This morning during my mindfulness practice one thought and feeling kept popping back in.
How am I going to ever work a normal job again?
This was followed by a churning in the pit of my stomach that wants to rise up and engulf me.
I accepted the thought and it’s accompanying feelings, put it to one side and continued my mindfulness practice.
Now I am sat in my chair looking at the beautiful view out of my window and giving myself some time to sit and explore my fear.
Why am I scared?
I have worked almost continually for 24 years (bar maternity leave and two 3 month breaks due to ill health) up until March 2015. My jobs gave me purpose, made me feel useful and I felt I contributed to society. And this year I turn 40. Shouldn’t I have more with my life by now?
Now I am unable to work my world view has been turned upside down.
Because I survive on benefits am I no longer contributing to society? Am I one of the scrounging work shy mass our government would have us all believe of those who are in need?
No. I don’t think I am. I have worked and contributed therefore believe I should be able to draw on this whilst in poor health. Yet I still feel that when asked what I do for a living, I have to flash my badge of shame and say “I don’t work”.
Which in itself is wrong because it’s not that I “don’t” it is because I “can’t”.
This is where the fear sets in. My condition is not one that can be cured, it can ease and flare at it’s will and I have no control or warning of how I will be at any given day or even hour. So what if I don’t get better?
Not doing anything has never been my strong point, I have to be doing (though funnily enough this has never been the case for housework), learning and creating. This makes me feel like I have purpose.
These milestones are dangled in front of us like carrots to make a donkey walk faster. Articles such as ’25 things to do before you’re 25′ or ‘what should be on your bucket list’ are published all the time and I read them and think what have I been doing all my life?
I’m currently jealous and in awe of my old school friends 40th celebrations. I can’t party like it’s 1999 (again) and I have neither the means or the good health to travel.
It’s Mr Pea’s 40th this year too and I feel that we can’t celebrate because of money and my health. I feel I’m holding him back.
All this is tangled together and as I begin to pick it apart and make sense of it, I am beginning to realise that I have been part of a sheep mentality, now I can no longer be part of the society that is contributory, useful and obedient to its rules of existence and expectations of what a ‘full’ life should be.
I have to remember I have achieved. I have a large loving family, I’ve graduated twice, I own my own home. I love and am loved. I have travelled to beautiful places in the UK. I have never gone without food nor have I not ever had a roof over my head.
Milestones should be set and reset by me and not dictated by glossy magazines and society.
My need to been seen as perpetuality wanting to get on in life, to have status through my work and lifestyle has to be kicked into touch.
I have to stop continually thinking about the future and start being in the present.
I need to leave the flock.
The first step has been forced upon me by ill health. I have been given a blessing in disguise.
It is now up to me to take the reins and steer myself to where I ‘want’ to be not where I ‘have’ to be.
And that’s scary. It’s the unknown, the road less travelled and there aren’t any rules or signposts.
But there are people. People who are on their own scary, gut wrenching journeys. People who don’t conform to the norms of society but are still ‘doing’ and ‘giving back’, who are enjoying life in the now.
It is from these people I will take inspiration and stop existing and begin living.
Second step is to go easy on myself, heal and breathe.
Then I can start my ‘alternative’ path.
And now as I write this, my fear is turning to excitement.