I am definitely someone who needs to have a job. If I am depressed I really am not good at home alone; I tend to self harm. On the occasional days I really can’t work I will hang out in my husband’s office for a while or go to a coffee shop and hopefully get an extra session with my therapist. This happened last week because it was the anniversary of my son’s suicide. I had had two weeks of balancing my sleep, work, emotions and grieving. And my abuse issues had taken a back seat. But then I had a series of abuse nightmares and my emotions went into overwhelm. So for a couple of days I gave myself some time off work. I am lucky, I work in a small office in a synagogue. The people I work with care about me and know that I will get my work done. My insurance is through my husband’s job, so if I ever had to quit I would still have insurance. But as I said, I need to work for my own safety. But it’s much more than that. I get tremendous satisfaction in being creative, in completing projects, in being depended on. I also find that a little bit of good work-stress keeps my creative juices running, so I am more able to work on my writing. Again the balance thing. I have to make sure I don’t stay up too late writing, so one thing I do is that if I work hard during the morning I treat myself with a creative writing break at lunch.
I think everybody has to find the right, healthy balance between doing too little and doing too much. It is important to be completely honest with ourselves about your needs and our vulnerabilities. It is also important to know that there are other jobs, other opportunities out there. I left teaching after 27 years, thinking I could do nothing else. But I talked myself into applying for an administrative assistant job. They told me I was overqualified; I felt under-skilled. But I took the risk. The worst that could happen, I told myself, was that I would have to look for another job in a few months.
I taught myself what I needed as I went along and it has worked out fine. If you are willing to learn and put in a little extra time as you train, any intelligent adult can make a job change. Sometimes the barriers to change exist only in our minds. I admit, though, I did have to take a significant pay cut. Apparently other professionals can make less than teachers. Who knew!
So working works for me; it makes me feel good about myself. As we all know, therapy has cycles of intensity, and, for me, work is steadying. Every week is pretty much the same and that is tremendously comforting. External normalcy while the internal chaos reigns. I am glad I can make work work! At least for now.