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.