Back in October, I was rear-ended by a child with no car insurance, just as I was beginning the process of switching jobs and losing my own spectacular health insurance. I happened to be on the phone with therapist-fiancé at the time, when I heard squealing tires and thought to myself, “Who is that obnoxious jerk doing doughnuts in the adjacent parking lot??” As a result, I was craning my neck to cast a judgmental stare in the rear-view mirror when I was suddenly jolted forward. While my good old bucket o’ bolts survived with nary a scratch, the offending vehicle crumpled like the dirty banana peel the driver claimed it slipped on. I thought I was fine, because at first, there was no pain. A few weeks later though, there came excruciating pain, and months later a dull ache persists, and at times, seems to be worsening. In the beginning, I followed the best advice I could find, staying mobile in private while publicly claiming I was paralyzed to get favors, but over time, due to the stress of moving and beginning a new job, I forgot about the daily exercises and exercise in general.
Just a few weeks ago, I quit that new job, and now, I am unemployed. And I’m struggling.
Not just physically. I am in a place in my life where I am really feeling yesterday’s mistakes, maybe even developing “regrets,” a word I have previously never believed in, because without yesterday, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But now I have to look around and wonder–exactly where the hell am I?
The first week of unemployment brought much frustration. Already, while still employed, I had been sending out resumes and had gone on a single interview (which bombed), with zero results. I started going over and over my resume, trying to explain in cover letters that though I didn’t have experience under THAT particular job title, I had cumulative experience that no doubt would prepare me for whatever they wanted (answering complex phone lines, butt-kissing, coffee runs, blood sacrifices, etc.). Focusing so much on my resume had me recollecting all of my past achievements but also all of my missteps. Should have stayed at that job longer. Should have never started in that field. Should have continued school. Should have taken up knitting and started an Etsy page. I also recalled all of the reasons I ended up forsaking my original field of study, all of the depression and confusion surrounding my exit from college. My resume is just a butterfly bandage, bridging the gory gap between my decorated school days and my current stability. Things haven’t quite healed in between.
This past weekend, the fact that wounds are still fresh became dreadfully apparent when I had an emotional breakdown focused on how I felt stuck, unable to move forward with my goals and beginning to see that I could NEVER achieve the goals I once thought possible. I was a loser, a quitter, a cruddy decision maker, unqualified for adult life, and dirt poor. I am hardworking, but hard work doesn’t pay the bills anymore. I could never be an author, an artist, an engineer, a mom. I could never teach at a university, I could never study computers or ancient literature or trees. I just couldn’t, and so I fell in a heap on the bed under a blanket, tears streaming silently, until therapist-fiancé came in and saw a comfy looking heap of blankets and decided to climb in bed next to it and hold it for a while.
And then today, it hit me, pun thoroughly intended. I have whiplash of the soul. I was forced to quickly deal with a group of very serious and simultaneous crises in my life, “crashes,” if you will. With the first major crash, having surgery to remove a malignant tumor, I quite literally feared it was the end, and I was sent headlong into visions of an apparently short future. This was followed by intense reflection on the past, coupled with nostalgia and a desire for familiar comforts. I then returned to a painful present, and healing took years of effort, and my progress in the work force came to a hault. There have been a number of subsequent ripple effects, each a minor crash of sorts, but this latest crash of being unemployed is the most severe since the surgery. Having no income while in a large amount of debt creates an initial panic that can set off all sorts of other underlying storms. With the end of that job, I was sent headlong into another bleak future, followed by examining the past by way of my resume and then finally settling into an uncomfortable present.
So if today marks the first day after the screeching of the tires stops, I need a plan to getting better. I suppose the first step is recognizing that there are worse things in life—I’ve been through some of them, after all. From there, I need to see that the past is in the past, unchanging, and how you view it depends on the lens. My resume is a good lens through which employers can view my past, but it is not the sum of who I am as a person, not by a long shot. And the future? The future is useful in planning for dreams or disaster, but the only certain thing about it is that it isn’t a certainty. If I’m going to allow for doom and gloom, I must also allow for unmitigated success and blessings, knowing the result will likely fall somewhere in between. In the meantime, I’m going to start stretching my neck again. I want to go back to the things I know I am good at, and build on that. I want to write more. I want to study computer programs online. Maybe I’ll get a certification in something useful. Maybe I’ll sell a large number of handcrafted, clay, narwhal figurines to my excellent friends and family (they make great jewelry holders!) and start my own narwhal figurine company. Or maybe I’ll just successfully network and work my way up in a normal company. Worst case scenario, I end up on as a bag lady, but on the upside, I’ll have more time to blog and I won’t have to drive anywhere.