So I finally achieved my goal of getting a good offer for a full-time job, outside the home and in an office. I’ll have daily conversations with coworkers. I like the people I’ll be working with, based on the impressions I got of them during the very lengthy and extensive interview process.
I start next Monday. That means everything is great, right?
Well, the actual truth is that I’m a little (or a lot) nervous about the change.
I won’t have the same horrific commute that I did when I worked FT in downtown Dallas, so that’s a plus. And I know from experience that I will greatly benefit from having the order and predictability of a regular work schedule. I’ve made this transition before. I know I can again. I know that I want to do it again.
But there’s that considerable nervousness factor to consider, too. I sucked at my job in downtown Dallas. I couldn’t learn the technical aspects of the software I was supposed to support. The people I worked with mostly didn’t like me and in most cases I was old enough to be their mom. And I just plain had a shitty attitude because I hated riding the train and didn’t particularly want to be working there, which is probably why people didn’t like me.
My health also plays a big part in my apprehension, though. I remember that I’d have occasional nights (at least once or twice a week) when I slept like shit due to insomnia and pain, and I still had to drag my ass out of bed and get to work and function. That’s the part I’m not looking forward to: going to work anyway even when everything in my body is telling me to stay home and rest.
And this is a choice I made consciously. I know that with my MS I will have more pain when I don’t sleep well. I know I will have days when I feel like I can’t do it. But the alternative is giving up, admitting my illness has defeated me, taking a pittance in disability income instead (although the fact that I’d have better health insurance with disability doesn’t escape me.)
This is my chance to prove that I can do it. That I can still work full time. Not only that, but that I can work full-time using my brain in my chosen field. I held out for the kind of job I wanted and I made it. I had the luxury of time in that I didn’t have to go for a call center job first just to get more income, even though we needed it.
Freelancing has been bad for me in so many ways. I sometimes overlook the periods of several years when I had other jobs in addition to freelancing; I think sometimes my husband overlooks them, too. But the one thing about freelancing is that even if the isolation is terrible for me and the irregular paychecks significantly increase my stress (which I’m dealing with at this very moment), I can still hide my MS better.
I will likely have to nearly completely give up my freelancing, which brings up whole new issues. Like what will I do with actual free time? How will I get rid of the guilt over having free time and in feeling like I should always be doing more? I haven’t just let myself relax since… I don’t know when, actually. It may not have been even since I had kids and I’ve been a mom for 20 years. I don’t know how to relax anymore. I feel like allowing myself time for leisure makes me weak.
I’m worried about my new coworkers reacting badly the first time I start to slur my words or stumble into walls. Fortunately the most likely thing to cause me serious MS symptoms is being on my feet for long periods of time, which isn’t likely to happen often at my job.
I’m essentially trying to pretend I don’t have MS. I did not disclose it. I don’t require special accommodations for it. My workload compared to what I’ve been doing as a freelancer will be laughably minimal. So the combination of a comparatively low workload and shorter commute and coworkers I expect to enjoy brings together the best possible conditions for me to stay well.
But what happens if and when they find out that I have MS? I have both a concert and a wedding to attend during the work week in my first month on the job. Will those events result in me getting too little sleep and rest? Since sleep and rest are the best prevention for MS wonkiness and I’ll still be adjusting to a much earlier schedule, I don’t know how well I’ll do with a couple days of really poor sleep. I’m not used to waking up at 6 a.m. anymore.
I want to be like everybody else. I don’t want my disability to even be noticeable, let alone for it to stop me.
I like to think I’m a super badass. In some ways, I have accomplished things that suggest that’s true: birthing a 10-pound baby vaginally without an epidural; joining roller derby even though I sucked at it; driving down to Texas from Michigan by myself and working to pave a way for my family to join me here. Sometimes, I’m really tough.
But my MS is also out of my control. And I don’t know if I’m going to be pushing myself too hard by having a FT job or if the greater feeling of purpose will counteract its effects. I guess there’s only one way to find out. And honestly that unknown is a little scary.