“You got an offer…”
Oh, how overjoyed I was when I heard those words! I had been waiting for months for this change in my life – to go from a government-dependent non-working blob to someone I could look at in the mirror and say, “I’m doing something and FEEL I am doing something productive again. I am whole.”
Then, the hype died down and the reality hit and it hit hard. The “government dependent” label had to be dealt with. You see, I was on so much assistance from so many different places, now, I had to not just cut “red tape” I had to break, literally, a cocoon of protections. I was nice, cozy and sheltered from the world, much like a caterpillar would be as they were developing into a butterfly. In my case, I was healing – and, admittedly hiding. I didn’t want to come out for fear of facing pain, fear and so many other things. But then this last round of paperwork finally pushed me over the edge to being sick and tired of this shit. I didn’t want to be dependent any longer. I wanted out. I wanted “me” back. I was never the type to be dependent. Ever. I knew what I wanted. I said what was on my mind and I always had an opinion. I was never afraid to speak out.
I had changed radically. I was hiding out of fear, complete terror. I was not myself and I needed to reclaim myself back. I was completely alone in my cocoon. Isolated, safe, solitary and, yes, lonely. But I was safe. Safe from, well, life. My mind was so skewed in such a way that everyone and everything would cause pain. Now? I was ready to take that chance. I wanted to be free to be myself again. I wanted to work, to be productive and to be independent. I wanted to love and to be loved again, not stuck in this cocoon in solitary confinement. And so, I began the process of redefining myself.
During that redefinition process, I rediscovered that I had love to give to others through laughter, smiles and a heart that was warm and caring. These things I had kept hidden from others. But what I discovered most of all was a love of self that I never knew before. I had to adjust to the fact that I was without my children, all grown. I was not a doting mother any longer. I was a woman who’s been through a great deal but was ready to change, to grow and to move forward. Yes, even to love again.
What I didn’t realize? With the words, “You got an offer;” words I heard a day or so ago, my life would turn upside down in ways I never imagined. My life has changed radically already and I have not set foot inside my new place of employment. I’m terrified, yes. I have no idea of what my future holds. But then there’s this:
And toss on this one for good measure…
The first set, to get out of that cocoon. The second one? That has to come in as if I was never leaving at all. It’s insane. And that one is not just one page – it’s six. It’s not unemployment. Unemployment is online. That’s easy. This is handwritten. “Low tech.” New acronyms are now part of your vocabulary: SNAP, GA, GRH, SSI, SDI, MA, Section 8, Section 801 and the list goes on. But now?
It’s all going away….gradually.
I can get all of the “congratulations” and the “we’re so proud of you” and the “you’re such an inspiration” comments but in the end, I’m alone. I’m the one who must deal with this paper heap I’d rather send it all through the nearest shredder. My name is on those documents so it’s my ass that’s on the line. Sure, I can get help with this but in the end, it’s all up to me. Deadlines must be met. Documents to support what I declare must come from me. It’s what must be done. Then I sign to say, as the late President Richard Nixon infamously said at the height of the Watergate scandal….
Ok, so it’s a bit longer than that here but you get the idea….
Now, what happens? Where do I go from here? I had plans for next week and next month – what do I do? And then there was surgery. What do I do there? My medical appointments, what about that? The things spinning in my mind are endless. But at the same time, I have to force myself to take deep breaths and focus on the here and now. I have to handle things when they come, not before. I have to ask for help from the supports I do have in place: Vocational Rehabilitation is the biggest one. They’re now the “heroes in the white hats” who are now my saviors of mercy. Then comes….finances. How do I learn to live again? Independent Living supports are now coming into place, an “IL worker.” A new cast of characters all there to ensure I can handle life outside of the cocoon.
It’s tough to take this all in. Still.
Then there’s….a secret I’ve been carrying. Love has re-entered my existence and like it has been for many, it’s over the internet. It’s for a good reason: He’s in the service. I can’t say more than that because he’s in combat in a high-risk area. But we talk constantly, or as much as possible. We did have a bump where he was gone for a few days – he was hit by enemy fire and couldn’t communicate out (verified by CNN). He’s been my biggest cheerleader and now, he’s learning ALL of what’s been behind this. He’s been seeing my panicked texts, which aren’t like me at all and oh, was he worried! I have been learning a great deal there, as well. It’s forced me to return to my Higher Power and I mean forced. When I didn’t hear from him during that “bump,” I was terrified. I had nowhere else to go.
