I’ve been working at my new job for a couple weeks now. I’m part time and the longest shift I’ve worked has been seven hours. So far, so good. Sometimes I have to stop and stretch and sometimes I forget to take my meds. My body always tells me what I should be doing. I bring a small snack for when I have to take my naproxen and I’ve been trying to drink tea instead of soda, when I can. One night, I was so busy, I had to eat a jelly donut for dinner. Not the best dinner, but it allowed me to take my meds and get a couple (hundred? thousand?) calories, so I wouldn’t fall over.
The mental aspect of going back to work is just as hard as the physical. I write myself positive notes, and read them before I go in. “I am so grateful for this opportunity,” “I’m so happy to be working again,” “You are going to do great,” and “You got this.” I ALWAYS smile at myself in the mirror and say, “This is going to be fun!” If I have a setback, like a grumpy customer or something goes wrong, I just tell myself to shake it off. I read a great quote somewhere that I come back to: “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.” I just think of that, determine that I’m not going to let someone else’s sour mood affect me, and remind myself to be patient with myself and others.
I have a lot of former bank customers and former gas station customers that come in and that is always great. I love talking to people again. Then, I have someone come in who asks, “What happened?” as if the worst thing in the world is me, back at a gas station. I’ve had a couple of these. The first one was really tough and I felt a little defeated when he left. Then, today, as I was thinking about the interaction, I remembered a conversation I had right before he came in. One of my old gas station customers came in. Every day, when picking up my kids from school, I drive by a bench in front of the high school that is dedicated to her son, who died two years ago. Normally, I wouldn’t know what to say, but I offered my condolences anyway. We talked for awhile and then she thanked me for remembering him. She said, “I’ve found that for me, when he died, my world stopped, but for everyone else, it kept going.”
I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of losing a child. My losses were nothing in comparison. When I think about those first couple years after my diagnosis, I can relate to her description of the world stopping for me. I am so fortunate that I had Fibromyalgia and CFS, even my anxiety and depression. I didn’t have anything life-threatening, my family and children are healthy. The experience was in no way easy for anyone in my life. I’m so fortunate that I have such a supportive and understanding family, friends and husband. I might be starting over, and I’m definitely not making what I made in the bank, but I’m confident that I’m right where I am supposed to be.
Tonight, when I had my second, “What happened?”, I smiled, said “I was sick, but now I’m better.” and left it at that. I don’t have to explain and not everyone is going to get it anyway.