Friday, November 1, 2013

Crash


Well, the euphoria couldn't last. I mean, my cousin who is a life coach is amazingly good at helping me shift my perspective to a more optimistic bent, but let's face it, I can't carry her around in my pocket with me, and sooner or later, the harder realities were bound to assert themselves. This freelancing life. Sigh. It's time to diversify, time to admit that I will not actually be able to sit on the mountaintop doing only work that inspires me and makes my heart sing. I have to find work that will actually help cover our bills. I'm trying not to get into a spiral of worry, my stomach in knots. At the same time, I have looked at what I know will be coming in, and it's all already spent, even before it hits my bank account. I fantasized being able to put away a good portion of each check for the rainy days, but that isn't going to happen. Looks like I'm going to get a little bit soaked. Ugh. The old worry habit. The twisting with anxiety. The dark cloud. It's back.

What put me over the top today was a call from my 95-year-old aunt's home care agency, asking me to pull together a sheaf of paperwork to recertify her need for home health aides. I have to now track down all sorts of forms and documents and medical signatures that will prove that indeed, my aunt cannot take care of herself, that she does little more than lie in bed and stare or sleep, though her appetite is good, especially for ice cream and hot chocolate and ackee and salt fish and Jamaican beef patties. The paperwork, so much more than last year and the year before that, just feels like too fucking much. And the emphasis on copies of her bank statements just made me want to fucking scream. She does not have enough money to pay her bills each month. Every month there is a shortfall that I cover. I'm not really sure why this particular task is the one that turned my whole outlook to stormy, but it did. Most likely it is just the straw on top of a pile of worries and aches that I have been resolutely pushing down. And now they're all spilling over.

Meanwhile, at my former job there has been yet another seismic shakeup and the only remaining woman in the corporate C-Suite (who admittedly had a hand in a good number of job eliminations over the past 5 years) has been eased out (the euphemism was that with the reorganization, she has made the decision to leave the company), so now it's just the silver haired men in suits running the show and why is it so clear to me now that no women are allowed to retire from that company, only men. The women are ushered out somewhere in their mid fifties and there is always a reason good enough to get past the raft of compliance lawyers. Meanwhile the men get emeritus titles into their seventies and even their eighties and it is ever thus at that particular corporation.

In better news, this week I went back to physical therapy for my painful left hip and leg, and I have also lost 30 pounds in the last three years, 18 of them since August, but no one has really noticed. Except me. I notice in a lot of small ways. My cholesterol is down 25 points and is now in the good range, my glucose numbers have improved and are also in the good range, basically all my numbers are in the good range and onward.

25 comments:

  1. Oh Angella, I went through this with my mother and it was the most stressful time in my life and I have been a consultant for over 20 years and work has dropped off over the past three years so much so that I am paralyzed with worry. I know how you feel. I keep thinking that everything has always worked out in the past and so there is no reason it won't work out in the future and that each time I have made a change, in retrospect, it has always been for the better. But I have not been in my mid-50's before and it is damn hard and it is maddening. You, like me, are taking responsibility for your aunt and you will not regret that but in the moment it is suffocating. On days like these I can just put one foot in front of the other and go slow and steady. One really positive thing I see is that you are extremely employable. You have not been out of the workforce for very long, the awards you have won will take you a long way and you have a skill that is common enough. My work fits in a much narrower niche in terms of full time employment. I know it is not what you want but it might be doable for a few more years. For what it is worth, I just so know what you are going through and how you feel and I am sorry. Sweet Jo

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    1. Dear Sweet Jo, you have the most generous spirit. it shines through your words. thank you for being here and for that sage advice, one foot in front of the other. i forget sometimes, but it really is the only way. much love.

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  2. Ah. It is an evening for worries, Angella. I have had one since yesterday (well, I have had it for a long time but it became sharper and more in focus yesterday) and it woke me up so many times last night and it has been sitting with me all day, even though I have tried to keep one step ahead of it. It is a worry that I want to feel is baseless but I am almost certain is not and it is not going to turn out well but is one of those things which one has to simply accept, bow down to, say, well...this is how life is going to be.
    Funny. I can't talk about it on my own blog but can come here and speak of it (even in such non-definitive ways) because I do not think that the person I am worrying about follows my trail here.
    Life is just so filled with these worries, is it not? And what can we do? That is what I keep telling myself- what can I do but proceed and deal with things as they arise? And of course, you were given a task to do which WAS an arising. Those damn straws. How they pile up. How there is always that one which sends us into painful spasm.
    Having said all of that (meaning, having said very little), I want to tell you most seriously that I am so very proud of you for the weight loss, for the improved blood-work. This is a huge, big deal! And you should be proud of yourself!
    And I also wanted to say that the exact same thing which happened to you at your job happened to my sister-in-law at hers. All of the women were...eased out...and very soon before their retirements, while the men, oh! They sit there in their catbird seats, counting their gold.
    A little dramatic? Yes? Still true.
    She thought about hiring a lawyer, instead took the very generous terms of being eased out (not as generous as retirement, of course) and immediately found herself a new job. But she is in a different field. Still- how can this still be happening?
    I am thinking of you. As always, I am wishing I could hold your hand. What a comfort that would be, for me at least. So, yes. Let me do that. Let me hold your hand.
    Somehow it will all work out. Not as we would wish, perhaps, but in some way.
    Loving you...Mary

