“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. “

24 Nov

When I was small, time flowed like golden syrup. Leaves hung in their buds for ages, full to bursting, seams dripping with the sugars of life. A summer breeze lingered, its sweat beading on your skin under a dark sun, heavy in the sheltered sky. I dreamed in my backyard, underneath the slyly growing birch tree, my initials carved with Joey’s with bottlecaps dredged from the gravel drive beside my dirty white house, low slung porch on the rear. I dreamed of my future, of my singular answer to the question everyone asked with that terrible smirk on their face.

“What will you be when you grow up little girl?”

I had as many answers as pebbles in that driveway. On Tuesday, under the maple hiding from the rain, I would be an artist, my fingers catching minutes and transferring them, chastised to the page. On Saturday, digging earthworms from beneath the wild strawberries, I would be a paleontologist, my world rooted in one millions of years old, pale scratchings against the earth, dusty with hope. Maybe an inventor, standing on my front porch on gray April morning, trying to invent wipers for my glasses, or a removable film. Perhaps a teacher as I stood in front of my cuddle friends, Papa Smurf, Lion, Garfield, Holy Hobbie, my ragged chalkboard stapled to the wall behind my door.

My world was a flower spiraling open then, a multitude of paths leading outward, into a glorious center, a future I couldn’t see but could stand warm in, the reflected moments shining back at me. I would be something-I would be the person I could best be, and nothing would stop me.

Life it seems, has different ideas.

*********************************************

I never finished school. I never settled on any one thing that I wanted to do. I didn’t have the perseverance to write every day. I’m not that good an artist. I couldn’t sit through the biology, the sciences, the math (oy the math) to do anything remotely like digging up a dinosaur. I surfed through my life on charm, wit and a perverse lust for knowledge-so long as you’re enraptured with learning, you’ll never look stupid and useless.

But knowing the rhythm of someone’s life in the 14th Century or that Ron Jeremy is a trained pianist or having pity for Catherine of Aragon-these aren’t skills you can transfer to the real world. These are bits of useless knowledge, gathered up like oregano just a little short for the pot. A love of learning doesn’t translate to much.

I had a talk with my boss today, who was frank and said she couldn’t trust my work. She’s right. She can’t. My attention to detail, a monkey on my back since, shit, when did they start judging school work? it has been worse since August. Something died on that gurney in the ER 3 months ago, someone died. Since that day, I haven’t been who I was, and my ability to really focus in on my work has been sparse at best. So she put it to me-is the job, as it stands now, too much for me?

I couldn’t respond at first. Nothing in my life has prepared me to have to say “Yes, I can’t do this. Yes, I am weak and lazy and unfit.” I’ve never had to ask someone to take work away, generally being the yes girl. But I haven’t been her since August, maybe even before that. I’ve been overwhelmed, and stressed and terribly unhappy.

She was blunt-the job is only going to get bigger, and what parts do I want, do I really want to do. The answer I didn’t give was “None-I want a new job.” but I know what things I’d like to keep, and what I’d like to be rid of. But what got me was that I heard, for the first time, what was really being said.

“You are too ill to do this job.”

It wasn’t implied to be mean, or to belittle. It was more to let me know that it was ok to back down. It was ok to be tired and stressed and sick of it. That it was ok to acknowledge my illness and handle it, instead of ramping myself up to such a state that someone would have to send King Kong up after me. While she was saying it with her ass in mind, I heard a message for me-to take this chance, and slow down, sit back.

I had such dreams for my life as a child-but they never included an illness that seems to worsen each year, and attempt to destroy me. In my world, you never get fired, you never quit because something is hard. You stick it out. You make the best of it. You deal with it, suck it up princess.

This has not served me well. Sure, 8 years employment for a bipolar is great. But I’m tired of sucking it up, of working twice as hard just to look like I’m doing the minimum. I’m tired of fucking around to avoid tasks I can’t stand. I’m tired of being pressured to be someone I’m not. I’m quite done with doing a job I’ve never planned for, never daydreamed about under maples.

