Once upon a time, in a land far, far away from here…Okay, not that far and terrible cliches. I use to work several jobs, up to 80 hours a week, yet here I now sit. I had always had some sort of health issues through out my life, but they had not stopped me from working. Not until a couple years or so after the birth of my second son and moving to a new house did I have to quit again.
Perhaps it was the stress of that that contributed to my getting knocked on my butt. I had to stop working for awhile. Then, several years later, my health seemed to improve, so I started working again. This time when my doctor put it to me bluntly, that it was my family or my job but it could not be both. That, perhaps, working wasn’t worth losing my life for, I quit working again.
I don’t think anyone who has worked up to 80 hours, consistently, should be considered someone who is opposed to working. I get that there are plenty of people that have to work like that to make ends meet. However, there are plenty of people who seem to know how to maneuver around the system to avoid working. I’m not one of them. My parent’s put a strong motivation to work in me and to work hard.
Granted, after the birth difficulties I encountered with my first son, I quit work to stay home with him. My boss said she could see that coming. I told her she should have told me, because I was in the dark. I never saw myself as a stay at home mom. A year or so later I rejoined the workforce.
I am no stranger to illness. When I was nineteen, I had ulcers so severe that they could not believe I was still walking. Yet, before the diagnosis, despite the fact I had been vomiting all weekend, I went to work. They couldn’t tell I was sick and at first denied my request to go home. Later, after my second vomiting at work, I said I was leaving. That afternoon, I ended up in the hospital.
Throughout my twenties, I was in and out of doctor’s offices trying to find out what was wrong with me. I had tests for Lupus, MS, and a multitude of other things. At the time they weren’t able to diagnose the problem. One of my doctor’s said depression. I’m no stranger to depression either, but I knew it wasn’t that. However, the not knowing was contributing to it.
When my second son was born, I started a new job one week after he was born. When I became so ill after working a couple years, I quit. I didn’t think it was fair to the job or my coworkers. However, they were awesome about everything and were nothing but supportive.
My second son was almost five when I felt good enough to go back to work. I was there at least a year before the complications of my illness got the best of me. The atmosphere wasn’t as pleasant as my previous work experience and I left, often, in tears. I was trying to work and dealing with an illness that I hadn’t a full grasp on. I ended up on disability.
Going on disability has been a major adjustment. One is my pride, but my family needed the income. They were able to put a name to my illness. Not working has been really difficult. I never excelled at taking care of the household, but I did at most of my jobs. Due to my illness I am unable to drive a great portion of my time.
I have become a stay at home mom. There is nothing wrong with being one, I just never saw myself in that role. The fact is, I’m not very good at that either. I’m limited in what I have been able to do for my kids. They still seem to be well adjusted boys, if not a bit compassionate of other’s limitations. I am fortunate for that.
It’s been several years since I have been able to work from the home. I’m better in the sense I can do a few more things then I could when I first stopped working. I’m up more often. I’ve gotten fatter from the inactivity. People probably think I just sit around and eat bon bons. They’d be wrong. I’ve never been so inactive, for so long, as I have these last seven years or so. I hate it. I hate not being able to just get up and go. I want to make plans. I want to do things. Now there are limitations.
I do not feel sorry for myself. I am not the only person out there who is legitimately unable to work. I try to push my limitations. Sometimes I end up paying for that pushing. But, other times, I don’t. It is those times that I hope for when I am pushing for one more bit of energy to get what use to be seemingly easy tasks to complete. I drive when I feel physically capable. I do housework when my body cooperates. I even cook from time to time. Usually surprises the family, but they deserve to be surprised every once in awhile.
No, my life hasn’t been a storybook of happily ever afters, but it has been a story. The good and bad intermingle to tell the story of my life. I can not say it is what I hoped for, but, perhaps, it was what I needed. My focus was so on work and my identity was locked into that. When the illness became overwhelming, I lost that identity. I couldn’t be that worker, that mother, that wife, or friend. I became someone new. It isn’t a bad version. It is just a new story and how it turns out has a lot to do with how I choose to write it.