I am being forced out of where I am.

My job, heh. I was so excited about this new job. But, as with all things, what was billed is not what I got. And that’s okay. But I just can’t do the hours or the stress. I thought I would be working in a fast-paced, patient-centered environment. What I got is a pressure-cooker of over-worked staff, just trying not to kill people with the pace and strain of too much work and not enough bodies or time to do it. Maybe I’m just getting old, but running around for 11+ hours a day is just too much for me. And If I’d known it would be like this, well… whatever. So, I’m looking for an exit.

But, trying to move while trying to survive a poor job choice? Not so fun. And I have, literally, no support. I feel like my movements throughout the days are just me being forced into choosing the least worst scenario.

I feel the same way about my social media presence. Because I am pretty much a hermit unless really motivated to get out (or more likely, by some miracle, not too exhausted to get out) most of my social interaction is online. My husband likes to sneer at my love of Facebook, but honestly, it’s where my friends and family are. Whatever.

But, I am so drained by what I see in the world. I just want to shut it all off. I feel like, there’s so little I can do, and so little hope that things will go well regardless of what I do or don’t do… it’s incredibly depressing. And so many of my friends, to their credit, work so hard on our global future, and it hurts me to see their efforts being swept aside by our new administration. I feel like I am being forced to choose between interacting with my friends and not drowning in negativity. If I take a break from social media, my life will contract so much. However, perhaps I will feel less like the world is a terrible place. I just don’t know.

I talk to counselors, and I get a lot of the same kind of double-speak. If you don’t want to see it, turn it off. If only it were that simple. I’m supposed to reach out when I need support, offer support where it’s needed by others… yet… turn off the spigot of news that comes along with all of that? It’s really not possible. Unless I move to a commune… and that’s unlikely.

My kids want my support and interaction, but don’t want to know how unhappy I am. I get that. But I want their support, too. It’s hard being a mom with strong daughters. I raised them to be independent… and they are.

I recently joined a pen-pal group. I decided I needed some non-political, non-judgmental interaction. And it’s sweet getting a card or note in the mailbox from someone who doesn’t know me at all, telling me how great it is to be able to communicate. I like it. I know that my own offerings are also appreciated.

I also recently went to the local college to see, realistically, what I might do with my many credits, how I could forge them into a degree that could lead to a well-paying job. The advisor seemed genuinely surprised when I asked her what degrees they offered lead to the greatest success for students. She didn’t think they tracked that.

She said, “I go to work and go home. I don’t really pay attention to what’s out there for jobs. I guess we offer these programs ( a few I had mentioned) because there is a need in the community, but I don’t know if our students are finding work.” She went on to say that in their allied health programs, the students are waiting, sometimes years, to gain entry to advanced degrees because it’s so competitive.

You could say I was disappointed.

What good is an advisor who has no idea how to guide her students? She DID tell me she would be happy to register me, though. I told her I would think about it.

Do I need a career counselor? A life counselor? I don’t really have the energy to plot my own best course right now, yet treading water is getting harder.
The things I’m good at don’t (apparently) pay the bills. Or the rent.

So while I am half-heartedly looking for a new apartment, I am also considering moving out of my current life, too.

Perhaps I WILL join that commune.

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Pushmi-pullyu

Dr. Dolittle had a creature that made him a lot of money, a pushmi-pullyu. This creature had two heads and two front bodies. The benefit was, the animal cold both eat and talk at the same time. The drawback was, it couldn’t decide which direction it wanted to go. No matter where it went, half of it was uncomfortable walking backwards. Therefore, it spent most of its time standing in one place. But that creature, on display, was a source of some pretty good income for Dr. Dolittle.

I have felt kind of the same way most of my life. Not the Dr. Dolittle way,exploiting outlandish creatures for profit. No, I have felt more like the pushmi-pullyu, forever trapped between coming and going, and watching others profit from my efforts.

There is a battle inside me. Dramatic? Probably. True? Definitely. I want opposite things in life. I want adventure and I want stability. The adventure side of me wants to travel, write, take chances, jump off cliffs (well, maybe not THAT one), etc. The stability side of me wants a 9-5 job, paycheck every 2 weeks, and the ability to know what’s going to happen next week, next month, next year.

Now, some people do have both. They have a steady job that pays well enough so they can vacation and travel and jump off cliffs. They can pay their bills without worry and can spend their free time being adventurous. They can take chances in their work because they are secure in their profession. They enjoy their profession, and therefore have the emotional energy to pursue other passions in their downtime.

I would say not many people have both, but they do exist.

Far more people have the stability. They have a regular job with regular pay and they go to work five days a week to pay the bills. They spend their downtime “recovering” from drudgery. They go on vacation once or twice a year to escape their regular life.

