I spent part of this morning crying in my attorney’s office. Not while he was in the room, of course, I don’t know him well enough to accept any attempt to make me feel better. It just struck me all of a sudden, that I am 55 years old and disabled. Yesterday I applied for social security disability, today I was discussing the possibility of disability retirement with my lawyer; it all seemed rather surreal.
Now, I know I am no more handicapped today than I was last week, when I was happily basking in my15 minutes of lesbian fame in J-Land. The pain is no worse, the exhaustion hasn’t changed, the brain fog that I struggle with is the same. Nothing has changed but my perception of my self. I simply stumbled over the edge of a concept, and fell again. This time flat on my face into misery.
I know lots of disabled people who get along just fine. Hey, I married to one, for Goddesses sake. My mother has one arm and I never realized until I was an adult that I grew up in “a handicapped household.” (The truth is, of course, that the household handicap was really emotional, not physical, but that’s another story.) I know people who have overcome incredible obstacles, and would never consider themselves handicapped. I ought to know better than to label myself.
Surely my working life is not over. Because I was a SAHM, so I didn’t even start that work-for-pay thing until I was forty and divorced. After 15 years, I finally had something of a career going, a state job, no less, with a good paycheck that enabled me to have a real savings account for the first time since the divorce. And I actually loved parts of what I was doing. What more could I want? (Besides less paperwork and more money, of course)
Sometimes I second guess myself and question my own experience. If I only tried harder, I’d be okay to work. A little pain? So what, just keep slogging forward. Brain fog? Find a job that requires no thinking. Exhaustion? Join the world, we’re a sleep deprived nation. Depression? Snap out of it! Just stop Dwelling!
Well, I do know I am somewhat dis-abled. I am not able to do a lot of things I could before. But despite being a cup-always-half-empty depressive, I do have some resources. I stumbled out of the attorney’s office and sat in my car. First I cried some more (I seem to do an inordinate amount of crying in my car these days), then I took stock.
I had asked the lawyer if I could at least volunteer some place, and he said yes,for a few hours a week. I decided to call the local women’s center on Monday. Then I drove to a small, very local Farmers’ Market and bought myself some flowers. From there I went to our local BBW clothing store and bought bits of a fall wardrobe I don’t need, spending money I can’t really afford. Retail therapy is not something I indulge in often, but it can be helpful. I began to feel better.
I am actually quite well off, if not financially. I have house to come home to, and Rene waiting inside the house. I have a great neighborhood to be out of work in, and it is my favorite time of year. I have friends and a support system, online and off. And I get to go on living, even if life is difficult at times. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but then who does? Life is always lived without assurances.
Whatever the lesson I am supposed to be learning from all this, I will keep on keeping on. Tomorrow I may fall off the edge into the oblivion of permanent depression. Today I tripped over a concept and got back up.