I’ve stayed with my Higher Power – it’s kept me grounded. Both this man and my Higher power have brought me back to where….I’m now starting to dream of a better future and not just “I want to get married,” but a future where I am believing that somehow, someway, my kids might want to return to have a relationship as adults. I may have let them go, but at the same time, I will always want them to come back and for me to leave the door open. The bottom line, this man has reminded me that I can’t do it all. I must rely upon that force greater than me; especially in regards to his welfare and safety. But I have also learned something else: I must have a life that’s independent of his because of where he is and of what he is doing. If anything should happen to him or if things don’t work out in some other way, I must have my own support system and life established. Must.
Again, it’s a solitary journey on that path to learning about myself and recreating myself and my life.
As I was struggling with the “what do I do?” questions, there was an echo of my past who came back – for a matter of moments. I knew him in middle school and oh, was he a prankster! But inside was a huge heart filled with love for everyone. He knew that people were to be treated with respect and demanded to be. He didn’t care what color you were or where you were from. People were people – period. He always teased me a great deal; we met in choir in middle school; he was in the baritone section. I was an alto. Always teasing me. He never stopped. Then came the time we performed at Disneyland. I stumbled onto the risers during our performance and nearly fell into the band behind the risers. And guess who was coming up behind me to catch me? That’s right, him.
But once we got back? Did I pay for that one! “The principal got photos of that! He’s going to show them to the entire school.”
I fell for it all. I ran to the principal and I could see him try so hard not to laugh. God, I felt like an idiot.
Then came high school where we bumped into each other….then college. That’s when things changed – dramatically. In looking back on things, I believe both he and I fell in love. He walked me to and from class, he was kind, considerate and we dated. It was obvious. He wanted to make a move; I wanted him to make a move. I think he wanted me to signal it was ok to do so or to make moves myself in return. And, I didn’t. It was ugly; the advances stopped, everything stopped. I was in pain, deep pain. I find out years later, so was he.
A few years later, he appears on my doorstep, after both he and I graduated from college. We spent some time together – miniature golfing. He thanked me for that time. Then…nothing.
I called him to announce I was dating the man who would become my husband; he told me to not take things too fast. I didn’t listen – I was married within the year.
Ten years later, I received an email from him. He finally came out and said he was thinking of me and wanted to know if I remembered HIM. I jumped at that email as I was in the midst of a divorce. Then the phone calls started – I was in the Midwest and he, in California. I actually moved back to my home state.
Then, upon my arrival in California, he announces to me that he’s dating someone seriously and our friendship/relationship has to end. I was destroyed, needless to say. It was a drastic move so it was serious.
For those years, we kept bumping into each other; randomly, usually when one of us was in our “solitary” period and wanted an old friend around.
I bumped into him again just yesterday. Unfortunately, it was for the final time. You see, we never did resolve our differences, although I tried to send a letter to make amends. He had a dream of going from corporate America back to our home town. He made it happen. I saw his Facebook page but nothing was happening. I found out why when his older brother, who I am linked with, was posting something humorous about this guy. Then comes the first comment indicating that they had just heard about his younger brother’s death….
Death. The Great Equalizer. As solitary an experience as can be. Cold, dark, lonely for many but for most, the final rest in peace.
For me, it was shocking. No more chances to rectify errors. This was the final “periodic brush” through time. I had my answers as to what happened to him; he made it back to our hometown but never married, never had a family of his own. How it happened, I could try to find out but, what is the point? He’s gone. I feel deep regret and pain over the mistakes of the past and never get a resolution over them. Yet at the same time, I feel honored at having known him. I realize that life is so precious and that each moment of each and every day can never be taken for granted.
Which brings me back to what’s happening to me right NOW. For what stresses I’m going through, I have another chance, another opportunity at a new life; one that I can create from scratch with the help of my higher power. I only live once and I must make the most of the moments I have.