Some people have the adventure. They travel, they backpack, they scuba-dive – all over the world. They don’t have 9-5 jobs, and their income is either based on the results of their adventures, or (more likely) they have some family money behind them and can afford to live without a steady paycheck.

Of course, then there are the majority of us. We don’t have “good” jobs. We struggle every month to pay the bills. Our life is a never-ending series of adventures in poverty. We take chances by playing the lottery, spend our tax returns on frivolous enjoyment, and continually make choices that keep us in the hamster wheel of the service class.  And for most of us, we stay in that wheel our entire lives. So, what does all of this have to do with a fictional creature in a children’s book?

Everything.

We all have within us a duality. A sense of conflict between doing what we think we want and doing what we think we should.  Most people go their entire life with this feeling just a slow burn of small dissatisfactions. Perhaps they act out as teenagers, but eventually settle down. Perhaps they blow-out with a mid-life crisis, but then meekly put the pieces back together.

Some people just never settle down.  They never lose the strong sense that there is something else they should be doing, some greater cause to pursue.  A very few reach great heights because of family circumstance, good choices made with good guidance, or luck. The rest of that group tends to stay in low-paying jobs because those are the jobs that don’t tie you down.

Not everyone who flips hamburgers is an adventurer at heart, but I’d bet serious money there are more would-be adventurers selling you your morning coffee than doing your taxes.

Me? I’m spectacularly good at making no money. I rise to the top of every low-level job I take, because I am driven, ambitious, conscientious, polite and service oriented.  I am the “lead”, the “shift manager”. I am the “boss”, who isn’t really, ever, the boss. The service industry loves my type of worker, and I have always increased my employer’s profits. But I’ve never made anything close to a comfortable wage for myself.

I have been termed “underemployed” because I have a vast skill set, yet little to show for it. I have no degree, but have taken classes in nearly every discipline. I have aced creative writing, trigonometry, psychology and anatomy & physiology. I have tutored students who have gone on to good jobs with good money.

I have traveled and lived in much of the US and in Europe. I have been asked to speak at conferences all over the world. I am published. I have been front-page news in my local newspaper and middle-ish news in the Wall Street Journal. I have an outlandish CV.

And yet, I work in a service industry job in a health care facility. I can’t pay my bills with the paycheck I make.  I am exhausted at the end of each shift I work, and I can barely muster the energy to write a grocery list on weekends, let alone anything else.

Why?

I know I’m not alone. I know there are many, many people like me who have tasted what it’s like to live a life of grand adventure, but who seem stuck in the mire of poverty.

I don’t have the answer, because if I did, I would act. It’s not college. I’ve tried that. I love school. But I have never been able to “nail down” a major, something I can see myself doing for “the rest of my life”. It’s not about taking chances. I’ve done that. I’ve lept off the cliff and soared for a while, before both my life and I came crashing down. Is it laziness? I don’t know. I work 50+ hours a week, on my feet. If I were lazy, would I be able to do that? Is it mental illness? I seriously ask because I think it might be a little bit of depression and anxiety that holds me back.  I think there is a lot of truth in the last one.

Which brings me to Dr. Dolittle and his pushmi-pullyu.  I want to break out and do great things, but I want to stay safe and small, too. I haven’t been able to keep going in one direction before my other half takes over and drags me back. I haven’t stood still, far from it. But I seem to end up in the same place, regardless of how far or how long I run.

The funny thing is, I’ve never liked the Dr. Dolittle books. Never. Even as a little kid with a voracious reading appetite, I just didn’t like them. And the character I hated the most?  Shocker: the pushmi-pullyu.

What does it all mean? I’m as interested in the answer as anyone else.

 

Duality

January 2, 2017

I’m not super sure where to start. I’m not even sure I want to start at all. It’s been a while, I don’t know how long, and my creative juices have not only stopped flowing, I’m not sure there’s a body of creativity left. When I imagine my own well of creativity, I see a dry, cracked, dip in a hard, unforgiving ground. Nothing left of the water that may once have settled there, that may once have freely flowed along the channel, nourishing all it encountered. Now, just a dry, dusty space. Perhaps even a bit of rhyme along the edges, as if was once cool and clear had become stagnant, salty and toxic.

I have given myself to a cause that has not given back. I have spent my time and money, my heart and soul, my body and spirit, my health, my essential essence, on something that now feels as if it was never going to work.  And I feel like there is a part of me jeering from the sidelines at what’s left of my optimism. It’s not an attractive duality.

On one hand, I am alive. I have a better job than I did five years ago. My children are mostly grown and are mostly happy and healthy.  I have a better car than I did five years ago. On the other hand, I have more expenses as a result of the last five years. I don’t feel, financially, that I have gained any ground. I actually feel more stressed and more pressed that I did then. But that’s not the biggest issue.

