New Year Things

The past five years have been a wild ride. ESPECIALLY the past two.

In January of 2017 I had a bit of a mental breakdown. This is to be expected when one has hit their limit of enduring circumstances that brought more chaos than peace. I loathed my line of work, but it was the only industry I could get hired in. I loathed where I lived, but my (then) partner refused collaborate on changing our circumstances. I was miserable in my relationship, but felt trapped, financially.

I was STUCK.

Until I decided to just… not be stuck anymore.

It wasn’t that simple, obviously.

It entailed finding a therapist, admitting that was not happy, and (gasp!) asking for help

The funny thing is, people love helping. Despite this, the idea of actually ASKING for help felt insurmountable. Somewhere along the lines I had internalized the idea that my needs were inconvenient or annoying to others. (I suppose that is bound to happen when you were born into cultural traditions where children were bred to be farm laborers and/or seen but not heard.)

I started over. Again. I left those environments. I let the credit cards go into default. I applied for assistance. I worked part time as a behavior therapist. I started working on my health.

It was one of those “it gets worse before it gets better” situations. I made some terrible interpersonal / situational judgement calls while trying to find my way to some semblance of peace.

Things did get better, though. SO much better. I realized my support needs and limits. I got better at communicating those limits and holding boundaries. I found a companion willing to assist me with those things on my terms.

And then… As if from nowhere…. THE POWERS THAT BE thrust me toward a career path that I…. Love? A cool thing about living in a small town is that the hiring pool is a lot smaller, so it’s a lot easier to stand out as an acceptable candidate. I started working in elementary schools, providing reading interventions to kiddos with different learning support needs. I was actually EXCITED to go to work — a drastic shift from the dread that had been weighing me down for so many years.

On a HOLISTIC level, everything started to improve…. Including my endocrine dysfunction, and consequently, my ovulatory cycles. After more than a decade of believing that PCOS had barred me from achieving motherhood through pregnancy, I found myself knocked up. This was a very welcome pregnancy, as it was something my companion and I had discussed in-depth, and fully intended to work towards.

So, in late 2019, I had a baby.

And then, in early 2020, the whole world shut down.

The initial plan was to go back to work after maternity leave ran out… But the pandemic brought a change in plans, as childcare options disappeared and schools shut down. I found myself stuck in perpetual maternity leave: caring for a tiny human with quirky medical support needs whilst finally finishing my bachelors degree.

It sucked.

I mean, the kiddo was rad…. But I was told there would be a village. (There was no village.) In times like these, I saw other new moms lean on grandparents & aunties for respite. The only grandparents to be spoken of were unfit to care for infants, out of area, or both. As far as “Aunties” go, the only options were individuals being intentionally reckless in rebellion against medical guidance, or those who were so petrified by that guidance that they bunkered down in fear, refusing any degree of human contact. In these times it was difficult to find peers aspiring for balance between those two extremes.

It was HARD, but I survived the damned thing.

I survived the damned thing because my support needs were met.

I was stressed to all heck under impossible circumstances… But this time I had a therapist I could debrief with, a home where division of labor was a collaborative effort, and a partner who was willing/able to take the lead when mama needed a frickin break. As it turns out, that makes a hell of a difference.

I’ve been over here playing whack-a-mole in the midst of an onslaught of increasingly apocalyptic world events. Then I turn around, and two years have passed.

It is 2022.

It sort of BREAKS MY BRAIN to process how many drastic life changes have happened in the past 5 years since I decided to start over again.

The wild thing is, the changes keep coming.

In a couple weeks, I am slated to start my Masters program studies. As of a couple days ago, I have been recommended for admissions to a Master of Arts in Education with a Credential to become a School Counselor.

I can’t quite go back to work yet full time, as my kiddo’s therapy docket makes it a bit difficult to adhere to a traditional work schedule. I substitute as a reading tutor here and there, to keep from slowly slipping into madness…. But that’s about all I can commit to with circumstances as they are.

(I mean, I sure as heck don’t want to start making my student loan payments.)

So, Masters program it is.

Based on the way things are trending, by the time I graduate, my kiddo’s support needs will likely have evolved in a way that will allow me to go back to “real” work whilst assuring that his developmental needs are being met.

It sort of all works out timing wise, considering these past two years have traumatized an entire generation of school kids… One can anticipate that the demand for school counselors and/or psychologists to rise in the coming years.

Moving forward, I intend to trust myself a little more. If I could survive the fustercluck that has been life up until this point, I probably don’t need to waste so much energy second-guessing myself.

Wish me luck, yeah?

~Gracie