I organized; I cooked. Two months in a row sticking to my plan isn’t too shabby! Alas, no research happened in March. But lots of work nonetheless. If I had known at the start of this year that I would be taking on another job, I probably would have changed 2014′s theme from Do ALL THE THINGS! to Just Stay Alive. I know working Monday through Wednesday from 8:30-3:15 doesn’t sound like a ton, but oh goodness, this has been a hard change!
I managed it pretty well in March, but April has been another story. I’ve been sick almost every day in April, even missing a whole week of work. I think I have taken for granted my relative good health these last couple of years and forgotten how grinding more intense chronic pain, sickness, and insomnia gets. It has been a struggle to not slip into a depression after the last two and a half weeks. (I should probably reread this post.) Working out of my house, which I haven’t done in a rigid way since probably 2005, certainly adds an extra layer of stress when I’m feeling ill. At 4:30 am it really doesn’t help to keep telling myself, “You have to sleep. You have to get up in 3 hours . . . 2 hours . . . 1 hour.”
Despite all that, my new job is a good combination of great coworkers (I think that has all but solved my need for a social outlet in our town), direct service, and repetitive paperwork. I know some people hate paperwork, but for me, the paperwork is essential. I love the precision element of it — my paperwork can be nearly perfect with effort, even if the lives of my clients (and all humans, obviously) are always messy. And I love the space it offers to decompress after those difficult meetings. But even in those difficult meetings — like the one with someone whose husband had abandoned her after a particularly messy fight several days before, in which I had to find a way to gently express that breaking things throughout the house is in fact a sign of domestic violence even if he didn’t break her — there is something refreshing in comparison to prison work. Because I can always help them, somehow. Even if it’s just a bag of food from our Food Pantry or a pack of diapers or a small gift card to the local market, I know I can always send them away with a tangible thing that will make them feel a little more hopeful about the future. Not to mention a hug or supportive touch on the arm. Human touch is valuable; it’s only in replaying all these meetings, first with my incarcerated men and now with these men and women, that I see how different a meeting is in which we often could not even shake hands.
I need to go back to work tomorrow despite still not being in the best shape physically. Writing this out made that prospect feel just a little bit easier.