Processing: Successes and Setbacks

I’m doing a bit better today. Had a short, quick talk about flea-killing options beyond flea meds. All they can think to do is bomb the house. While there are other options, if they are willing to do anything at all about it, I’m game.

I’m not as angry right now as I was yesterday. I parted ways with regret a long time ago, and I don’t regret helping anyone. If I can help, I will. I’m just realizing that right now I’m simply not able to. I might not be able to for a long time. A lot of lessons have been learned through all of this, and I don’t think my efforts were in vain. Everyone I’ve helped is better for it now. But the problem is that there doesn’t seem to be anyone left to pick up my pieces.

Although. It is quite possible that I do not let them help me. I’m strong willed and when people sense that, I sometimes wonder if they think “oh, well she’s strong, she can manage on her own. Sometimes I tell myself that. But it’s really not true. I’ve accepted people into my home because they needed a place to stay and because I was having trouble paying the rent. It wasn’t the only reason, but it also shouldn’t have been part of my decision process. I don’t regret helping others. I do recognize that I have a hard time asking for help, that when I do ask for help, I don’t ask for enough of it, frequently enough, loudly enough. I hate feeling weak (even though I know I am not) and I hate the thought of inconveniencing others. I hate the idea that they might resent me later. What if I can’t reciprocate? What if I try and try? Or what if someone helps me with whatever it is and then things get worse? Losing a friend seems a lot worse to me than not getting the help I need. This is all complicated by the fact that I do not qualify for government assistance in my state because I own my car outright and I have a retirement account from my former employer’s matching program. And my name is listed as an owner on my father’s old house.

I’ve been trying to develop a business with my sewing. So far I’m in the red. Mostly because I’ve done a lot of skilled labor for free or for cheaper than is really fair. I don’t want to charge friends the same as anyone else, but seeing as friends are currently my only customers, I’m going to have start asking for a fair wage. I did a royal blue bridesmaid’s gown with a black petticoat for $150, counting in the gas to deliver it, the extra materials I had to buy… I’m guessing I’ve netted about 90 dollars for 24 hours of work… $3.75 per hour. It was my fault for underestimating the amount of work involved and the cost of materials – and for not being more direct when telling my client what the market price of the dress would be. Besides this dress, I’ve done baby blankets for incredibly cheap considering that knitted baby blankets also take many hours. Other promotional stuff… I did a cake in the shape of the mad hatter’s hat, complete with all requisite accessories (it turned out pretty damn good, if I should say so myself!) as a gift, not realizing it was going to 8 hours and over $50 in supplies. Maybe I didn’t have to be that extravagant, but I didn’t want to turn out a crummy looking cake for someone I care about…

So many times this year I’ve told myself to stop doing skilled labor for free. It’s to the point that I’m not even sure if I can go to the Femme Conference that I’ve been looking forward to for 2 years. I’m also battling so much fear. I’m afraid to go back to school in case I have another bout of pretty serious depression like what happened this spring… but I need to go back. I’m also terrified of becoming gainfully employed and realize this seems like a silly, petty issue and that I should just suck it because everyone has to work, it’s just what you do… If I get a job, I’m afraid I’ll be stuck in it because I won’t have time to sew and I won’t be able to transition to being self-employed. I’m afraid that if I get a job, I’ll fail my classes because I won’t have time to complete the work. I’m afraid that my job will cause more stress and anxiety in life than I can handle now. I used to cry while driving to work and while I was coming home from my former job. If that type of thing happens, I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe I need to talk to someone who knows how to match people with just the right type of job…I’d love it if I could get a job as a seamstress, but I’m not sure if I have all the skills necessary for that. Would someone be willing to work with my as I learn more and more?

What’s good you say? Hasn’t something good been happening? Of course! I’ve lost ten pounds in the past year, and six of those in the last three months. I lowered my hemoglobin A1c from 6.8% to 6.2% (normal is under 6%) and I’ve been enjoying walking and exercising once or twice weekly with a good friend, just walking circles in our neighborhood on the block around her house. Easy stuff. But my body needs it. My counseling sessions are going well. I think the anti-depressant I’m taking is making me feel better. I’m doing a better job of “externalizing” my feelings by blogging, talking to the people I’m angry with, venting to sympathetic friends… I’m not 100% yet but I am getting there.

So there is some good happening along side my current struggles. I’m working toward expanding my successes and thinking through my apprehensions. I’m starting to be real with myself about my needs, about what I want out of life, and about what type of an emotional/physical workload I can actually handle. This reality check was gradual, not all at once, but every day I’m learning more and more about myself, my strengths and weakness. My goal list has been written and erased and rewritten in pencil so many times this year, but a few things are starting to stick. We’ll see.

Sorry for all this stream of consciousness, non-edited stuff. I am a good writer, I know. But all I’ve been able to do lately is free-write. Maybe that is a good place to start from scratch.

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2 thoughts on “Processing: Successes and Setbacks

  1. Not that you are only responding to me. But I don’t think you should regret anything, I would like to see you care got for people in a way that doesn’t leave you so depleted.

    On another note, I was SCARED SHITLESS about getting a job for pretty much all the reasons you mentioned. It kept me up at night when I was in grad school, wracked with terror. I struggle with all kinds of paralyzing fears when it comes to moving forward with this kind of stuff.

    But it really is okay. My job is challenging and requires me to think and be creative and make things happen. It’s helping me to do things that used to scare me, it’s allowing me to meet incredible people and giving me the financial security to live the life I want to live. It’s a struggle sometimes to balance everything, but just know that professional jobs are so much different than the crappy jobs we are both used to doing.

    For now, while you’re in school, just find something part time and low key. What do you pay in rent right now? You could probably find a cute place like Mia’s old apartment, if you want to move out and can find enough of a job to supplement student loans, that’s what all my friends did.

    Anyways, you’re not alone, I’ve commiserated about this a lot with people who felt similarly. And I felt terrible about not being able to just suck it up, because work is just what you do. It’s really hard.

  2. Just wanted to let you know I’m here, reading and “listening.” You’re doing yourself worlds of good by letting it all out like this. That’s the only way to get better. All these things you’re going through, you are also learning from. You are working towards changing your future – that is the ultimate goal and don’t ever lose sight of that. Otherwise you will be doomed to repeat this misery year after year. Take this time to assess, allow yourself to find the quiet and then grow into who you want to be.

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