Have you ever looked in the mirror and not even recognized yourself anymore?
That’s how I feel. I don’t even recognize this person anymore. This year has been so challenging and it’s pretty much stripped away all of my best qualities, to the point where I feel like a tired old lady just ready to live with my cats and wither into dust. My finances are a mess, thanks to layoffs and lesser paying jobs, and the lack of child support. Every time I have to say no, I just feel bad. Parents should be able to afford a Slurpee, or a trip to McDonald’s, without counting all of the crack change. I should be able to send my eleventh grader lunch money. I should be able to go shopping for cute winter clothes. But instead, I’m always saying “next time,” and I know deep down they resent me because next time never comes. I’ve cut out everything that brings me any semblance of joy except for my morning cup of tea and even then, I don’t get one three days a week because I was putting money away for Xmas. I haven’t been to the gym in forever but I never picked up my shoes. I felt like if I did, it was defeat, that I would never go back. I don’t go out with my friends. Hell, I barely text. Also, if you’re my friend, I’m sorry I suck at communicating. I hate my weight, my hair, my skin, everything about my appearance and I just feel like I’ve failed at pretty much everything. It’s been a struggle to get out of bed some days. The cup isn’t half full or half empty; it’s just empty.
I suppose the last two years has taken its toll. There’s only so much you can give of yourself before you have nothing left, like the giving tree. And it’s only so long before you snap. I had two of those moments. The first one was when I needed coverage at work for a family emergency and I was told there was no one. Something in my brain snapped. For years I helped EVERYONE. Needed a shift covered? MHC. Needed help with staffing? MHC. Sick days? psh! I ONLY TOOK ONE DAY OFF FROM WORK WHEN I ALMOST DIED! And yet, the universe said “no one wants to go to where you are,” while I cried at work needing help. I called one of my colleague friends and bawled because he is an Angel sent from God. He found me some help and I could go home. But the whole way I was enraged. I loved my colleagues. I’m forever grateful to my DM for giving me a job, but I realized in that second I was right back where I was last year; trapped in a job I had to devote every second of myself to. I wanted to give my DM that person, but I don’t have it in me to give anymore. She deserves a top performer who can give her that level of buy in.
So I quit.
I found a new job with a living salary and more work life balance. I gave my notice and starting next month, I can stop selling phones once and for all and do a job that allows me to use my skills; training, development, and support. I’m excited. I was shocked I got it tbh. Do you know how many awesome candidates are looking for work? And I’m just me. But it’s a much needed change. I’ll be able to see my kids and clean my house. Maybe pet my cats. Maybe go on more dates and finally see my friends. I haven’t hung out with one of my best friends since July. It sucks dude. It’s gonna be nice to do stuff with my people again starting with the annual holiday party.
But, that was just one moment of clarity, the other came when I was a casualty of the Great War, AKA the battle to see my Lord and Saviour, Taylor Allison Swift.
I haven’t been anywhere in years. I couldn’t even go to my friend’s wedding. My kids are tired from school, teen pressures, and helping take care of their grandma when I’m at work. They deserved a trip. The opening act (Gracie Abrams) is my 15yo’s fave non Taylor performer. So I socked away every cent I had for nosebleeds. I gave up every minor luxury I have, banked the rest. I knew the tour was coming and I was going to come through. I had Verified Fan access that was supposed to carry me to the presale. I would use my income tax refund for flight and hotel, and for once, I wasn’t gonna say no. I was going to give them this one thing for Xmas and our Taycation was going to be magical. Instead, I got this.
My heart broke as the tire fire known as ticketmaster shut me out. I went to stubhub only to have my life ruined. My tiny little amount for our four shitty nosebleeds couldn’t even cover one ticket, let alone four. I had to say no again. No Taycation. No happy kids at Xmas that mom came through. Just another time I had to disappoint them. Between my work schedule, and my bank balance, and the realization that I wasn’t coming through for them, my brain broke again.
I COMPLETELY understand this is a first world issue. I am well aware that not taking my kids to see Taylor Swift won’t ruin my life. But it was just another no. Another “not this time.” I know it wasn’t my fault, and Ticketmaster is the dirt worst, but suddenly all of those times I had to say no flooded my brain; the slurpees, the tacos, the new shirt, that used CD, the discounted book, the hair dye, all of it. Every next time, or I’m sorry we don’t have it, every one just flashed through my eyes like a death scene in a movie, ending with the emptiness that this concert that meant so much to them was now, just another no. So I sat in my car and cried. I’d tell myself it’ll be okay, but we all know it’s not. It’s another thing I couldn’t do while the parents around me take their kids to Mexico for spring break and buy concert tickets for good grades. I moved them to a more affluent area and sometimes barely make rent, but I did it so they’d get a better education. But now they see how much more their friends parents can do for them. They’re good kids. They get good grades. They help at home, and are good to their friends and cats. But I let them down spectacularly every day and it just sucks.
After I was done my crying and generally being miserable, wallowing in how 2022 has been the absolute worst. It challenged me physically, mentally, and I’ve lost so much financially and I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I used to take so much pride in my appearance, in my work ethic, and in my life. Now, I just don’t care. I dug a hole and I couldn’t get out. Getting a new job is awesome, but I need to fix me or I’m just transferring the misery. So, I got to work. I deep cleaned my house. I started working out at home. I called a credit counsellor to work through my debt, whether it’s through a debt management program or a consumer proposal. It sucks, but it’s what I need to do. If I don’t have to stress about money as much, little things won’t get to me, and there will be fewer instances of no. I started getting up earlier and actually wearing makeup again. I started going to bed at a reasonable time. Also, I started forgiving myself for the things I’ve been beating myself up about. I can’t change that I got laid off. I can’t fix that I put on weight because I couldn’t work out for five months. I can’t change the fact that Ticketmaster sucks. But what I can do is change my situation. I can keep watching stubhub and seat geek for cheap resale tickets. I can keep an eye for Canadian dates. I can make time to work out. I can focus on budgeting smarter with the help of the counsellor. That will help me have more money to go to the gym and say yes to a few of those smaller things. I can go into my new job motivated and excited. I can continue to focus on being a present and active parent. These are things I can change.
While the answers aren’t ideal, at least there feels like a light at the end of the tunnel, except for the Taylor Swift tickets. That shit is just hopeless. But I will be able to look in the mirror in a few months and recognize who I’m looking at, and maybe even like that person too.