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    1. dearest mary, i am glad you can pour out a measure of your worries here. it does help to look them square in the face, and thank you for being with me in this space as i try to do that myself. the weight loss and blood work? heck, the real triumph was making it the doctor at all! but now i have a doctor i adore, a tiny slip of a woman who makes me feel okay just as i am, so if i have to sit in her waiting room for an hour before i see her each visit, so be it. as for the job front, i think my real issue is i don't want a new job. i want to freelance and make enough to cover my contribution to our bills doing it. with college tuition and sky high housing costs in new york city, it takes two to tango, and i need to keep doing my steps. will i be able to? i am so happy working from home, editing writing by writers who love their craft. i have not been this happy around work in so long, i realize it now. but of course, one freelance gig, even a very beautiful and creatively absorbing one, doesn't pay like a job does. i will have to figure this all out. but thank you, sweet friend. for being you.

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  3. Congratulations on losing 30 lbs and getting the numbers in a better range! That is inspiring. I've just started doing my stretching and the exercise that works for me. I found some music that makes me go and go.

    The rest will fall into place. One way or another and things will look good again.

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    1. Kristin, music is the ticket, that's for sure! my son recently moved home with his various sound systems and brought full bodied music back into our lives. He gave us one of his remote speakers that his dad and i have been using like we're teenagers. such fun! thanks for the kind words about the weight loss. I have a very long way to go but i am looking at it in 5 pound increments. it's good no one has noticed. it means my internal motivation is intact and uncomplicated by external expectation, if that makes sense. Much love, dear friend.

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  4. glad you're moving forward! yeah the shakeup is....what it is, but it doesn't concern you! just lay back in your euphoria and smile! Happy to hear you're taking control of your health, both mentally and physically. It's what you think about yourself that matters most.

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    1. Candice, girl, when you said i would be glad to be out of there, you spoke true! Even with the money worries, the overwhelming feeling I had when i heard about the newest shakeup (other than a vein of anger at the way the corporate behemoth that bought our once-sweet little magazine treats people) was a flood of fresh relief that i no longer have to deal with all that. But you know, the need to make money does not go away...trying not to worry too much. i love you, friend. you are one gift that job gave me.

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  5. Brava! This job thing is totally fucked up, absolutely wrong and infuriating. And then the caretakers nightmare....and then the better news, the bright spot, acknowledging the good progress you are making. Life can be so maddening.
    Hang in.
    love,
    yo

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    1. Sweet Yolie, there is a family that lives in our apartment building, where both husband and wife lost their jobs at the same time, and in the same year their son was going to college. their son has now graduated and they are both somehow making it, having pieced together a new quilt. i think about them, and i think, we can do it too. much love to you and yours.

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  6. I got so focused on one thing I neglected to acknowledge the loss of 30 lbs. that is HUGE and all the other health related progress you made. Congratulations! And bad Sweet Jo

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    1. Dear Jo, thank you! and no bad at all.

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  7. First of all, the numbers sound great! So congrats for that.

    Second, is there a social worker or public agency that might be able to help you find coverage for your aunt's home care? Now that your own financial situation has changed she might be eligible for some sort of assistance or fee restructuring. Just a thought. I know it probably sounds exhausting to pursue. It sounds exhausting to me just typing it. But it might save you some money.

    Finally, while I think women are treated differently from men in many workplaces -- and I have no doubt that many women do get pushed out of their jobs -- a lot of middle-aged men lose their positions too. I think age is a more decisive factor than gender, and the fact that middle-aged workers invariably make more than new hires who could be brought in for much less. But there may still be a prevailing tendency among management -- possibly subconscious, possibly not -- to believe women are not the "breadwinners" and thus can be laid off less painfully than men. I don't know.

