I’m nothing if not predictable. One good thing about aging is that you begin to recognize patterns in your behavior and can see when things are about to go south before the actually do. At least, you hope that you’ve learned enough from your past to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the present or the future. So I guess it’s with this amazing worldly insight that I can see that I’m heading down a dangerously familiar path that usually ends up with me in the fetal position, shell-shocked and ill-equipped to deal with the world around me.
For all that I’ve learned in my life (and trust me when I say that I’ve lived through enough trauma and heartache to have 5 people’s worth of “life experience”), I have yet to figure out how to balance everything. And actually, if we’re being brutally honest, I’ve not figured out how to balance more than one or two things at a time. I pretty much suck at balance, period.
Recently I started a new job. I’ve always been a career person. My job, even though it sounds terrible, has always defined me. When others discuss their hobbies or extracurricular activities at parties, I discuss the latest work project that I’m engulfed in. Work is something that, when all else sucks in my life, I can show up to and kick ass. I love work. I love the energy it gives me. I love to make people’s day. I love customer service and problem solving and exceeding expectations. It feels good in a way that probably shouldn’t be legal. If work was a drug, I could confess to being a full blown addict.
Up until now, I’ve had amazing jobs that paid peanuts but had titles that knocked people’s socks off. Vice President of Education & Marketing. Director of Marketing. Prime Minister of East Meets West. But at the end of the day, the reality is that I worked very very hard to make other people rich… while at the same time, I scraped together every penny that I had just to keep the lights on and clothes on my child’s back. Never mind that I haven’t purchased new shoes in eons. Or that I’m wearing the same ratty coat that I’ve had for 3 seasons now.
All of that changed about 6 months ago when Big Deal Company A came knocking on my door. They recruited me for months. I turned them down. They came back. I said no. They offered me big big incentives ($$$)… and I said yes. I began my new job during the heart of the holidays and quickly realized that they don’t offer you the big bucks without a STEEP learning curve. For the first time in my life, I’m actually being paid what I’m worth, but getting to the point where I’m feeling competent at what I do… when does that day arrive?!?
So back to balance, or my lack there of. When I get home from work, I want to lose myself in brainless activity because my mind can’t function any longer. I’ve pushed it to its limits. I’ve demanded more from my brain that anyone has asked of it EVER and, at the end of the day, it shuts off. That doesn’t make me a good parent or partner or housekeeper or cook or planner or bill payer or pet owner or blogger or tarot reader or friend or daughter. I am a champion at work (or at least try really hard to be one!) but when I get home, I’ve got nothing. This begs the question: have I met my limit? Have I reached the glass ceiling that I can’t break through? Have I hit that place where I can no longer reasonably expect to be able to handle it all? The problem with all of these questions is that I’m not willing to accept an answer that even remotely hints at failure. I refuse to believe that I can’t have or do it all. And do it well.
The big elephant in the room that this whole dialogue in my head is taking place in (sorry English teachers for that terribly formed sentence), is the fact that I have fibromyalgia and my energy levels and health are directly tied to my stress levels. Increased stress = fatigue, sickness and pain. It’s telling that I waited until nearly the end of this post to even mention the fact that I have this illness that is actively working against my success and drive. So I’m left to ask myself, “Am I not meant to be a career woman? Am I not meant to take over the world? Am I destined for a more simple life?” I’m completely not willing to entertain those thoughts. But then how does a mom/wife/kick ass career woman balance it all (and keep climbing the corporate ladder) while living with a disease that continually knocks me to the ground? I don’t know.