Monday, October 27, 2008

What it means for me to not be working

I met up with a friend about an hour's drive away from here for lunch. It was a lot of fun - she's about my age and has bone mets like me. Of course there are differences, but we have some things in common. Both of us are on long-term disability, for example, and both of us struggle with the fact that we're not working.

You'd think that after two and a half years of not working, I'd have reconciled myself to not working again... but I can't. Not yet.

I grew up thinking that work is extremely important and that no matter how I felt - no matter how sick or hungover or tired I was - I would go to work and I would do the best job I could while I was there. This work ethic was very strongly ingrained in me, so much so that the fact that I'm not currently working feels like I'm not living up to my own internal code of ethics. By not working, I also feel like I'm a non-productive member of society. I suppose these feelings are partly rooted in thinking that I don't have anything to offer society except my work. That's silly, though, isn't it? I *know* I'm a valuable person. And yet some days I feel as though my value is wasted by not working, if that makes sense.

Reconciling myself to not working again would mean that I'd have to find a different way to contribute to society, or find a different definition of a contributor. I'd also have to change my definition of work to something more suiting my present conditions (so far, I've been unable to do that). Of course I have no idea how to make those changes and so I'm guessing that it would require some, well, work. :)

As well, reconciling myself to not working again would mean that I'd have to give that idea completely, whereas right now I have hope (misguided or not) that I *could* possibly, maybe, go back to work. I don't know if I'm ready to give that up yet. Part of me still very much wants to be "normal" with my work ethics and my going to work every day. Right now, admitting that I couldn't go back to even that level of normal feels like admitting (succumbing?) to failure - that I couldn't do it, or that maybe I didn't try hard enough. I think I'm not at all ready for that.

No comments: