Just after the holidays, in January 2017, I felt so excited for the new year ahead. I had lost some weight, had survived the holidays relatively unscathed, and had a career prospect as a librarian in the works that was in line with my lifestyle goals. Life was good!
All at once it seemed like everything came crashing down. I was offered an amazing career change and I chose to decline it for a variety of reasons, the main ones being that I would have had to cut my current salary in half and would have had no benefits. Besides that, my husband’s job security is uncertain, so it didn’t make sense for me to deliberately make our family’s financial existence more precarious just for my professional happiness. I was devastated when I made this choice because it felt unnatural and wrong and against every instinct in my being, but I made it to help my family move forward as we navigate an extremely uncertain future.
Beside my tumultuous career decisions, our son Cooper, who was born premature at 26 weeks gestation, turned 1 years old in January and although we celebrated this major milestone with happiness in our hearts, it brought back those awful, pent up feelings that I had worked so hard to smother. Images of him, no bigger than the span of my forearm, lying in an incubator fighting to survive, haunted my attempts to commemorate the occasion and made his birthday celebrations extremely emotional.
On top of all that, we have been trying to sell our house since this past September with no luck. We are bursting at the seams under this roof, our toddler is sleeping in the mudroom (door to the garage and laundry hookup is across from his captain’s bed) and our one year old is sleeping in a pack ‘n play in our ‘master’ bedroom, which give us a 12 inch gap to walk to our bed and 6 inches between the sleeping baby and our dresser drawers. When we bought this house in 2010 we were a young couple and it was perfect for us. Hell, it was big! It’s a fantastic house for a couple, and we did a lot of work to the basement to make it increasingly livable, but it’s just not a good home for a young family. My main requirement is 3 bedrooms on the same floor and a front door that DID NOT OPEN INTO THE LVING ROOM and I had no idea how difficult it would be to achieve that requirement. Especially living in a small village where our options are extremely limited.
For the past few months I have been feeling like I’m stuck in a mud pit. The life I want to lead is on top of a mountain far off in the distance but I am stuck to my knees in mud at the bottom of the earth. For weeks I turned my face to the wall and shut my eyes, trying to pretend that my ideals didn’t exist, that being stuck in mud was my new normal. I tried to keep my face toward the dark wall and pretend that the wall was my life, that the metaphorical roots and muck were my normal and nothing would change. This attitude lasted for a few months, and during those weeks I felt helpless, lethargic, and full of despair. My bad habits were on full display and each day I sunk deeper into the mud pit.
Near the end of my tumultuous weeks, my despair lessened and I was able to see more clearly again. I knew that I could no longer pretend that the mud pit was a safe place to live so I began to open eyes and turned away from the wall. I told myself to focus on the mountain far off in the distance, and began to plot a way to get out of the mud pit and eventually reach my destination. Before I started I had to gear myself up to believe that my ideals, the life I wanted to lead, was not only possible but probable, and that the journey to achieve those ideals was worth it.
It’s not easy for a skeptic like me to psych myself up! I tend to just go with the flow beside whoever’s next to me and lay my wishes in the ground in order to focus on the person beside me. But there comes a time when enough is enough and folks, I’ve reached that time.