I’m pondering now, what will work. I know she’s right-I’m not suitable for most of the job, not now. But other parts of it? I am.

***************************************

Sometimes, riding the bus home, I see a new baby, a nervous new mother, shielding the child in a sling or carrier, her hand behind a head. I begin to dream about being the woman standing there to catch that baby, handing that slippery package to hands and a breast, the blood of new life running between my fingers as tears of joy run ragged edges down faces around me. I dream of guiding the bereft through their loss, holding still fingers in mine. I dream of the babies I’ll bring into this world, how they’ll turn to children, to women and men, to mothers and fathers, the circle turning and turning.

I still dream. Of life.

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15 Responses to ““Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. “”

  1. Bipolarlawyercook November 24, 2008 at 9:20 pm #

    Please keep dreaming. I’m sorry you’re at this point right now, and I’m thinking of you.

  2. sweetsalty kate November 24, 2008 at 10:01 pm #

    Weak and lazy and unfit… no. You’ve been doing the same job for 8 years, am I reading that right? You’re tapped, and three months ago, the point was pinned to the wall right in front of your face. This does not mean all those things you think it means. It just means you’re tired of this job. It is not what you dreamed for yourself. Haven’t you known this for a long time, prior to august?

    What’s next is figuring out what’s next… and only you know what’s possible and what’s priority (and anything of a high enough priority can be made to be possible)…
    xoxo

  3. Jennifer November 25, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    So, will they allow you to move to another position in the company? DO they not have some sort of “stress leave” or something of that nature? Can they not see that you do need a bit of help and maybe let you work part time or something. With the full pay? What are your options. Did you ask her that?

  4. Gwen November 25, 2008 at 9:47 am #

    I don’t remember you loving this job. But maybe there is a job that you will love. And because you love it, you’ll be great at it. And then you’ll realize you’re so much more than your disease.

    It might be time to look for that job, even though it’s hard and scary.

  5. bromac November 25, 2008 at 10:10 am #

    Shit, man, I’m sorry. You knew it was coming, said as much last week, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

    Why does this damn disease have to affect every single part? Can’t we have anything in our lives that isn’t a struggle? I’m so sorry.

    Are you hinting at midwifery? Nursing? Is there a way you can get the schooling to do one of these? I don’t know about there, but here, in the US, there is a major need for nurses and great programs to get you there.

    Hang in there, you’ll figure it out. I believe you can reach your dreams.

  6. Marcy November 25, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    I’m glad you and your boss had that conversation, and that nothing blew up. Asking wisdom for you all as you choose what to do next.

  7. Cynthia Page November 25, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    Relate. Teh crazy was the root cause of every job change I made in the last ten years.

    Eight years – that is perseverance. I have never been able to stick with *anything* that long.

  8. thordora November 25, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    Thank you-all-for your support. It’s incredibly meaningful today.

    I do need change. I don’t love my job. I’m not right for it, and it’s becoming increasingly obivous that I am a liability to my boss. It’s not anyone’s fault. I won’t become anal retentive about details-ever. It’s who I am.

    8 years is a long time. Doctors have always commented how rare it is for an unmedicated/unstable bipolar to hang onto a job. But that’s really all it is. I hung on.

    I think it is time to let go.

    I want to go into nursing, eventually midwifery. But schooling is expensive and time consuming and I need to sit down and really do the math and see what can be done. Because I’ll never keep a job this long again that I dislike-I only held on out of fear…fear that grew each year. The fear is receeding, and I’m left feeling like I did at 19….but at 31, that feeling sucks ass.

  9. bromac November 25, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    loans? grants?

  10. March November 25, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    you’d make a great nurse… so do see what can be done towards that.

    it’s tough to let go and start from scratch, believe me I know. but sometimes staying in the “known” is way worse than the uncertainty.

    have you been able to make any progress in the job hunting?

