Fifteen years ago I became a mum. I left the workforce and became a full time stay at home parent. Still wanting to keep my mind active I studied to become a swimming teacher but ended up paying more out in childcare fees than my actual wage. When my second baby arrived I decided to put my work life on hold until he was a little more independent. That was 11 years ago. When my youngest was heading off to four year old kindergarten I thought great, now I can get back into work and start contributing to the household finances, then I was diagnosed with cancer. That was 7 years ago.
Over the last seven years I have worked a casual job which ended rather abruptly after I had a dumping episode. Unfortunately a side effect of living without a stomach and a boss who was not willing to compromise. I’ve also done contract work but the pay and the hour and 20 minute round trip wasn’t even covering my petrol. Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of pluses. I get to stay at home, attend children’s events at school, dont have to compromise my boss if any of the kids are home sick, volunteer my time to the school community, eat when I want, rest when I want, go out when I want and work on my art portfolio. Its like being on one big holiday only there is no sightseeing or spending money and you have to motivate yourself to get out of bed every single day.
Sacrificing all the things that come with working full time and being able to up skill in the creative sense has been the most selfish and fulfilling part of being at home. Launching a website and Page on Facebook, doing commissioned art pieces for people all over the world. Pushing myself on a daily basis to be better, to be more visible, to extend my experiences into meditation classes, art classes, craft workshops. Advertising, daily posts, sticking flyers up around local shops. Expand, expand, expand, doing what I love in the hope that I can not only help others but give my family the financial freedom we so desire. Here I am nearly eight years down the track and I feel like a bit of a failure. I am so tired. So tired of trying to balance my health, my family, my support page and my business. So tired of feeling guilty for not being able to financially contribute to the family income, so tired of feeling I am not where I thought I would be. Watching others around me so motivated, meditating daily for blasts of inspiring feel good posts, feeling into the rhythm of the universe and working with the cycles of the moon, bla bla bla, plastering positivity all over their social media, watching friends who have their shit together and feeling I could be doing more, I should be doing more, I need to be seeing and being more. But I can’t because I am SO TIRED of trying and failing. Seriously, there are only so many times you can pick yourself up before you have to stop and reevaluate your entire life and the current direction you are facing. And now a quiet pause…….
I can understand why so many amazing Artists simply give up trying to make a living from their Art. I really wanted to be the exception. After all I am a walking miracle and by all accounts I shouldn’t be alive right now. Should’nt that mean something? Didn’t God let me live so that I could see out a much greater purpose? I thought I’d been grasping life by the big kahunas to create the successful abundant life I deserve, but I haven’t succeeded and being granted a second chance at life doesn’t make me special, it just makes me extremely lucky. My life holds no more value than anyone else’s. My experiences certainly make me look at life with a different perspective and I always look for every possibility. If I didn’t I could possibly be the most miserable person on the planet. Here’s a depiction of me looking miserable with a pair of useless big kahunas.
Is there a part of me that has had a sense of entitlement that because I survived that makes me somehow special? Reality check …… I think there might have been. My shadow just got a big slap in face and knows this is a complete fabrication to cover up any insecurities and fear around lack and acceptance. Getting through cancer doesn’t make me special, it makes me a liability. Lets face it letting a few organs go is going to compromise a lot of things and those that say it was a small price to pay to survive, well lets just say that comment is not helpful. They have absolutely no comprehension what price I have had to pay and continue to pay for everyday of my life. I simply do not have the capacity to work full time anymore. I don’t even know how I will cope part time. If I disclose the reasons for the gap in my of employment then I can almost guarantee that no matter how experienced I am or how much of a kind competent person I maybe, my resume will be cast aside quicker than yesterday’s newspaper. Let’s just look at the term cast aside for a moment. Abandoned, unwanted, undervalued, overlooked, ignored, forgotten, unused, depreciated, declined, passed over. Ever fiber in my being fights these words every single day, consciously and unconsciously. PTSD is very real in my world and it comes out in various ways, some of them extremely healing and creative and some not so constructive.
What does success look like anyway?
A large social media following? – These people probably have no time for anything else or they have lots of people working for them so stop comparing.
A healthy bank account? – Who doesn’t want an endless supply of cash but think about all of the things that are sacrificed in order to have this, including being with the most important people in your life.
A balanced body? – This is hard work in every sense of the word.
A great job? – Whats that? Unless you are extremely fortunate to love what you do or work for yourself in which case there are also big sacrifices.
Holidays? – That was nice for all of three seconds, now go chain yourself back to your desk in a job you hate with people you don’t really like but have to tolerate so you can save up for your next holiday.
Healthy relationships? – Saying no, creating boundaries, letting toxic people go no matter how much it hurts – did I also mention hard work.
Lots of friends? – The more friends you have the more drama you are likely to be pulled into – keep your circle small.
Just the fact that you have somewhere soft and warm to sleep with food in your cupboards? – Some may call that gratitude others might call that living in survival energy. Either way it’s all a matter of perspective.
I am also under no illusion that what people post is what they want you to see. Most people do not want other people to see that they are not coping, that their marriage is falling apart, that they cant afford to feed themselves, there are bills on the fridge they cant pay, that their health is failing, that their job is taking a mental and physical toll on their well-being and that life can sometimes be really tough. A beautiful made up face and cute baby photos do not equate to a good sleep and a well adjusted baby! All the misconceptions and in-authenticity out there in social media land causes a ripple of self doubt and anxiety that we all should be more that what we are or what we are capable of achieving. One big Snap chat filter so the world never has to see the real us. Even the most positive posts can be full of falseness and fishing for more likes or comments. Ive seen it happen in groups where people strategically reply over several days to comments on posts to bring their post back up to the top of the page for more exposure. It happens and these people are sprinkling spirituality out of their calculating fingertips. Sometimes I cant work out if I admire their enterprising genius or despise their disingenuous. Like it or not social media is such an integrated part of our daily lives that it plays a part in what I consider part of my success and some days like today I am just as messed up as the next person.
As I approach my eight year cancer free I am also contemplating what the future holds for me. But for today I do nothing but write as my head hurts from projecting, my heart aches from my past failures, my body is completely and utterly exhausted and my soul is so so tired. I know this shall pass and when the waves of emotion retreat I will have found another spark of inspiration from God knows where and a renewed sense of hope for better more abundant days to come. If there is one thing I love about me its the fact that I can recognize when I need to stop, retreat and give myself the time to reinvent myself. Kind of like Madonna but without her bank account!
When life gives you lemons, you say F?@k lemonade. Then google every single recipe you can using lemons!