What’s a Woman For?

That is, if she isn’t, by 58 years of age, a wife, a mother, and, by now, a grandmother? What if she’s been single since her divorce 25 years ago? What if she decided not to have a child on her own because her family of origin wouldn’t have been there for her (although they were for her older sister C – even she was).

This question does not exclude or ignore that she is also a professional technical writer. Has worked in her field for approximately 33 years? (Writing and editing, specifically, not necessarily technical.)

I thought it was hard to define my “woman” experience after my divorce. Or even back in my 20s when Time magazine (circa 1985) reported that most women who don’t marry by 30 never will? [Why does the American media get to influence or define women’s existence? I know that report influenced me to get married before I knew what I was doing.]

But now? I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I still don’t have a great passion for the work, as in my current job, I do. I’m not sure what to do next?

I don’t have a large income, a big savings account, a sure-footed 401K or retirement “plan”. In that way, I’m very much like the majority of most American citizens.

I have no idea how to age into my 60s. Should I be researching medicare? How do I be a “Senior Citizen”? I know I’m not there yet but it’s good to get a head start on worrying about this…isn’t it?

The thing about American culture (besides all the other things about it) that seems odd to me is that there are no instructions for anything – for finding a spouse, for raising a child, for growing old. No real definitive instructions. Everyone must wing it. There are “resources” for all of these phases. And I supposed it’s assumed that parents either teach by example or instruct their offspring on how to relate to others, how to care for a child younger than they are, how to behavior once you get to 20 years of age. There should be an American handbook and training guide for being a human among other humans.

Unfortunately, that guide would be written, in this county, by an old, white man who has little experience, if any, in the many cultures we live in now. And especially no idea about what the American Woman’s experience is. Because they’d have to have life experience as a black, white, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and I know I’m leaving out others, woman. American men, especially white men, grow up in an entirely different culture than American women do.

I may be a bit off topic. I’m just saying that I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated with struggling all the time financially, emotionally, and with aging. I know my situation is not the worst, I’m not saying it is, but it is my situation.

And the only real tool I have any experience, and maybe some talent in, is writing. And though no one really reads this blog – it helps me sort things out.

I am in a position of really needing some sorting.

So that’s it for today – hopefully, my next blog will have some enlightenment to share.

What to do next? (from Archive)

You have probably realized – probably before I ever did – that this Technical Writer career seems to let me down every 6 months.

That is, even with permanent positions, the company I work for decides to down-size or redirect their finances after I’ve assimilated with the development team and the work I need to do, after about 6 to 7 months.

I usually have a job again within 1 to 3 months. I always hope it will only be a month. But I never know. I’ve done this a lot over the last 10 years. So, this time I’m not panicked or freaking out. I’ve had a lot of practice is what I tell people.

Oh, I will freak out, eventually, if nothing comes my way sooner rather than later.

Another Layoff (from May 2017 Archive)

I wonder if we have a destiny, a solid, unbending path from birth to death? I can see that who I am today might be in conflict with whom destiny, or Destiny, intended me to be. Or, at least, I’m feeling like that might be my universal truth.

To explain a bit:

Since my layoff from a full-time employment in January 2009 to now, May 2017, I’ve struggled to stay employed. I’ve taken contract job after contract job with very little hope of being a full time employee again. I finally got a contract-to-hire (no bullshit this time) position and after working my butt off for the company for 7 months, I got laid off. To be fair, lots of people got laid off. Lots of people who thought they’d become FTE (full time employees) got laid off. Because the company wanted to save money, because after buying our company and saying, hire all the people you need, the big company said they needed to cut jobs to save money.

I initially thought – “God doesn’t want me to do well; to have a decent life.” And, “I’m expendable again.” But then again, I sent out 3 resumes before nightfall. So, maybe I am still determined to continue on.

I haven’t had a vacation in over 20 years. The last one was as a 25-year-old with my family at the beach – which got cut short when one of my brothers got drunk and angry and punch a hole in the rental’s living room wall. When I was married, my husband took a 10-day vacation with his pothead friends every year and therefore, didn’t need to take a vacation with me.