  11. Bon November 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm #

    eight years is about six years longer than i’ve ever held a single job. i also don’t know that i’ve ever had a job i loved. liked, yes. but i’m still trying to figure out what that love would be. i think it’s great that you have a vision for that…seriously, that’s the biggest hurdle.

    i think you’d be a kickass midwife. i would trust you, in that circumstance, i think…a circumstance in which i give very little trust.

    if the fear that kept you holding on is receding, letting go sounds wise, maybe exciting…though i get the uncertainty aspects. i’ll need to find a job again come the end of my mat leave, and you know the economy here…thin in the best of times, which these are not. so if you still want to send that resume, maybe we can work on it? just give me a few days to surface here…right now, i’m not mentally well enough to be doing the job i’m doing, either.

  12. Kathryn November 26, 2008 at 8:46 am #

    Sorry to read that you are in such a quandry right now. I can only imagine how difficult it is. However, it seems as though this may be the time for you to begin the path of what you really want to do in life. Not too long ago I let go of what I was doing on a daily for five years and made an incredible leap – went back to school and changed careers, completely. I’m not exactly in the job of my dreams right now, but I did do what I set out to do . . . beyond that, at this point, what more could I ask?

    Stay tough – you will be a-ok!

  13. Hannah November 26, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    eight years is a long time in any job, for anybody. our demographic is supposed to have an average of seven career changes in our liftetime (that’s careers, my friend, not jobs). believe me, i know the fear that comes with giving up the security of a steady paycheque. but sometimes you have to take risks in order to make room for opportunities.

    you know what i’ve been doing work-wise. and it’s scaring the crap out of me. but last week i got a line on a job that would be perfect for my life right now… one that i never would have been offered if i hadn’t walked away from my pre-baby job. i’m proof that sometimes it’s best to shut your eyes and jump! – and you’ll find on balance that you’re better off, even if there are some days when you sob and wish for a do-over.

  14. superlagirl November 26, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

    “Doctors have always commented how rare it is for an unmedicated/unstable bipolar to hang onto a job.”

    People say a lot of dumb shit about Teh ZOMG! Bipolars! Doctors especially.

    I so relate to this post.

  15. Sharose February 3, 2009 at 2:20 am #

    Tonight in a less then hopeful mood I looked up a few things like disability insurance and employment positions all a the same time. I could not focus on any of it– feeling the usual of late overwhelm and exhaustion, I was thinking if i have to continue a worklife of doing what has always felt like an endless series of mistakes in employment adventures, that it clearly does not feel worth living. Lately i wonderered if this life long issue is really is a disease and its not going to change and my renewed, dust your self off pipe dreams are just that– renewed false hope and denial. This of course is paired with that im lazy and just trying to get out of work. I decided on a whim to try something different since i cant seem to ocunt on my own reality checks at the moment.

    At a 12 step meeting today i heard a prayer a women said for herself and then invented my own like it. Tonight i typed it in on the search bar said said another prayer that id find something to help me and then hit go. Here i am on your web site. Unbelieveable, but not.

    Im feeling better reading your blog. So often i hate the thoughts that circulate in my brain and blame myself for the fears i create. I also related to your trying to convince yourself that you are loved, lovable. Ifeel like a real piece of work. I look good on the outside but live with terror and major insecurity on the inside. All this would be fine if it didnt effect my ability to thrive in the world. I live in constant economic insecurity.

    I consider my self bipolar II and can certainly relate to your job dilema but from a different stand point. The other day the person in charge of the small store now that the owner has died, said she thought it was like im somewhere else and my little mistakes in this little part time job are showing up. I am truly powerless to control this. As of recent i have lost 3 very close/significant people in my life. It seems Ive I gotten wackier since then or at least more exhausted and indifferent when i shouln’t be. I can relate to the exhaustion you feel just to maintain a satisfactory presense. I am very good with people but it feels harder and harder to put energy into things and like you im always aware of how these people without effort seem to have the normal li, kids vacation and jobs.

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