Busy Bee

Back when I was single I would often work multiple jobs to keep food on the table.  I never liked the idea of using State assistance since my getting pregnant was no one’s fault but my own.  Sure, I relied on my mother’s kindness and the generosity of so many people I can’t even begin to name them all, but for some reason taking money from the Government didn’t suit me.  I think it’s because once you start relying on that assistance, it’s hard to move away from it.

When I got married I was given the option of staying at home.  After nearly two years of consistent 60+ hour work weeks at two jobs that paid little more than minimum wage I was absolutely thrilled to be able to stay at home with my daughter and try to be the suburban housewife that I knew I could be.  Growing up we straddled the poverty line, and having a baby so young didn’t help to improve my situation.  Don’t get me wrong, there are young women who have babies at 16 and go on to do amazing things.  I lacked the drive and motivation to do so, though.  The idea of a woman staying home to look after her husband and children seemed a luxurious dream to me, and one that I always kept in the back of my mind as a goal I’d like to achieve.  It wasn’t so much that I wanted to be a stay at home mom as it was that I wanted the freedom to do so.

It didn’t take long after getting married and settling into a routine that I got restless.  I wanted to go out and earn money!  It was a strange feeling not having an income of my own, and it felt very strange to have a bank account that I contributed nothing to yet could spend as though I did.   After some encouragement from my husband and mother-in-law I decided  to get my Real Estate licence.  It sounded so fun!  Getting to meet people, getting to look at pretty houses, getting to wear fancy clothes and hand out business cards.  Having a job that I could proudly tell people about.  “I’m a Realtor” sounds a lot better than “I’m a shift manager and KFC and a regular old employee at a grocery store deli”.  I didn’t expect it to be actual work, or to actually have to find clients.    Not being native to the Houston area I was (am) at a disadvantage.  Having a deacon at church and a mother-in-law who are Realtors also put me at a disadvantage, as everybody I ran into was either through my church or people who have known my mother-in-law longer than they’ve known me.  Ethics plays a huge part in your reputation as a Realtor, and snagging contacts from other Realtors is hugely frowned upon.

So after about a year of not making any money in Real Estate, I decided to go back to school and pursue something I’d actually be good at and find some passion in.  I still have no idea what that might be, but I’m working through my prerequisites before I have to decide what I actually want to do when I grow up.

Kristilyn started high school a month ago, though, which means in four years her education will take priority over mine.  Since we’re paying out of pocket for my classes, I can only take a few classes at a time.  Add that to the cost of having her involved in band and in public school in general, plus our newly adopted 18 year old son (more on that in another post), and Joe’s job situation changing to more steady work at a lower rate of pay, the money situation around here has been a little less comfortable than I think we’d like it to be.  We’d like to be setting money aside for a new house as we need more room, as well as paying down debt so that we can get our credit score up for said house.  Oh, and our one car lifestyle isn’t working anymore so we need another reliable vehicle. Basically, you can never have too much money as a middle class suburbanite.  There’s always something to spend it on.

So I submitted a background check to Uber, which came back with a big thumbs up.  So now I am doing that in my free time.

Let me recap:

I am taking nine credits two days a week at the local community college.

Homework for those nine credits.

I am volunteering with the band boosters, as well as playing taxi for Kristilyn.

Weekly football games to watch the marching band perform.

Keeping up with a house that now holds 2 dogs and 4 people.

Running errands for those 2 dogs and 4 people.

Cooking for those 4 people.

Studying to renew my Real Estate Licence.

Trying to keep up with SOME knowledge of Real Estate.

Trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, even if it’s only seeing friends once a month for coffee or texting more often to keep my relationships up.

Catching Pokemon.

And now driving for Uber.

 

I just got a FitBit which helps me track my sleep, and I average about 5 and a half hours a night, and that is fairly restless sleep.  There’s times I’ve felt overwhelmed lately, but what this ultimately comes down to is that I really don’t like having downtime.  For me, downtime means time to think and time to think means that depression can come in and invade my space.  Even keeping busy depression can get in there, but I find it’s harder to stay away from if I’m sitting around and playing Minecraft all day.  I really enjoy relaxing, don’t get me wrong, but I always feel like there’s something else I could be doing.  Maybe that’s my burden as a woman more than anything, is that I know in the back of my mind that there’s things that only get done if I attend to them (most likely because I’m the only one in the world who cares if that particular thing gets done).

