Friday, October 30, 2009


It has been 462 days since I was last employed. 1 year, 3 months and 5 days. It's been like a prison sentence to me. I often dispaired of ever being free. I did my best to remind myself that this situation was but temporary. I'm happy to say that I succeeded. But I've learned a lot during this difficult time. Tuesday I start a new job (hopefully). I say hopefully, because I'm still in shock, I'm still holding my breath. I don't think that it will become real to me until I start Tuesday night. And I'll probably have a panic attack Tuesday night. What I've been hired to do is not difficult at all, but this past year and a half has been very damaging to my sense of self. I often tell my therapist that it's going to take a lot to reverse the damage done to my soul by this time. I have to learn to believe in myself again, I have to learn to do things for myself simply for the sake of doing so again. I have to learn to enjoy myself again. Still, with all the damage done I can honestly say that I have come through this a wiser person.

Oh, I've learned so many things.

I feel like my life is taking on a new face, like I'm at a new beginning. And that is what I intend to make it. I fully understand the difficulty that I am going to face as me and my family transition into something new. But I'm prepared for that. I'd rather be dead tired than poor and willingly ignorant. And they do sell Red Bull in bulk at Costco. I'll have to work that in the budget. This job could not have come any sooner. My unemployment benefits are set to run out in 10 days, and they never let you know if you're eligible for an extension. Even if I were, it'd only get us through February. I like the idea of my income being based on my performance rather than the government's budget.

But like I said above, I've learned so many things.

My stroke taught me what could happen when I let fear take over my life, and I failed to take care of myself. I will never again let another human being make me fear for my future. Above all things, I have choices. I'm always thinking ahead now, plans A, B and C...and D if necessary. And if those doin't work? Well, I'll just stick the pencil back over my ear and go right back to the drawing board.

The health problems after the stroke taught me the extent of my endurance. I always saw myself as sickly prior to the stroke. Now I know just how much pain I can take before I drop. And that's a good thing, because with fatigue comes pain in my world. I know my body better now, I'm prepared now.

Going on bedrest taught me how to accept help. Given my family situation, I have had to learn to either do it myself or do without. I'm now learning to let people do things for me because they want to, and I'm learning to my delight that those people actually exist.

The isolation of my health problems taught me who my friends and family truly are. There are only a few people who I can excuse from being around, my big sister H and my best friend Z. One is a busy mom herself, not to mention busy at work. I've always known that she loves me unconditionally. She is one of the few. My best friend Z lives far away...but if he were here, he'd be at my side. It hurt at first, realizing that a lot of the people who once sang my praises only did so because my presence served them on some level, but I am glad to have them out of my life now. Simple is good.

Being a mother taught me that I am not my mother. I can do what the women in my family were unable to do for their children. I can and have broken the cycle. My family is still dysfunctional (Mom's side), but I can love them from a distance and still hold onto my dignity. And unfortunately for them, they're coming to realize that Samantha will take you out at the knees for disrespect these days. Allow me my basic human dignity and I will allow you yours...and then some. That's my nature.

Living in poverty has taught both me and Steve that we wasted what we had before. We now live more responsibly, and will continue to do so despite the change in our circumstances. My job is just minimum wage, but it's not welfare. That's what matters to me. So when people ask me where I'm working, I'll proudly say Pizza Hut. It's better than standing in line for the Dole. Now, when my family needs something, we can get it, instead of trying to juggle other financial concerns to make sure we have underwear with no holes in it. I can actually buy my son Christmas presents this year. It would have been very hard for me if I were not able to do that. All that my son has is due to the charity of close friends, my brother and sister-in-law, and his grandparents. Steve and I could not have done this alone, and that has broken my heart. But now I can look at the FAO Schwarz catalogue and dream. They're not as expensive as they used to be when I was a kid.

One thing I forgot to add...the most important thing: my helplessness taught me to look to God. Throughout all of this, my soul has been crying out. I know that if I were to ever lose my faith, I would lose my sanity as well. I am happy to say that I have learned much better how to trust my Father. I'm still a work in progress, but I can see His hand in all of this. I know that there are some looking at my life and thinking it is utterly depraved, but they don't see everything. He does, and with every setback, sin and difficulty He is teaching me and my husband-to-be how to be better people. Getting Steve to understand that we could do more than just survive, we could actually LIVE and THRIVE has been two full-time jobs. But I think he gets it now. He deserves to be happy, and if it takes me a decade to undo the damage that was done to him by those who did not value him, then so be it. If I came into his life for one reason only, I believe that reason was to make him happy and give him at least one of his heart's desires (Little Man). Steve came into my life to show me that there was someone around who cared and who could stick by through all the illness and pain. This time has worn us both out and almost ripped us apart, but we were determined if only for the sake of our son, we would remain a family and work things out. We're like the Bundy's these days (I can cook better than Peg), but it's all good. There's plenty of time for heart-stopping romance. At least we are friends. That is the foundation on which to build a marriage. If you don't like the person you are trying to love, it ain't gonna work.

I'm kind of glad that I didn't step right back into corporate America. All of a sudden I'm no longer qualified to do what I've been doing (and doing well) for the past 14 years. I understand that this is just the reaction to the state of the economy. Why pay me when they can get a person with a degree and pay them $12 an hour? Perhaps without the distraction of trying to make it in The Office, I can focus on other what I'm really supposed to do with my life.

I start school in January. Definitely a switch in my major in the works. History, Forensics, Anthropology? I really like Anthropology. It'd be cool to be a professor, move to some college town and fill the brains of my students with things they've never encountered before. I always appreciated those teachers who stepped a little outside the textbook. I have to be careful not to wear myself out. But I think the joy of just being able to be productive again will give me ample energy. And if I get tired, I can always bark at Steve to cook dinner. :-)

The clouds are breaking...who knows what will come next? All I know is that I'm so ready...

Oh, and my son is walking now. ALL OVER THE HOUSE!!!!

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