Miraculously, I’ve finished another week of work. My life is both easier and harder. Holding this paradox seems to be the Work set before me.
Easier: Mom left me her 2011 Honda CRV, a car with features and comforts I never thought I’d have again. I can hardly believe it’s mine. After scraping a few dollars off the top of my disability check each month to save for a Smart Car, this thing of luxury dropped into my lap (or parking lot). The first time I filled the gas tank, I cried. It cost about half of what it took to fill my dad’s truck.
When Mom bought the car after Dad died, she said to me, “You know you’ll probably get this soon.” It was just one of hundreds of references she made to her own death (It’s that thing old people do—”I won’t be around much longer, so you better…”). I didn’t pay much attention. I was glad she had a zippy little car that she loved. Driving made her feel safe and in control. I absolutely understand that.
Harder: My schedule at work is all over the place—mornings, afternoons, mid-day. I’ve told my supervisor that I need consistency. I need time for my own self-care, and I need to be able to depend on it. I’ve tried to hold my fifteen hours a week to afternoons, but this week was the worst so far. And it’s all to make sure I attend an endless parade of mind-numbing meetings. Some of them have been important—orientation to the organization, introductions to other agencies working with us, procedure—but most are irrelevant to my position. Our boss wants us all to be cross-trained. Part of that, I think, comes from not knowing what our jobs really are yet. But the more of these meeting I go to, the more I can see what’s mine and what’s not mine to own.
Easier: My boss relented on the meetings. She created a buddy system, so my buddy will let me know if I miss anything important. That allowed me to take charge of my own schedule. I’m working 1:30-4:30 every day starting next week. Good for me, but also good for the team. Now they know when I’ll be available for client interviews and care conferences (what I should be doing).
Harder: I had built up a reservoir of stability with my routine and daily monitoring. That’s used up. Everyday is a fight to turn my fear and negativity around. Everyday I feel myself sliding toward lethargy and old habits. I’m hypersensitive and my concentration is fragmenting. I can still see it happening. I can still pause, breathe, and choose not to react, but I’m getting so tired.
Yesterday I had to leave a meeting. The woman leading it was one of those people who starts a sentence, restarts it, jumps to another topic, restarts that sentence and never gets to the point. I know a couple of people like this. They drive me ape-shit. It’s a neurological thing—my nerves want to grab them by the throat.
Luckily, it was the end of my day, and I ran to the Chinese restaurant to eat lunch, listen to my iPod and journal. It helped, but I’m not getting back to my set point like I used to. I’m not able to repair the damage each day all this stress creates. It’s only a matter of time before I really blow.
Easier: Our parents left us some money. It’s not enough to live on the rest of my life, but it will give me some breathing room. I can do my laundry every week. I can get some work clothes. I can even plan a trip to the Southwest this winter to see if more sun and open space will keep me from needing hospital-level care come spring. Poverty has been the biggest stressor in my life. Mom and Dad knew that. They planned their last act of love carefully to ease that for me. I’m so grateful.
No matter what happens, no matter how the easy and the hard continue to play against each other, I am a success. I have gone to work every day for three weeks. That’s a miracle. Walking through the office door is a miracle. Waking up and doing it again is a miracle. Even if it all stops today, I’ve triumphed. No one can take that away from me. It’s all mine.
Man, I freakin’ rock.