Peeling Away the Layers

I have a very big decision to make.  And actually, I think I already know the answer.  As Kelly Diels so aptly put it, sometimes saying yes means saying no.  But it’s making me feel constricted in my chest, terror in my back, and, well, a little sick to my stomach.

I think all of those things are telling me it’s the right thing to do.

I have a job that I’m good at.  When I am in the cycle of working there, I get caught up in the validation I get from working there and being good at my job.  I get caught up in the excitement of the people I work with.  I honestly do love the company (mostly), and think that they have a really excellent product on the market, made so by the customer service that delivers it.  I am fabulous at delivering that customer service.

I am loyal.  I am and have always been loyal to whomever I work for.  Even when it has been seriously misplaced loyalty (because it was not reciprocated or recognized.)  Unfortunately, I tend to lose sight of being loyal to myself.  I tend to continue to want the validation that comes from a job really well done, and lose sight of the things that are actually priorities to me, for me.  First and foremost, I need to be loyal to myself and those three short people that keep following me around, asking to be fed…

The job I have has fantastic benefits.  Yes, good healthcare benefits (although, they kinda screwed me when it came to being sick this summer.)  But the other perks that come with my job are outstanding.  They benefit a lot of people around me.  The thing that I am coming to realize is that they don’t benefit me a great deal, because I never have the time+money combo to be able to use them.  And what I’m trying to put into perspective is the concept of I need to take care of myself first, in order to be able to take care of anyone else. So making sure that I continue working at a job that, in some ways, is not necessarily in my best interest, in order to provide great perks for other people…well, maybe it’s not actually what’s best for me.

Left turn.

I have recently looked very hard at an important relationship in my life.  It is a relationship that for years has caused me anguish and discontent, searching for validation where there was little, approval where it was rare, and presence where it was absent.  I have decided that, although the relationship will continue in some necessary form, I am consciously changing the parameters that I go by in that situation.  I will no longer engage.  I will no longer have any expectations.  I will let go of resentment and choose to see it as a learning opportunity.  I will feel love for the lesson: I can choose what I do and don’t contribute, and I choose to no longer give myself away when I get nothing in return.  I choose to take care of myself by not engaging emotionally.  Of course there will still be communication, but all I am willing to have is surface conversation.  I will not engage emotionally.  It is unfortunate that the other party will probably not even notice the difference.  But it’s really not about that.  That’s their piece, and I have come to terms with the fact that I can’t make them want something that is not in their vocabulary. It’s about taking care of myself and being conscious of my boundaries.  Choosing not to engage emotionally frees me up to enforce my own boundaries, because I am no longer tangled up in needing approval and validation where there is none forthcoming anyway.  And being able to enforce my boundaries without guilt is the best way to take care of myself, and it is long overdue.

Aaaaand, back to the main road.  (See, it’s all connected.)

The thing is, when I look at my work situation, it is the same thing in a different package.  I get caught up in the validation I get from working at a job that is not what I really want to be doing.  (Yes, I do get validation from work, and do not from the relationship in question.  But bear with me here.  The end result is the same.)  In doing so, I lose sight of what matters to me.  I have tried before to just go to work, and not engage – not commit myself.  But I find it very difficult.  I’m kind of an all in or all out person.  And we spend a significant portion of our lives working…I don’t want to be working at something that I don’t actually want to commit to.  That just seems ass-backwards to me.  And it is so not in line with the life I want to create – in which I feel an overwhelming passion, gratitude, and joy for ALL the parts of my life.  But that life is going to take some big changes to create.  Big, scary changes.  Big, scary, leaping off the bridge and trusting in the intangible kind of changes.  But there is no question, it’s time to realign.  (Jonathan Mead has a great take on realignment and motivation vs. inspiration, which all relates to my the point I’m making here.)

Where it gets tricky is finances.  And I’m sure this is the big hurdle for everyone in a similar position.  It is terrifying to consider giving up a job where I finally make pretty decent money, actually, for my qualifications on paper.  (I am qualified in a multitude of ways, for a multitude of things.  Unfortunately – or maybe ultimately fortunately – they don’t really transfer to paper.  I have lots of almost-but-not-quite-completed schooling, and a shit-load of soft skills to go with.)  It is terrifying to jump off that bridge, three kids in tow, with no safety net.  But if I dissect it a little more, is it really?  I haven’t been able to work at that job for 4 months now, because of my health.  Truth be told, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do so again – my body is just not cooperating.  And, unfortunately, living with chronic pain is not something that is quantifiable to those who don’t deal with it, and inspires disbelief in some.  But here’s the thing: they’ve denied my disability claim anyway, so there’s not really any financial goings on, regardless.  There is only the sort of phantom promise of a job to eventually return to, and the ever-important benefits in the meantime.  I am currently very dependent on the government for medical disability.  Yes I want that to change.  However, I have to be able to function before that will actually happen.  SO…what, exactly, is this “security” that I am considering walking away from?  Not much.  Just kind of a mental security – not really one that manifests physically.

