Everyone goes through it from time to time. I’m going through it now. It’s that feeling that your life is disturbed in some way, dissolution takes hold and you feel you are in one of these in-between places where the world is not quite light and not quite dark. It’s a dawn or dusk kind of time and it is disquietingly uncomfortable.
When I first stopped working because my sarcoidosis was raging, it was without a doubt, one of the best decisions I could have made. It was healing and it was the ultimate act of self care. I have been utterly and entirely grateful that we are in a position where I could do this because I never did quality for disability. I was told I was young enough to be “retrained to do something less stressful.” It’s okay. We’ve managed. That first year of being freed of the stress and overwhelming responsibilities of a very difficult job was therapeutic. I was able to rest my body for the first time in years and slowly, I was able to gain back some strength.
The second year I was not working was actually kind of fun. I was feeling well enough to do a little traveling and we got a new puppy. I had many pleasant distractions and my friends had not yet forgotten all about me so there always a weekly lunch or two planned. I felt like a human being again for the first time in years and I was happy, truly and completely happy. I remember that year with great fondness.
I’m now deep into year three of not working and this year has been difficult. It kind of all started when I severely sprained my ankle last autumn, only to learn that I also have bone spurs and sarcoid in the bone marrow now. As is often the case with sarcoidosis, it took many months to heal and even now ten months later, the ankle is still not quite right. It’s weaker and it swells from time to time and it aches all the time. Around this time, we also allowed a family member of mine to move in with us for a month so he could get back on his feet. We had hoped, although did not expect, that doing this would help him make positive changes and better choices. That did not happen. He has since moved out and we don’t speak much, if at all.
I haven’t traveled at all this year. I don’t see my friends much anymore. They all work, have families and lives of their own. This year I have been alone a lot more. I like being alone but I am still a people kind of person. My health has been isolating. My body is becoming more disagreeable than it was a couple of years ago. It’s small things but they add up. I’m not breathing as well, I have difficulty standing and walking for long periods of time and I tire very easily. So, life feels stagnant. It’s quiet but it’s an uncomfortable quiet. It’s not a peaceful, loving life kind of feeling this year. I feel a little like sarcoidosis actually knocked me off course and I am just realizing now that I am is lost. All the things that used to define me have changed. I’m no longer a boss, no longer a striver, no longer a worker bee, no longer an income producer.
There are times I feel like a layabout. I know that I am not. I know that I have a serious medical condition that zaps the life out of me but it is this feeling that creates a rising sense of panic inside of me sometimes. I look around me and see other people who struggle and appear to be more engaged in the world than I am and I begin to feel like a failure. I’m not trying hard enough. I am not striving as I should be. These are very old familiar feelings. They are feelings that probably helped get me sick in the first place or, at the very least, have had a negative impact on my overall well being. They are stressful feelings. They are demoralizing feelings. I know I should not compare myself to others.
The reality is that my life took a turn that I didn’t see coming. No one ever does when they are healthy. Our health, when we have it, is something we simply take for granted. I’m not healthy anymore. I have had to learn to do a lot of things differently and my life has changed in ways that are both complicated and incredibly boring. In truth, a part of me has never entirely made peace with not working. I know I needed to stop what I was doing then at that time. The job and the company I worked for were toxic to my health and that was not going to change. I did the right thing then but now I am left to wonder what the right thing for me is now.
I am left to wait it out, in an uncomfortable, confusing, mixed up time of transition, a dawn or dusk kind of time, a time of unknowns and loneliness. This is a time of stillness for me and times of stillness can be uneasy. It’s like eating dinner with someone and no one is talking. You want to fill the quiet with words just make the silence go away but you can’t think of anything meaningful or interesting to say. I am sitting in that kind of silence in my life right now. I am waiting for inspiration. I am seeking direction and purpose but until I find it, I just have to accept this unease and allow myself to embrace the awkwardness that comes with having no idea what you are supposed to be doing.