I guess I also always think of what I want people to say at my funeral.  It’s a macabre thought, I know, but I’ve dealt with death my entire life and thus the realization that some day I will be dead has always been in my brain.  I don’t want people to have to rack their memories for days trying to remember what good I’ve done.  I want to be remembered as a good person.  And, more importantly, as a strong person.  Despite my depression and anxiety, my infertility due to PCOS, despite my chronic pain (more on my potential fibromyalgia diagnosis in a different post), despite living in a household with an alcoholic father who ultimately died while I was still young and then being raised by a single mother, despite losing my sister and having a child so young, despite all of my obstacles I want people to say “wow, that chick was tough”.  I believe we all have burdens that we carry and challenges that we deal with, but I really try not to let the ones that I’ve been handed defeat me.  I know I give in too often to my depression and anxiety.  I know that there’s days I’d rather lay about than try to defeat the fatigue that weighs down on me.  And I know I complain all too often.  I am still only human, and I just hope on the days when I am feeling at my best I live to my fullest potential, not wasting a moment.  We live in a culture of victimizing ourselves.  I cannot stand the mentality of playing the victim to garner sympathy.  I’d much rather earn respect than have people pity me.  I try to be self aware in this and not dwell too much on why I should be allowed to be an awful person sometimes.  And if I catch myself talking about any tragedy in my past I wince a little internally.

Now, I have no intention of dying anytime soon.  In fact, I plan to live long enough to be a 120 year old woman who lights a cigarette with my birthday candles and takes a shot of tequila as people sing to me.  I want to grow old enough that I can be blunt and straightforward and not care what people think about me, and come across as endearing rather than abrasive for being that way.  To put it frankly, by the age of 70 I want people to think of me as one bad ass motherfucker.

 

 

At Peace-ish

Last week a dear friend of mine revealed her pregnancy to me, then immediately apologized.  She knew the struggle that Joe and I had been going through, and knew on a personal level how difficult infertility problems could be.  She asked if I was okay, and it dawned on me that I really, really was.

I don’t know when it happened, but sometime in the last year God gave me a peace about potentially not being able to have a baby.  I don’t know if it was in realizing how much work having a teenager can really be, or perhaps it’s realizing that I enjoy travelling and doing so as often as we have been wouldn’t be possible for a couple of years if we had a baby, or maybe it’s that I finally started the path towards my lifelong dream of a graduate degree a few months ago.  Whatever it was God has shown me that maybe now is not the time I need to be working on adding to my family, but instead I need to work on strengthening myself and my bond with the family I already have.

It’s been wonderful not taking my temperature every single day, not looking at the calendar ALL OF THE TIME, not spending a small fortune on pregnancy tests, not having to plan romantic time around certain days of the month (especially when you’re not even sure what those days are of if an egg will drop that month or not).  I have enjoyed not seeing my doctor more than I see many of my friends.  Mostly, I have enjoyed not dealing with the crippling depression that comes along with infertility struggles.

I even made a post on Facebook about how wonderfully at peace I’ve been.

And then yesterday at church a baby smiled at me.

I have never been a fan of roller coasters, yet now I’m on the biggest one ever constructed.  It’s called the Emotioncoaster and it is about to have a pretty severe drop.  Let’s just hope that I can hold on until it goes back up.

Back to School

Going back to college at the age of 33 isn’t recommended by anybody, professional or otherwise.  Something happens to your brain after you turn 30 and retaining information isn’t as easy to do as it was when you were twenty and your mind was still fresh from high school and easily mold-able.

Recently I started to look for a part time job that I might enjoy but I kept running into a road block.  Most jobs that aren’t minimum wage in pay grade require some form of degree or experience in that field.  Thus far I have spent my life in those base-level jobs.  At 33 years old it’s expected that you can do more than slice deli meat or operate a cash register.  And while I’m a fairly quick study at most things I do, I don’t look very good on paper.  Every job I’ve had since I was 16 and started working have been jobs that most people do while they’re waiting to do something else.