I also feel like being on hold with this company keeps me from living fully in my truth.  And that, under no circumstances, is healthy.  I’m constantly afraid of doing or saying something that could be misinterpreted by somebody (on Facebook or Twitter, say), that would lead them to the assumption that I’m just taking them for a ride.  I’m sure it has lots to do with feeling like I have to justify stuff because many people don’t understand chronic pain well, or simply disbelieve it.  It is a very bizarre thing to feel like I constantly have to prove that I’m really as sick/incapacitated as I say I am.  I can’t imagine that it sets the stage for healing, because my mindset is always focused on proving the negative.  Believe me, I see how twisted and unhealthy it is.  And I think the first step to changing it is to divest myself of the situations in my life that keep me in that framework.  Work is one.  Personal relationships that are not supportive are another.  I have to set myself up for achieving success, which specifically means not feeling like I have to prove my failures.

So what if I take the leap?  What if I jump off that “security bridge” and make my own qualifications for bliss?  What if I create work for myself that I can manage around the particulars of my body?  What if I trust that I’m finding my truth and own my shimmering path, and that the pieces will fall into place, including the income I need?  Nobody ever got rich working on somebody else’s terms…or something like that, right?  I don’t even need “rich.”  I need “enough.”  Karol Gajda talks about finding your sweet spot – that place where you have enough for what you need, and the immense freedom that comes from accessing that place.  No massive mansions in the hills, no Porsches required, not for me.  I need a comfortable house, a reliable car for me and my family, the ability to pay my bills with ease, some savings, and the income to do what we want, when we want to.  It doesn’t need to be exorbitant.  It needs to be enough.  But that requires some hard internal questioning.  What exactly is enough?  What exactly is necessary in your life, and what is excess?  You can’t ever have enough if you haven’t identified exactly what enough is in your life.  As in, to the dollar.  Only then can we start mapping out how we will actually get to that illusive sweet spot: enough.

And so that is the process for today.  What is enough?  And how will I get there?  Because it is not going to be working at 5am every day.  That doesn’t work for me and my family.  I need to be home to get my girls off to school in the morning, and here to be with them for all their after school stuff.  Every single day?  No.  But almost every day?  Yes.  That’s what’s important to me.  That’s what’s important to them.  As in, big capital letters kind of IMPORTANT.  That’s what fosters the relationship I treasure with my kids.  And it is time I started creating a life around what is important to us, instead of cobbling together a make-do of what’s important based on the life we have.  The whole “take it where I can get it” mentality.  Nope.  I’ll take it where I can make it, thanks.

Afterthought: I was going through some of my original songs this afternoon, and I came across one that I’d totally forgotten about.  I wrote it about three years ago.  Imagine that…it is exactly what I’m talking about here.  Clearly this is an ongoing process, coming into one’s self.  I thought I’d share the lyrics with you.

There’s a little piece of gold

In the silence that I hold

It’s the still small voice inside

Crying out to me to come alive

And I feel jaded

I feel wasted

I feel broken inside

But it’s the last moment

The last solace

‘Cuz I’m pushing through the tunnel for the light

Every moment holds a choice

To ante up or quiet my own voice

And in the choice there lies a gift

It’s the sacred space where we choose to persist

And I feel jaded

I feel naked

I feel broken inside

But it’s the last moment

The last solace

As I’m pushing through the tunnel for the light

(Breathe in, breathe out

Breathe in, breathe out

Breathe in, breathe out

Breathe in, breathe out)

I am holy

I am divine

And everything I could ever want

It’s already mine

There’s opportunity in loss

An elemental truth underneath that rock

And I feel jaded

I feel naked

I feel broken inside

But it’s the last moment

The last solace

‘Cuz I’m pushing through

And I feel jaded (I am holy)

I feel naked

I feel broken inside (I am divine)

But it’s the last moment

The last solace (I am holy)

