Jumping the Gun

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Alice

Two weeks. It took every bit of two weeks to adjust to the idea that I could embrace a new opportunity that fell into my lap. An opportunity that I didn’t even know that I wanted.

A few months ago, my frustration at the low wages and dysfunction of my current work environment led me to apply for a position in a new facility. A friend of mine was employed there and she had been encouraging me for months to give it a shot. One day, she hand delivered me the application, I filled it out, dropped it off and promptly forgot about it…until they called to set up an interview.

Suddenly, what was a fleeting notion became very, very real. My first thoughts were about my folks. I’ve been caring for them for nearly 7 years! I BLEW THE WHISTLE in order to save them from terrible owners and cold showers! How can I just ABANDON them?! How can I just walk away from my co-workers; the good ones who trudge forward through the challenges? Can I actually put my own needs for a decent working wage and benefits above their needs for quality care and consistency from a caregiver they trust? It was a maelstrom of conflicting and deeply held thoughts and emotions.

Thanks to the support of friends and family, I slowly came around and warmed up to the idea. Friends said that I’ve EARNED this chance, that I’ve worked very hard and it is an opportunity to love some new people. They said I can visit my folks and it’s time to try something new, to not have to struggle quite so much financially to do what I love.

By interview day, I was equally torn between the excitement of a new opportunity and the heartbreak of leaving my current folks, but I had reached the conclusion that it will always be heartbreaking to move on for me. I am a person who invests my heart fully, but just because it is difficult doesn’t mean it’s not the right choice.

I left the interview elated. They all but showed me in writing that I had the job. I was open and honest, I made eye contact and smiled. I had the perfectly pressured hand shake. I even wore jewelry. I spoke with passion and humor about why I love being a direct care worker. I NAILED it.

The next few days went by in a blur of work and outside commitments. In between activities, I would find myself planning for a life on third shift; my mind leaping ahead, despite my best efforts to not put the cart before the horse. The facility is huge and beautiful. Two more dollars an hour means less Ramen noodles. I was even planning out a visitation schedule so my folks would know that I’m still a part of their lives and what I would put in my written two week notice to my current employers.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got a call saying that they are sorry, but they went in another direction. I was completely dumbfounded. Somehow, I managed to thank them for their time before the wave of crushing disappointment washed over me. That’s when the “what ifs” kicked in, quickly followed by the “whys”. What if I’m no good at this? Why don’t they want me? What if my flaws are all anyone ever sees? Why did they lead me to think I had the job? What if I always have to struggle so much? Don’t they KNOW the emotional roller coaster this has been?

After a few glorious hours of reveling in my own misery and boohooing, I stopped, took a deep breath and reassessed the situation. The whys and what ifs do not matter. It is what it is. I owe myself more than picking myself apart because I didn’t get a job. And no, of course they didn’t know the emotional roller coaster I was on. Even if they did, it is not their responsibility to tip toe around it. Plus, I have a job; a job that I love despite the dysfunction. The pay is pathetic but money follows purpose.

For whatever reason, it’s simply not time for me to leave yet. There is joy that I still get to be there for my folks. I’ve been making it so far and Ramen noodles can actually be tasty if you doctor them up a bit. It was both a humbling and eye opening experience. I know now that when the time comes, I will be able to move on, as difficult as it may be, but part of me is very grateful that the time isn’t today.