Yesterday, after much deliberation (far too much deliberation), I finally accepted the fact that I can no longer work a full-time job because of my chronic pain.
My bosses did everything they could to work with me on a solution, but I cannot fundamentally perform the tasks required by my job. Driving to the office, sitting in a chair every day, and traveling to meetings was chipping away at me, little by little, breaking down any resilience I had left… which sounds absurd, doesn’t it? A sedentary job being too much for me?
But it was, and it is. Even mitigating devices put in place (like a kneeling chair at my desk or taking breaks in a recliner in my office) wasn’t enough. Husband has been begging me for ages to put my health first, finances be damned, but I kept dwelling on the decision and driving him out of his mind with my constant “What if?”s (again, I am sorry, Husband).
The reason for my very extended delay in making this transition was that it is just so hard to accept that I am limited in any way. That I’m actually disabled. I know this. I joke about it with friends, because if I don’t joke about it, then it threatens to overwhelm me. If I joke about it, then I am in control. And even though working from the comfort of my home sounded great — fantastic, even — in comparison to pain exacerbated by my office job, I just couldn’t make that jump for the longest time.
Simply put: Despite the pain, my job is comfortable. I know that a paycheck comes every other Friday. I know that my bosses and coworkers like me, so getting fired would probably not happen. It is safe. It is stable. The work is interesting. I did good work at first. Then that good work started becoming decent work after my surgery. And then that decent work started becoming okay work. The pain kept getting worse. I’d come home from the office totally exhausted, far more so than usual tiredness. I grew increasingly paranoid, trying to guess what my bosses were thinking of my excuses (sending a text with “Sorry, can’t come in today, I’m having a pain flare” and receiving radio silence in response) and wondering whether they were disappointed in me.
But with the money coming in almost equaling the money going out, it seemed absurd to leave. It seemed wrong. Surely if I just tried harder, I’d make a rally.
… Obviously I did not make a rally. I will be finishing this month and then working with my office on a “per project” basis, which is actually fantastic. Aside from that I have to navigate the world of unemployment. I’ll do some work-from-home freelancing. It’s a wide open world, bright and shiny, and I’m terrified.
Even that terror, though — the terror feels empty and hollow. I knew this was coming. I held off as long as I could. I prepared as much as was possible. I tried to be a regular person, though every day these thoughts were crowding into my mind. Now I am making adjustments so that my health comes first instead of finances taking priority. I have accepted that being me comes with some limitations these days. Right now. At this moment. These limitations are not forever. And who knows, maybe having my daily stressors removed will allow me to finally feel better for an extended period of time. All I know is that I can no longer operate from a place of fear.
Working from home will be an adventure. I will have a schedule; I will wear pants.
My co-worker will be a cat.
I will have a dedicated office space. My living room and bedroom will be off-limits until after work hours; if I have to take a nap, we have a guest room. I will engage in local activities that I couldn’t do before because they were during the traditional work day.
And most importantly — and as both Husband and my family told me for so long, it really is the most important thing — I will focus on my health.