It’s been a weird few months at my house, centering around a major life decision. Mid-December I left my job where I had been since 2010. It was a hard decision to make. Scary, to say the least. I’ve worked for someone else since I first started working and there’s a comfort in letting someone else be responsible for making the business run. Not to mention steady income and the benefits that are available to full time employees. But in the long run, I had to leave. So many people have contacted me with sweet words of encouragement, but also curious as to what brought on what seems like a rash decision. Well, here’s the scoop.
My decision boils down to this: stress was killing me. Physically it was making me sick, mentally it was draining me. If you know me very well, you know that my sweet son, Tuck, is a major source of my stress. He has unlimited energy and talks non-stop. He adds a stress I never imagined when trying to get pregnant. He’s so sweet and lovable, but he wears me out. My job, which I loved, had become a source of extreme unhappiness and stress. A job I used to look forward to and be proud of, only made me bitter. And guess what? I brought that home with me daily to the little boy who was always wide open. Add that to the other stresses of a dying grandmother, health issues of our parents, time limitations, etc. and I was one unhappy person. And my family was feeling the strain.
I struggled for a long time about all of these things and the day-to-day small things that always come up when you’re down. Then the invoice for rent on my embryos came. (If you don’t know what that means or haven’t read my story, search for “Pregnancy Done The Hard Way” in my previous posts.) So now I added “I’m 40, my current kid is wild and I’d love to quit my job, will I ever do IVF again?” to the list of things to decide. To say I was at my limit didn’t quite cover it. I was exhausted, beat down and felt trapped. I went on this way for a while. Just surviving. Taking out my anger on my husband and son. Dreading every new day.
In October, I reached a breaking point. I went to a psychiatrist and explained all I had going on. At the time, in true Katie luck, I had been waiting an hour past my appointment time and was a basket case. I cried. A lot. After laying it all on the table and still fearing she wouldn’t be able to help me, she started talking. I felt weak because I couldn’t handle it on my own, but she assured me I was strong because I had managed as long as I did. She made suggestions about medications she thought would help my energy level and anxiety. She gave me hope. She also recommended a therapist. The world has come a long way in the stigma that is mental health, but people still view medicine and therapy as a weakness in a lot of circles. I use and promote essential oils and a chemical-free lifestyle, for heavens sake. Seeking medical intervention made me feel weak and like a hypocrite almost. I could look at other people and feel proud of them for going, but for me, I felt like a failure. But I also knew I was working toward a real breakdown if I didn’t do something major to break the chain, if for no other reason than to talk to someone besides my poor husband, who was under enough stress living with me. I had to make a decision to help myself by any means necessary. Between the meds and talking to Amy, I feel like a new person. No, that’s not true. I feel like the old me. And the old me was no sissy. She made bold decisions for her future and took steps to make her dreams come true. She was happy and easygoing. I feel like that Katie again.
During that first session, we started talking about my major stress makers. The first thing we dealt with was our home life. She listened to me explain how I felt and finally said, “You’re basically trapped in your own house. No wonder you’re unhappy.” I hadn’t thought of it that way, but she’s right. I felt trapped. We have an outgoing, curious little boy that I’d love to take places and see things. The reality is we can’t even go out to eat because if he decides on the way that he doesn’t want to go, he makes it hell if you continue on. We’ve turned around on numerous occasions because it isn’t worth the stress. (To read more on those adventures see “Death Threats” in my previous blog posts.) Jamie and I had been throwing around the idea of having him professionally tested for ADHD, which his pediatrician believed he had, as well as anything else that might be causing his struggles in school and at home. Amy, my therapist, actually brought it up in a session on her own and I felt like that was a sign. She researched places and doctors and found someone to do the testing, which we are currently in the midst of. I just want to know for sure what we are working with and get some instruction on how to deal with it. Is he just spoiled or is there an underlying issue? That’s the question we ponder the most. Because it affects how you discipline and right now we feel a little stuck trying to decipher what we should be doing. The point being, we made a decision and moved forward which immediately removed some of the stress. We no longer have to worry about should we or shouldn’t we have tests done. Now we just have to see this through.
With that process started, we focused in on #2. That would be work. My job was basically overseeing the operations of the loan department at a bank. I worked to make sure everyone had what they needed to make the process work consistently across 5 branches. And I loved that job. I loved making a difference and being able to solve problems and see results. Some time in the last few years, it became work I tolerated. I wasn’t happy doing it anymore. Looking outside at the sunshine and realizing that I was stuck in an office wasn’t helping. If you don’t know, I have a BS in Agriculture, concentrated in animal science management. FYI, that’s not exactly banking friendly. I loved every minute of my time at UT Martin learning the ins and outs of agriculture. It was freedom. I was outside, working with animals that needed a caretaker, and it was physical labor. Yes, offices in winter and summer are nice. But there’s something about physically doing something and going to bed tired, but accomplished, at night that calls to me still. I felt trapped in my job.
When you’re working to removed stress from your life, there are things you can remove and things you can’t. I can’t get rid of my kid, nor would I want to, but I can get rid of a job that makes me unhappy. Yes, it’s going to hit us in the wallet for a while. Yes, I still get panicky. Yes, I feel guilty leaving my co-workers. Yes, I feel guilty my husband can’t be as free spending because I had to have a change. There is a big unknown future out there and that is both scary and exhilarating. I see so many possibilities and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was happier the minute I left. But I’m not a optimist by nature, so I also see all the problems and question my decision more often than I’d like. But through all of that, I have never had one twinge of a gut feeling that I made a mistake. I made the best decision for me and mine and that’s a fact. It was hard and it shocked a lot of people, but it was for the best. It’s amazing to me how much better the past few weeks have gone just having that stress off of me. I guess it’s true that if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy, because everyone seems more relaxed and happy.
Today I sit at my kitchen table in the sunshine looking out at our farm. I’m dreaming of possibilities while I watch Tuck play with Legos and listen to his non-stop stories. Scout comes up occasionally for some love and Pepper is under the table at my feet – I think he’s the happiest I’m home now. Oh, and I’m in my pajamas. This won’t be a typical day for me and especially not after my self-imposed break through the holidays. Soon Tuck will be back in school and I’ll be working on projects here and learning how I can help my father-in-law on the farm. I’ve got some classes I want to attend and people I want to visit. But today, I’m enjoying where I am on a day I could be stuck in an office. And it’s awesome.
** If you’re interested in more on my new adventures, check out my Facebook page The Double E Farm & Designs (@thedoubleEfarm)**