So I decided that now was the time to actually work on a degree and mean it.  I’m not encumbered by a full time job as I was so many years ago when I attempted college the first time.  Math has always been my Achilles heel academically.  It’s not that I’m bad at it so much as I have trouble retaining information that I deem unuseful or unnecessary.   Algebra has always fallen into that category for me.

As it turns out I’m not half bad at mouth.  As usual whenever I’m put into a classroom setting (be it for various work classes or college or anything in between) I have found that I’m a lot smarter than I think I am.  Your brain, like anything else, loses some functionality if you don’t use it.  Now that I’m using it more, I find that it works better.  For the most part, anyway.

I’ve spent my entire adult life until now waiting on my life to start, or for the rapture to happen, or something.  I’m not really sure why.  I’ve just procrastinated doing what most people do early into adulthood for one reason or another.  Realizing that you’re only employable for minimum wage or slightly above at 33 years old is a real eye opener.

I’ve always felt that I was meant to do something incredible, so maybe I’ve just been waiting on that something incredible to present itself to me.  Apparently that’s not how life works.

Overall I still don’t know what I want to do with my life.  Well, except have lunch with Adele and Jenny Lawson and Allie Brosh in Ireland in a castle overlooking the Shannon River while Oprah reads some Harry Potter to us and JK Rowling busily writes my life story from the other room.  I’m not sure if knowing what you want to do helps you find your path any faster, or if I really am taking the long way around.  Either way, I’m going to enjoy the journey and stop delaying what I can go ahead and get done and out of the way.

Seriously, though, if anyone could hook me up with any or all of those women I’d be forever indebted to you.

Anxiety Forever

Having anxiety is a lot like running a race that you know you’ll never win.  You start out optimistic, thinking that you know which hurdles you’ll need to jump but soon realize that no part of the race is predictable or fair, and you end up feeling like a failure each and every leg of the race.  Except, unlike a race, anxiety never ends.  Ever.  Like, never ever.

I realized today, after dropping my daughter off at school, that anxiety is a sneaky little thing that can strike at any time.  I was driving by a pawn shop and got that old familiar stab of tightness in my chest for no real reason.  I once had things in a storage unit that ended up being auctioned off, so my thought process might have jumped from that to the idea that people who bought my old stuff might have pawned it off.  But really, what the hell, Shannon?

Not being able to control when or where my panic attacks (large or small) will pop up is aggravating, but even more so is the constant underlying feeling that something is wrong and I need to worry about it.  All the time.  Constantly.  Most people get to take vacations away from the stresses of life, but for people like me the stress IS life.  There is no escape.

Vacation can often times be even worse, actually.  When you add in unfamiliar surroundings to a mind that’s already at war with itself, it’s like a bomb waiting to go off.  A bomb of hyperventilating and freaking out over nothing.  Literally.  Absolutely nothing.

I envy those that don’t have to constantly battle with themselves.  Do you know how exhausting it is to have to constantly sort out rational and irrational thought?  And how exhausting it is to really have to try and see the difference?  It’s terrible.  Those commercials for medications that deal with depression and talk about  “getting back to your old self” are bullshit.  If you live with anxiety or depression, you don’t know how else to be.

I would love to be the person I think I am.  Witty, intelligent, interesting, put together, organized, energetic, etc.  Instead I am only two of those things and only because I have to make up for the mess inside of my brain.  The best thing that can happen for somebody with anxiety (and ultimately depression since the two are like siamese twins that the devil designed) is to realize that while it’s always going to be there, but you can make it better.  Create coping mechanisms and don’t allow yourself to be a victim.  Just because you HAVE anxiety, doesn’t mean that anxiety HAS you.  Don’t let it.

Some days are bad.  Some days are not.  Relish the good days but allow yourself a few bad days.  Reward yourself for the small victories (I left the house today, woohoo!  Time for 12 hours of the Sims to celebrate), but don’t punish yourself for the failures (I couldn’t leave the house today, but it’s okay because I am still valuable and important).