Thursday, October 11, 2012

What Do I Stand For?

I was sitting with my (former) roommate Mike last night, having drinks, and lamenting my current existential crisis. I knew that I had to figure out my direction in life, what it's all for, before I dove back into work again... because once work hits, I won't have time or energy to even ask these questions to myself. It will be work and managing my health to work, and what's this all for again?! I needed to figure out now, during this break in my contract, what I stand for and what I want out of life. I needed some guiding star, otherwise, what's the point? So Mike told me the story of two women stuck by tragedy...

Both had lost their children to violence: one to a gang shooting, and the other to a hate crime. Both women were obviously devastated by their loss. Neither he nor I could imagine the pain that either of these women suffered. And one woman, justifiably so, was left broken and shattered by the experience. She hasn't recovered yet, and no one blames her, because of her experience. But the other woman used her grief to fuel a not profit organization that turned into the NOH8 (No Hate) campaign. She took her pain and turned it into something amazing for others.

It's not difficult for me to answer the question in that song: "What do I stand for?" That's easy. I stand for the rights of the disenfranchised---those struck by chronic invisible illness, who are disabled by their disease, who can't advocate for themselves because they are too busy trying to manage their own illness, and the havoc it brings. I want to shine a light in the darkness to say, "Hang in there... You don't have to walk this alone. I know what you're going through, I've been there myself. Whatever you're going through---no matter how helpless and hopeless you feel---you still have value to me. You're amazing for what you're trying to survive. Give yourself props!"

What I don't know how to do is work towards that goal and work at the same time. I know what I need to do to get my message out there, but that takes a lot of work... work that doesn't pay. So I need to find a way that I can work for what I stand for, and still keep a roof over my head and medication in my system. THAT is what is totally daunting to me. Trying to figure out how to survive in the meantime... oh, that's big.

But I do have something to stand for, and it's about time I got back to it. I'm not like other people, walking around, wondering what their life is about. I know very much what my life is about. I know very much my purpose. Most people aren't that lucky. I found out that my best friend from college died day before yesterday, and it shook me. He was only a few years older than me. We never know how much time we have on this planet. Time for me to stand up.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reflections on My Trial Work Period

There are three main things I learned with my trial work period: 1) I cannot work 9-5. I cannot be that strict. My body is to fragile and demanding (especially at inconvenient times). 2) The computer industry mostly doesn't care if you can't work 9-5, as long as you can get your work done. My job isn't shift-work. It's project-based work. 9-5 isn't even a realistic business model for my job. 3) I've still got what it takes to do a great job. The love my work. They want me to come back. They're trying to figure out how to bring me back even now, just a few days a week. But I'm torn.

My main concern is that I'm still very fragile. If I work, the rest of the time has to be spent managing symptoms and spoons. Yes, I can do it, but that's all that I'm able to do. I'm 100% work oriented, and that will make you go nuts really, really fast. We have to be able to "take off the uniform" and "leave work at work." But I don't have time for that. I have to sleep enough to have the energy I need to work. That means everything, including taking care of the house, doesn't happen until the weekends. There's not much time left over for rest and relaxation. I'm lucky that my brother is living here and taking care of most of the chores. I'm sure this place would be a wreck otherwise. I'm not sure I can survive full-time work yet.

I could try to work part-time, but then comes the issue of money. Can I afford my medical care, rent, food, medication, and all that, if I'm only working part time? What are my monthly expenditures, and can I afford only part-time work? The last time I did the math, it didn't add up well. Either I work full time and I'm just barely able to make ends meet (not accounting for debt), or I stay on welfare. There's no in-between. I'd lose my benefits and not make enough money to cover the short-fall.

Then there's everyone here, and everyone that I've helped through the years. If I do go back to work, it would mean I wouldn't have time for you or this. And I love doing this. I love shining a light in the darkness and letting people know: "Hey---you're not alone. Hang in there. Make this look awesome!" I don't want to abandon everyone, and I would have to, if I went back to full-time work.

I have much to think about... your thoughts are welcomed.