I took 2 weeks in January 2005 off, quit my teaching job to do so, and took Feldenkrais training (more on that later) at a ranch in the desert outside Santé Fe, New Mexico. Although the training was all day, that was a vacation for me. The weather was beautiful and sunny every day. The nights were freezing but that was even enjoyable. The people were awesome – a few I still keep in touch with. And, I was much more relaxed when I got back. As an added treat, I missed the worse winter storm that Raleigh, NC, had seen in a century.

But I didn’t continue with the training to become a practitioner. Because I couldn’t afford the tuition and had to earn money, pay bills, I went back to my original, accidental career of technical writing for RTP software companies.

The whole point of bringing in my vacation history was to say that, I had just told friends that YES I could take a vacation – a week at the beach with awesome women in October – for $850 for the entire week! Like, this happened, really, the day before I was laid off.

Hence, the thought that God didn’t want me to have a decent life; but, really, I’m not sure I should hold onto that grudge.

So, what is the point of my starting paragraph? Destiny. I’ll get back to that.

I have worked really hard over the last 20 years to recover from my childhood. First, I went to Al-Anon because I was the ex-wife of a druggie (divorced at age 33) and the daughter of alkies. Then 7 years later realizing I, myself, was an alcoholic, I got to Alcoholics Anonymous. I spent my 40s and, now 50s, working the Steps of the Program, seeing a therapist (I’ve actually seen therapists since I was 19 because I didn’t know why I was stressed, sad, and confused all the time). When I was 48, my shrink (not my therapist) told me he always knew I was ADHD. Well, more accurately, I finally heard what he’d been telling me. I was shocked. WHAT? I’m too old to have that.

Backup – I met my shrink, I’ll call him Nick, when I was still married and about 30 years old. But antidepressants don’t work if you are drinking and drugging with your husband. So, I left the husband, because I was tired of being depressed, and was divorced at 33.

By 35, I was having major panic attacks – the kind where your vision changes, you can’t breathe and you think you have cancer or something worse. People around you step back. I was divorced by then and going to Al-Anon. I had bought a house on my own. But I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t touch things without thinking something would kill me.

I didn’t know I had Anxiety disorder. Or, that I had OCD. Finally, at about 38, I went back to Nick and he recommended Prozac (about 80 mg) to alleviate the attacks. I agreed to take 20 mgs. I was afraid of what it would do to my brain.

I know doctors say this isn’t possible, but I believe that I took one 20-mg dose and within 24 hours I could tell a difference. I thought, “so this is how people do math – they can think!”

Eventually, I agreed to the 80 mg, and the attacks got fewer and fewer. I saw a therapist who taught me to question my fearful thinking and to counter it with the idea that “maybe I was going to be okay.” It’s called cognitive behavior therapy – and it works! I was able to stop taking Prozac. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I still have to take medicine for anxiety and major depression. I take medicine now for ADHD just so I can focus and keep a job.

Some people think that AA is all they need. I know I can’t tell myself that. AA, psych meds, a good therapist, a shrink to check the meds, and sober friends keep me alive today.

By the way, a side note, I don’t abuse my psych meds. People do abuse prescription medicines while in the Program. But I prefer to stay sober and alive. Plus, I don’t get high off of them, so what would be the point?

Talking about getting high. This layoff makes me want to check out in a big way. I just want to stop feeling like a major loser. I’m in debt, I own a small town house (barely), I’m 56, and I am not sure I won’t end up in the street pushing a stolen Target shopping cart. I’ll have to train the cats to walk on leases – not really a possibility. And, I cannot, after coming inches to having legitimate paid-time-off (PTO), think that I can afford that vacation at the beach. I want to talk myself into it, but I can’t make it make sense to spend that money.

And to top it off – I knew, I knew, when the Orangutan was made President, this might happen, that my future was not going to be bright. I knew many Americans were going to get flushed down the drain. I was just hoping I wouldn’t be one of them.

I never got to that part about Destiny. So, I will.

What I wonder is if a child is born into an abusive, violent home, told they were a burden and stupid from day 1, and later find out they have inherited mental illness in addition to alcoholism, can ever really veer off their natural path toward successful suicide? Even after they have spent over 35 years in search of why they seem to think differently than “normal” people and why they self-sabotage just when something good comes their way. Even after they have spent 22 years working on their inner life and their defective character – and actually changing their behavior and reactions – even after that can that child expect to continue down the spiraling destructive path? Or can they hope for a different future?

I’d like to know. Because it sure as hell feels like the answer is No right now.