‘Cuz I’m pushing through the tunnel for the light

PS – I’m gonna keep delving into the messy stuff, but in a fun way, wherever possible.  I love hearing your comments.  And I’d love it if you wanted to share something from here that you found worth sharing.  There are lots of pretty buttons for that.  After all, the more of us there are, the more united a voice we can create.  Peace and love.  XO

4 Responses to “Peeling Away the Layers”

  1. October 28, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Wow, Sara. Keep with this shift in approach. The mindset is everything. Really . I know you’ll be able to make it happen, if you stay with the truth of what your spirit calls! ~Much love

  2. October 28, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Hi Sara,

    I’d like to introduce myself since I’m a 42 year old mother of my very own Sarah that’s 13. I find twitter and all these social networks kinda creepy and cold. I followed you on twitter simply because you are the sister of a band member that we are hooked on for over a year. Sad but true. Not sad because I find your insight very interesting.

    To your latest blog. My husband has suffered with a chronic back pain for over the past 10 years!! He fell at work and went on disability for quite awhile until the government cracked down on back associated claims and he was cut!! He had to work in pain and no one really understood the chronic pain of the body. I’m glad to say he is better and is more able to work but that has taken over 10 years!! The body needs the time to heal itself and the mind too. I believe everything is connected.

    I understand your situation at work. I have a coworker that has a chronic pain in the arm and no one believes her and the company seems to be sympathetic but yet they are just going through the motions and she feels like the perception of her has changed and if she says she’s in pain they do not believe her. She has been off work for some time now.

    I say, as a mother and new friend, you must take care of yourself first. If you don’t you are no good to anyone else. You have children that grow fast and life is passing us by. I understand how you feel with work as I am always conflicted with job satisfaction and my pay. I feel I am only working because it’s something stable and stable in my life. I am in no position to leave my work and as of now I’m the sole provider to my family. My husband cannot hold down a full time stable job in the computer field ever since the recession.

    I was talking with a friend and we agreed the cost of living sucks! We live to pay off our mortgage. We do not live to live. We came to the conclusion that in Nova Scotia the cost of living and housing is cheap but you need to have an income. My friend is on disability and she said she would be able to survive out there. I’m to settled in Toronto right now and my whole family is here. Toronto has grown in the past 15 years and it’s to the point it’s not as nice anymore. The traffic is horrendous and the cost of living is bad. How is it in Vancouver?

    My girlfriend owns an architecture company and she said Vancouver is not very steady in employment also. She goes to Jamaica to design homes for the wealthy. I wish I was her.

    I hope my babbling has given you any help. There are many of us in the same situation. How does that saying go?…
    If life throws you lemons…find someone with a paper cut..haha
    sorry had to say that…make a damn big pitcher of lemonaide!!!!!

    Your friend,
    Rana Ariza-Verreault

  3. 3 Leslie
    October 29, 2010 at 5:45 am

    Hello Sara,I have been following you for a while and I am always inspired by your posts.It seems as though your heart knows what the right decision for you already is,but your brain is trying to keep your choices logical and responsible for the sake of your children? Yes,the moneyis important, but not at the cost of your phsyical or mental health.I too am a Mom and we always want what is best for them. Your girls won”t be little forever and I agree that what’s most important right now, is to be there for them before and after school.If your emloyer is not willing to work with you,when you have obviously given them ALL that you are, then itis defintely time to move on.Your girls will respect you for being a strong,independent woman,who is not a slave to the system of repeated self abuse, justforthe “validation”.Are your employers the people you want validation from in the long run? Is the validation a cycle of familiarity? Especiallyif they refuse to recognize that you truly ARE in constant pain.Ifeelthe validation you will get from knowing you are doing what you need to do now,to take care of yourself,CAN and will be enough.Life is short and our brains are powerful tools. My Therapist (who is a Buddhist)has taught me, “We should not to allow ourselves to predict negative outcomes for our future, because that is what our brains will evolve into believing to be the truth each time. Especially if it is uncharted territory for us and out of our realm of comfort. (something I am currently working on myself).I wish you ALL the best, I will be thinking of you, as I too am making some difficult choices and learning to have faith in myself when no one else seems to. *hugs*

  4. October 30, 2010 at 2:16 am

    Thanks for all the support. I’m feeling the love. I’m also feeling the (my own) fear…but I’m feeling it and diving in anyway. I think this is all going to be sorted one way or another in the next couple of days, and I’ll update when it is. Thanks again. Peace and love. xo

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