Okay, you’re going to have to get used to the quasi-schizo way that I write. I promised to do a follow-up to my Liebster nomination and I promise that I will, but the last few days have just been too interesting to not chronicle in some way. I simply must get this down before it ceases to become relevant. Of course, relevance is up to the reader. Let me just say that I think it’s relevant.
On the day when the Male Sibling Unit and I made our trek to the Social Insecurity Office (it earned that title and I will explain that later) I had just interviewed for a job. I have not worked in the community for 18 months now, and the events that led up to my not working contributed to my not wanting actually be a part of the community. Or part of anything but my warm, comfy bed with my kitties snuggled up against me. Those of you with the big D know what I mean. Prior to 18 months ago, I always worked. From the age of 13, when my mother said, “If you want school clothes you need to get a job because I’m not buying them” I worked. At first, it was just babysitting. I was a pro at that by the age of 12, but by the time I was legally allowed to work in the private sector, I held summer jobs and babysat in tandem. I was a working fool, because clothes weren’t cheap if you wanted to fit in with everyone in high school, and all the extras that came along with being a teenager (class trips, yearbooks, school pictures, etc) were expensive, too. College applications were expensive, buying gifts for family on special occasions was expensive….you get the point. I had a roof over my head and food to eat, courtesy of the US Government, but everything else, I paid for myself. Throughout the following 30-odd years, I would work wherever I could, in fast food joints, factories, customer service, and then administrative assistant jobs. I worked while having three children and raising a total of five, through having grandkids living in my home and through a divorce and a remarriage. I worked. It was What I Did.
When my mother died in 2012, I experienced a broad spectrum of emotions. The grief process was especially difficult for me. I had quit The Job In Hell after 5 years at a car dealership a mere 4 months before my mom had died. You know all those terrible cliché things you hear about with regard to car dealerships? Well, I’m here to tell you that they’re all true, every single one, and if you begin a job at one with a soul, you’ll leave thinking you don’t possess one. Suffice it to say that, five years to the day after I started my glorious career as a catch-all administrative assistant there, I found myself flat on my back in a heart catheterization lab as my cardiologist held my hand. “My Dear,” he said kindly, “we can fix this with medicine, but can I tell you? No job is worth dying for.” I wrote my letter of resignation the next day.
While I took some time to recuperate and decide what was next, a miracle occurred : my mom and I began to talk. Really talk. With honesty and humility. I got her to admit that I was a massive disappointment to her, and that she didn’t know why that was. I got her to admit that maybe…possibly….she might have been a little harsh. Baby steps, Grasshopper. We were making progress, after 44 years of pain and anger and emotional abandonment, which led to all of the stupid, misguided, desperate choices I’d made. We were talking and I was taking charge of her health issues and she was actually improving, after years of neglecting her CHF and diabetes. Things were looking up.
And then she got pneumonia. And her body’s systems shut down, one by one. After 3 days in ICU, her doctor asked me to make the worst decision a child has to make for a parent. She had no living will or advanced directives. She never liked making those decisions, and so, she hadn’t. She left it all up to me. Of course. Not only had I ruined her life, but now I was charged with ending it.
No wonder I am such a fucking mess, right?
In the days following her death, I cried more tears than I had ever thought possible for someone who I was never quite sure really loved me. I was consoled by the well-meaning words of others, who assured me that of course she loved you so much! I got down to the business of sorting her affairs. She had never wanted a funeral, only cremation, but there was a bill to be paid there. Over the years, she had assured me that she had enough insurance to “take care of everything”. I found all the documents, made the phone calls, and found out that not only was there not enough to take care of everything, but that there was nothing. Nada. Zilch. She’d allowed everything to lapse at about the same time she had decided she was terrified of living in her house and moved into an adjoining apartment in my house. After she moved in, I asked, numerous times, and was always told, “It’s all taken care of. It will all be in my metal strong box. Now I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” Those words were final. You did not argue with my mother. You would be shut down, and then she’d tell all of her friends how horrible you were. I learned to pick my battles over many years of war.
There was no life insurance. Yep, this was it, her final “Fuck you”.There was a mortgage on a house going into default. There were tax bills. And there was me. *Sound the trumpets!* Her heir. The Executor of her “estate”. I needed to get back to work. I knew I did not want to work in an office (shudder). I applied at a big chain department store, got hired, and then got a call from a personal care facility that I’d applied to work at on a whim. All of a sudden, it seemed like that was what I needed to do. Be of service to the elderly, care for them, in the way my mother never let me for her. Look, in hindsight I know this was another episode of poor decision-making on my part, but you will find that this is a running theme in my life. I was sad. Those old people made me happy. Made me feel relevant. I could look upward and say, “See, Mom? They like me. I am important to them. Fuck you, Mom.” I was a working fool once again. I volunteered for all the overtime. 12 hour days were normal. I loved my job, because it made me feel cloistered within a group of people who didn’t see how broken I was inside.
It lasted almost two years before the ulcers started, my weight plummeted, and my doctor diagnosed me with Depression and Panic Disorder. Then I made the mistake of thinking that I was safe because I always did my job and never got into trouble and never missed time. There were big changes going on in Administration, and people were making noises. I won’t go into deets here because I still believe in the rules of HIPAA and I wouldn’t want to call a cutthroat bitch by name, but I operated a piece of office equipment (to make a copy of my pay stub) without “the expressed consent of Administration” , which is a breech of conduct. I was called into a “meeting” where I was humiliated, insulted, and then suspended. A day later, I was told I was terminated. Sounds, well, extreme, doesn’t it? It was. But somebody didn’t like me. And two weeks later, my boss, who was also very efficient, lost her job, too. To say that this was a cataclysmic event for me is an understatement. I had never, ever been fired before. I nearly committed suicide. I lost 10 more pounds. I was sick, both physically and mentally, and it was very easy for me to submerge myself within all of this and just give up. And I did, for a long time.
And then, there was some light. I began therapy. And therapy, very quickly, led straight to the root of my problems. And guess what (who) that was? You get 10 Starburst jellybeans if you guessed my mom. Send me your address and I’ll mail them. I always stock up over Easter.
I have been working my way back to gainful employment ever since. I may be a writer, but it does not yet pay the bills, and I’m going to have to contribute in a meaningful way if I want to continue the 40 year plan the husband and I have for renovating our 148 year-old house, because that shit is not cheap. I also want to go to school and get a phlebotomy license, because then the bills will be paid even easier. The idea of poking people for a living is strangely appealing. I have always enjoyed having to get my blood taken. *I love it when the red water comes!* Yes, you can tell me that I am a vampire-in-waiting. And so, I am proud to announce that baby steps have been taken, and I have accepted a job at another senior care facility, and this time, I am doing it for the right reasons, and not to shake my fist at a dead person who didn’t really care when she was alive, and likely didn’t give a crap once she was dead. I will need to be around people again, and I will need to curb my habit of speaking inappropriately because these are real humans and not my cats. I will have to be social, and civil, but I know that I can do it because I have learned to be brave.
Finally, I can stop saying, “Fuck you, Mom.”