A Dream Deferred

collage art

You know those times when you wrestle with a decision?  When you want one thing, but the numbers don’t quite add up?  And then something—a person, an event, a seemingly random set of circumstances—brings it all into focus?  I’m in the middle of one of those epiphanies.

I really wanted to be a Peer (as in Peer Support Specialist).  I wanted to help other folks with mental illness and earn a little money doing it.  I got training last fall.  I was offered a volunteer position at the hospital in Des Moines where I was a patient.  I thought I was on my way.

The trouble is, it costs me at least $50 for gas each week.  That’s money I don’t have, so it goes on my credit card.  There’s still a big balance there from my Peer training, too.  Friends and my UU fellowship chipped in to pay about half (thank you very much), and I applied for scholarships from service clubs, but it doesn’t look like those will pan out.  Every month my balance creeps higher.  Every month I look the other way.

Then, yesterday I got the oil changed in my truck.  I looked at the $70 bill, which I put on my credit card, and knew I had to pay attention.

I can’t drive to Des Moines every week.  In fact, if I ever want to whittle my Visa balance down, I’ll have to park my truck and walk as much as I can.

It seems so simple now.

I’ve been uncomfortable about doing this support group ever since we started talking about it.  I attributed that discomfort to a lot of reasons—I’m too unstable to do the job, the hospital is in chaos, it’s too much stress.  But, those are all just niggles, all things I can work through.  The real reason is that I can’t afford it.

So, I’ll go tonight and tell everyone—the social worker who recruited me, the young man who would have partnered with me in creating the new group, the folks about to “graduate” from After Care who looked forward to on-going support.  I know the After-After Care group probably won’t fly now.  Dan could only convince the two of us to volunteer, and the job is too much for one person.  I am sorry for that.  But not sorry enough to rack up more debt in the hope that someday Mercy will offer me a job.  I can’t sacrifice myself out of fear.

It’s a relief to be done wrestling, a relief to see what needs to be done and be calm about it.  My dream will find a new shape in its own time.  When it does, it will probably seem quite random and serendipitous.  If I hold it lightly.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Secondhand Surfer
    Jan 22, 2014 @ 02:58:13

    sounds familiar


  2. Servetus
    Jan 22, 2014 @ 09:43:25

    Yeah, if they need you that badly they can at least pay your gasoline bill. Good for you for realizing this and making this decision. Most adults can’t afford to work for free — and the knowledge you’ve gain will come in handy in some other way if it hasn’t already.


  3. cathy
    Jan 23, 2014 @ 07:38:06

    Money is so tight these days; especially if you’re on your own and do not have a second income coming in. I have to make decisions quite a bit…the ones regarding “if I want to do this, I have to give up that” sort. I hate being limited but it is what it is. And I’m too tired to consider taking on a second job.


    • Sandy Sue
      Jan 23, 2014 @ 10:37:13

      I’ve come to a kind of peace with my poverty. I’ve tried to go back to work and keep failing, so I know I must exist on my Disability stipend. What I’m hoping for is a chance to work a couple of hours a week as a Peer someday. I think I really could do that.


  4. Littlesundog
    Jan 23, 2014 @ 15:10:05

    Good for you, Sandy. I think a big reason that many individuals/families struggle is because they don’t make these types of decisions. We are all faced with decisions like this, and at some point we simply must do what is necessary to lift or remove the burden. Bravo to you!


  5. Island Traveler
    Jan 26, 2014 @ 11:31:10

    I wish you find the most amazing, calming, happy dream you are looking for. Life can be full of not so good days sometimes and we all need days where dreams are bright and full of great blessings.


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