I’ve been unemployed now for 4 1/2 months, so I’ve had quite a bit of time to think about my late lamented nursing career and wonder what the hell my next act is supposed to be. Still haven’t figured that one out, but then maybe I’m not meant to. I don’t know. I’ve been talking to God about this, but either He’s not answering the phone or I’m just not hearing Him through all the static.
As uncomfortable and humiliating as all this is, I remain firmly grounded in the fact that I am not a loser. Getting that State job proved that to me once and for all. I may be rocking the Morticia Addams look and I’m a lot overweight, but I’ve been successful before and I will be again somehow. I’m terrified that my unemployment benefits will run out before I get another chance at it, but at least I’m not running around feeling like the world’s biggest screw-up.
Not that I don’t have my moments of feeling guilty. I look at Will sometimes and want to weep because I’ve dragged him along through my catastrophes for 34 years, and too often he’s been the one to clean up after me. But those feelings are getting fewer and farther between as I come to grips with the fact that I really do have a problem that’s not fixable. Manageable, yes, but I can no more cure it than I can fly to the moon. And that’s not my fault.
This is a seismic shift in my thought processes. My first instinct is to put the blame for everything that’s gone wrong since 1959 squarely on my own shoulders. I can almost hear my mother saying, “What’s the matter with you, why didn’t you try harder?” But now I can shut that voice up because I know that I did try…..and kept trying until it almost killed me.
Yes, I did commit career suicide by getting sick at a crucial point in that career and “coming out” with my illness, and I’m probably going to be paying for it for the rest of my days. But I also know that if I could have done things differently, I would have.
No one chooses to have a dramatic breakdown at work. No one chooses to be summoned to her director’s office and told “It’s not your fault you’re being fired, it’s your brain chemistry.” No one chooses to lose the lifestyle she has worked so hard for to mental illness. But shit happens, and along with it comes the hard work of putting things together in a way that makes sense given my new reality. I haven’t received the instructions yet, and the kit looks like it’s missing a few pieces…..looks like I’m going to have to learn to improvise. Again. So what else is new?