Five years ago I was consumed with optimism for the future. Five years ago I had a plan, I had specific goals. Five years ago, I had no idea what my plan was going to cost me. Beware, you dreamers, you may get what you want, but you might not like the price you will pay.

So here I am, in my precarious space, looking back and wondering if I can even dare to look ahead.

I don’t have it in me to replicate the steps I took five years ago. I will never again risk everything for a dream. My grandfather would say, “never say never”. And perhaps I will find the courage to risk again. But right now, I just want safety. I want to wake up and know how bills will be paid, to know I am safe from eviction, to know I can keep my car for another month. I want to know where grocery money will come from for the month. I want peace.  And right now, I have none of those things.

I got exactly what I wanted, five years ago. I traveled. I started over. I gave literally everything to a relationship I wanted above all else. I got my wish. But what now? We still don’t live together. We still have no real plan for how to be a couple in real time, in real life. I just don’t know what my life means right now.

I have been on the brink of despair a lot this past year. I have semi-seriously contemplated ending my life in favor of the unknown. I value my life too much to actually end it, though. I wouldn’t put that kind of burden on my kids, either. But yeah, it’s been a rough patch. And I don’t know exactly how to get out of my emotional or financial predicament.

I feel like a complete failure.

But… perhaps because I have always had a spark of optimism regardless of how bleak things seem, I have started a course in dreaming and planning for the future. Crazy, right? I am at the lowest point in my life since those dark days when I was 17, and here I am meditating and free writing about creating a “best life”. Duality. It’s my thing, I guess.

So here’s to 2017. Whatever comes, I’m here. I’m not ready. I’m probably as far from ready as I have ever been. But… just bring it. We’ll see what shakes out.

Acknowledge

I hate when people post endlessly about how tired they are, how sick they are, how this hurts, or that aches, or whatever… whine, whine, whine… But right now, right here, this is my rant.

First of all, most people I know don’t know I have Fibromyalgia. It’s not something I spread around, because a) So many people think it’s this made up thing. b) Sometimes I think it’s this made up thing. c) It scares me.

I know so many people who are struggling with Fibro and I fear my life will become small and medically-centered, Fibro-centered. I fear sympathy, tinged with disbelief. I fear lack of control. I have enough going on in my life right now, I don’t have TIME to be sick.

But lately, I’m more than just sick. I have back pain. I mean, serious, serious pain. I have some vertebrae degeneration, some small fracturing, some disk degeneration, some spinal cord pressure… all adding up to a serious level of discomfort. Like, life-altering discomfort. Like, I can’t get out of bed discomfort. Like, I can’t stand, sit or lie down for more than a few minutes in any one position discomfort. But I DO get out of bed. I DO stand all day at work. I DO sleep (medicated sleep, but sleep, nonetheless). But it’s draining. I’ve been in PT for a few months, with absolutely no improvement. I’m on a few different prescribed meds, having upgraded from supplements and alternative remedies. Most of those meds help elevate mood, help control pain and help improve sleep. But most of them also have “drowsiness” as a side effect.

Plus, I’ve been “actually” sick on and off for weeks. Many weeks. I got the Norovirus  after the holidays, and I just haven’t come out on the other side. My doc says no wonder, with all the stress, pain and uncertainty in my life right now.

I am also very tired of winter. Today was gorgeous and I was too sick and tired to enjoy it much, although I did get out for a little while.

So, I’m tired.

I give up. I’m sick. I’m sick of positive thinking. I’m sick of the type of victim blaming that says what you think, you manifest. Screw it. I feel like crap. I will probably feel like crap tomorrow, too. Guess what? It is what it is. I will likely feel terrible for a while, considering.

So…. what’s next? I have some ideas, but the first one is this. I am going to stop fighting being sick.

I have looked and looked, and most advice on dealing with chronic illness includes the word “fight”. No one wants to be sick. No one wants to feel like they don’t have control over their health, their life.

I have “fought” for years and years, with some pretty decent level of success at times. But for the past several months, I have been losing, rather than gaining, ground. So… my new strategy is to just go with it. I learned a phrase this summer that I like: Acknowledge, Ignore, Move On. it’s a great strategy in sales, and in life, when you are moving right along. But sometimes, you just can’t ignore any more. Sometimes, you just have to accept.

I have been acting like I’m not sick for a long time. But the mask has slipped. The facade is damaged. So I am now I am working on “Acknowledge”. I’m tired. I’m tired because I’m sick. I’m tired because my back is a hot mess. I’m tired because the medication that does actually help (although not eliminate) my symptoms makes me tired. None of these things can be ignored. All must be accepted. I think it will take a while before I am there, before I can really accept. I mean, it’s been over a decade since I first found out I had Fibro, and I haven’t accepted it yet, after all.

But before acceptance comes acknowledgement. So this is me, acknowledging the fact that I am sick, I am in pain, and I am tired. And right now, that is enough.