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    1. Steve, i know middle aged men also lose their jobs. in fact i read a statistic this morning that said 80 percent of the job losses in the most recent recession were men. i have no idea if that's true or not, but for sure a lot of men lost jobs. i was only talking about the monolithic media company that owns the magazine where i worked. at the top echelons of management in that company, there are only men, and only white men, a real boy's club. just doesn't seem right. as to whether its conscious or subconscious, i think it's both. i think men feel more comfortable with men, that women change the energy in ways they don't invite or appreciate, and so we have this de facto self-pepetuating circumstance, with men in charge hiring their clones or their buddies. yesterday, it made me mad. it wasn't logical. why get mad about a thing you have no power over in the moment? and in the case of my aunt, the call i got was from the agency social worker who was trying to be helpful. again, i was railing at the fates, maybe letting off stream so i could then buckle down and do what i would inevitably have to. the paper work is almost completed today, just doctor's signatures to get. turns out i was more organized in collecting her necessary documents through the course of the year than i had realized! in any case, today has dawned much brighter. thank you for you kindness, Steve, and for your presence here. xo

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  8. I'm sorry for your crash. You are handling so much right now. It is a logical response to feel this way, caught in a storm. I would be pissed about the recertification paperwork too, as if your aunt's financial situation could have magically improved! It is ridiculous and inefficient, and that is just the way the world works. I hope you are finding a way to compartmentalize the worries and not let them drag you down. You are handling so much right now. I remember reading somewhere that we tend to lump all our worries and fears together and that we should try to isolate them and only allow ourselves to choose one problem to ponder at a time. Easier said than done, but I try to break things down into more manageable pieces. Have you ever tried to untangle a bunch of necklaces? If you work on the whole knot it seems to tangle worse, but if you pick one chain and work on it, eventually the knot comes undone. I am hoping for less tangles and good things for you, and soon.

    18 pounds since August? You should do a little dance of joy every morning, that is a huge accomplishment. I'm hoping the pain improves too. Dealing with pain makes dealing with life so much harder. I'm so glad you are taking care of yourself, and so glad you are able to vent here with us. Shared burdens feel lighter, I really believe that.
    xo

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    1. Dear Mel, thank you for the chain analogy. Of course! I did finally settle down yesterday and work on the chain of my aunt's paper work, and it came untangled much more easily than I thought it would, i just had to focus. i think i was just mad on general principle yesterday. maybe the veil between the worlds was thin, as they say about Halloween, and mischief makers were having their way with me. my outlook sure was dark. today i am in a much better place, and the support from you and everyone here is definitely part of that. Thank you, dear friend, for helping to lighten the load. Hugs.

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  9. Dear Angella, thinking of you so often...sending prayers. Such seismic shifts knocking the ground out form under us. They settle. They do settle. And all shall be well...

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    1. Glenn, so nice to see you friend. I believe you. Everything will settle. There are lessons in all of this, aren't there. One, I believe, is faith. Much love.

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  10. So proud (and envious) of your weight loss. Your 30 pounds aren't lost, no no, I am carrying them for you. It's probably what I gained in the last year and a half. Sorry about the worries. That's all I do as well, all. I. do. Makes me very very upset. But we make it through don't we? Hugs!

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    1. Miss A, we do make it through, ups and downs, on the scale and otherwise, we make it through. Don't be upset love. We're on the upswing! Hugs.

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  11. Goodness, I don't think I've read swear words before so I know you're annoyed and worried. So sorry. I'm also v impressed with your health improvements. Good for you.

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    1. Expat mum, i sometimes do swear, like i'm at sea on a big ship in fact. When my little girl was 5 she sat me down and told me i wasn't allowed to swear anymore. that was sobering. but yes, usually only when i am very annoyed. it helps the mood pass. i do not swear when i am arguing with someone, however, as my mother drilled into me that the moment one resorts to such language one has lost the argument, because one has far more effective words in one's arsenal than swear words. so really, it just the occasional expletive to express my frustration over something, to myself. hope your sensibilities weren't offended. :)

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  12. angella, i dont know exactly the world you work in, but it's hard to believe you can't make it as a freelancer. i was terrified when i moved to Maine, but i spread the word to everybody i had ever known or worked with, and it slowly pulled together. my best and longest working relationship has been with a man who is head of a department at a university where the next-door neighbor of someone i did some editing for 12 years ago works! if i can help, you have my e-mail. xo (ps: the health stuff is terrific, and will play out to benefit you in so many ways.)

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    1. susan, i have thought about you a lot, and your transition to freelance when you moved to Maine. you have provided inspiration without knowing it! And thank you for that generous offer of help! Much love to you.

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  13. I came to this late, so I will just say that of course you were outraged, this gender discrimination thing is an outrage, insidious, ever-present. And of course, racism is too. But I do believe in karma, reaping what we sow, and I know you send such beautiful and good energy out into the world, Angella, and I am certain it will come back to you. I know freelancing can be terrifying, but I really believe you will flourish. So let's take some deep breaths together now. Well, it sounds like you already have. You are doing so well. You are doing such a wonderful job.

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