I survived my first 40 hour work week in over two years! Most of what got me through the tough times was the though that starting next week I would start my "regular schedule" of part time hours. At least, that WAS what kept me going until Thursday afternoon when the owner asked me if I wanted to go ahead and work full time for the foreseeable future. Apparently I am doing good work and the project I was given to start will take me more than just a week. So, I told the manager, "Sure! I'd live to work full time!"
Then he walked away and I realized what just came out of my mouth. Crap. What did I get myself into?!?!
My #2 sister, Pookie, is the manager of a small print store front about 20 minutes away from my house. She and I have been talking about how she would need someone to help her part time, once there was enough business to warrant it and that wouldn't happen until at least September. There would be two weeks of training at the larger, busier HQ which is roughly 20 minutes further away then I would be working out of her store. The pay wouldn't be great, but that is fine. Pookie even assured me that she would be totally understanding about time off when I had a headache or a bad day. I had begun to start looking forward to the end of the Summer when I could start slowly back into real life again.
I was PREPARED for part time work starting sometime in the Fall, after school started again. Remember, I had this whole plan made for outings and fun activities to keep my kids happy and occupied all Summer? I even told my nephews and nieces that they could join in the fun, too. When I found that this position was available now instead of two or three months from now, I decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Besides, I could still do fun stuff with the kids by working mornings and being home in the afternoons and evening. Working full time kinda puts all that in the trash. Now what?
I'm certainly NOT complaining, though! I have been out of work for too long to look this gift horse in the mouth. Looking around me, I know that there are so many people who need jobs, I can't be anything but thankful that this has come along. Sure, the timing was not what I was planning on, but I have to remember that I can't always have what I want WHEN I want it. Turning any job down would be foolish. I just need to figure out how to re-juggle things. It is going to be an adventure for me, even if it will slightly less exciting for the kiddos.
The job I am doing is actually sort of cool, in a tailor-made-for-me kind of way. To start off, the filing for the business needs a lot of maintenance. Nothing has been archived for the last six years and I don't think anything has even been put in the file cabinet for at least two. I love tackling a big project and making things neat and tidy! After I get all the filing done, I will be trained on how to handle sales and then eventually how to run the various production machines. Most people would rather endure the Torture of a Thousand Papercuts than organize, file, and archive paperwork all day (although the options are really quite similar.) For me, though, it is not bad at all. My brain seems to handle boring and repetitive tasks very well and filing (for the most part) is not hard on the body.
The environment is pretty cool, too. The staff is family except for a few of us, but everyone is pretty laid back except the owner/sales manager but he's nothing I can't handle. The dress code is jeans and sneakers, which is EXCELLENT for me. Wearing dress clothes and especially dress shoes is downright painful at times! Wearing comfy clothes means I am spending less attention trying to ignore how hot and stuffy I feel and more time to focus on doing a good job. I am doing slightly-above minimum wage work for comparable pay and it suits me just fine. There isn't much stress involved with filing, especially when you know what you are doing and can do it quickly and efficiently.
I don't have much responsibility, but I don't want any just yet. In spite of my years of prior experience, I am an entry level worker. I have been out of work for so long that I have to start all over at Square One. Considering where I was a few years ago, though, Square One isn't that bad a place to be. The fact that I can handle showing up to work everyday - on time - and complete the tasks assigned to me with minimal supervision is actually a big milestone for me. As depressing as it may sound, I am thankful for just making it through each day without screwing up or breaking down. You have to start somewhere, right?
I have come to realize that this condition I have - Fibromyalgia - isn't the only thing in life that defines me. It did however, knock me down - hard. I am looking at this stage of my life as "recovery." Just like the parameters of a depression or a recession can not be defined until situations improve enough that the length and depth of "rock bottom" are recognizable, I have not been able to understand the true shape of my own low until I was able to move past it into a better place. However, "Better" does not mean "best." Having seen the improvement I have made over the last year, especially, I am confident that I will continue on this path of healing for a lot longer. I see a future for me that is full of life instead of pain. I have had to come to grips with the possibility - perhaps even the fact - that my 100% will never be the same as it once was, but my best will surely better than where I am right now.
One of the stepping stones along my path has been to acknowledge that FM has destroyed who I once was. The "old me" is in the past and the shell of who I once was is all that is left. Truly understanding that shell, what it is made of, has taken thought, prayer, and insight. Writing, journaling, and reading about other survivors has helped me define who I was, who I am, and who I want to be. When all else was gone, what did I have left? What was the one thing that told me I was still alive (if barely)? Why am I in this particular place? Did I get here on my own? Did others push me down? Who was there to help me up? In the quiet of my soul what do I feel?
I can now see that this "shell" of me is like the framework for a building built on a solid foundation. Beneath me is the "rock bottom." I can stand on it and know that it will hold me up no matter what else may come. The frame of me is what I know to be true. My experiences have shaped and molded me and made me strong. I know that as I heal and grow, my frame will hold true. With the foundation and framework in place I can begin to build the rest of me again. Every day it becomes easier to look in the mirror and be confident in what I see. I am not yet finished, but I have made enough progress that I can handle being outside in the world again. Inside I am still hollow. Not in a sad and lonely way. I feel open and ready to start filling my heart and soul again.