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March 16, 2004

I’ve been thinking about careers today and how lost I feel career-wise. I couldn’t believe how full of…despair (!) I felt after our regional meeting today. I was listening to S talk about developing a new “product” – providing respite for kids with autism. All I could think was, “Why in God’s name do the PCs have to develop new company products? We’re already the company work horses.” I don’t know why it makes me so frustrated – maybe because there is no possibility of upward mobility at D. Maybe because I just feel so underwhelmed in general by this job. And I know I’m not approaching this in a very productive way. I certainly haven’t done anything concrete about looking for a new job. It’s all tied up in my mind with the next few years and having children…I can’t separate anything into its own compartment. My internal argument goes something like this: “I should stay at D because my schedule is so flexible and because I can accrue so much paid time off.” If I am truthful with myself it is because of those two reasons only that I stay at D. For whatever reason, I don’t have an emotional in the ladies’ at B. That’s not to say I don’t care about them – I do – but my focus is professional and not personal. I hate this job. I need this job. I don’t know what the best thing to do is. I thought today that except for a brief time at A, no job has made me feel good about myself or important. I feel wounded and defensive about jobs in general. I know my own limitation in terms of jobs and those limitations almost always have to do with interpersonal relationships. I cannot keep my face from betraying my real thoughts about something. I get resentful and defensive very easily. I make decisions and judgments based on how things should be to the exclusion of the way things actually are. If I’m truthful, I don’t like the work me. Thinking about that actually makes me want to cry.

Thinking about this has made me feel anxious and full of despair all day long. I realize that despair is a rather melodramatic word, but it pretty accurately describes how I feel. I used to manage this anxiety with wine. The extent to which I did that is becoming clear to me as I approach the 1 ½ month drink and smoke free mark. The weekend before last I had a good conversation/break down with Steve where I talked out loud about how numb I’d been for the last few years and how sorry I feel for myself – I actually mean that in a caring way, not a pitying way – I feel so badly for how bad I was feeling. And I certainly understand why I used wine to dull the feelings – they’re pretty bad. So, now that I don’t have that as a manager, I’m slowly beginning to “thaw” out and it’s very painful. I’m feeling things that I avoided feeling or dealing with, and often it makes me very sad.

I don’t know if everyone has a small hole inside them that just won’t get filled, or if its unique to me. What I mean, I think, is that I wonder if the rest of the world has what feels like to me excessive self doubt – especially at the age of 29. Whether valid or not, I think that I should be beyond that at this point. And then, when I think that exact thought, I also think that I wish I could free myself of comparisons to the rest of the world. I wish I could measure and celebrate myself in relation to myself and not in relation to other people. I wish there was a class I could take to do that.

I went over and over (the treadmill again) ideas for new jobs/career, with no new results. Should I go back to school? Should I try to do something out of the house? I know that would make me happy. I used to accept the fact that I thought I was just someone who worked because I had to, not because I had any real calling, but now that isn’t enough to keep to me plugging away.

In a book by Marya Hornbacher she cites a commentary on today’s woman, and how, instead of feeling emancipated by the freedoms that the feminist movement has won us, we feel overwhelmed – that because we have the choice to do what we want to now, we feel that we have to something spectacular or we’re wasting that choice. I found that statement to mirror so closely how I feel. It even relates in a backwards way to the very secret fantasy I have had of living in another era – a long time ago before women were granted all the freedoms and rights that we have today. The reason I think I have that fantasy is not so much because I relish the idea of being disenfranchises and oppressed, but because to get ahead, I would have had to use the skills I’m just naturally more adept at as a woman – emotional intelligence – and I guess, let’s face it, sex, to get what I might have wanted in this hypothetical world. I’m not describing my fantasy very well, it actually has a lot more validity than I’m conveying here. And it doesn’t make things any clearer in my mind when I put it along side that the fact that I am a feminist. I would never want the world to backwards in that regard in all reality, but in my fantasies I think about it.

Which brings me back to – what do I want to do when I grow up? This concern is tied into having children. When I get pregnant, I think I am going to want to work only part time (this a radical, radical, statement for me. It wasn’t very long ago that I wouldn’t even have entertained the thought of NOT working full time), which means that money will be tight and I don’t know how Sand I will navigate that. I did broach the subject with him the other night – really just saying I wanted him to think about what he would like to do with our finances – keep them as separate as they have been or merge them more. I told him I would be thinking about it too. He said, “It seems to me that those kinds of things will just fall into place down the road.” Which is such a S thing to say. We once had a conversation about day care and that he really didn’t like the idea of it, that our schedules could be worked so that a child wouldn’t have to go to day care, etc. It was an interesting conversation, although alarming to me at the time since at that point I couldn’t really conceive (no pun intended) of the idea of having children. And while the feminist in me is rolling over, it has occurred to me that maybe I feel so unfulfilled because I’m ready to have children. I don’t have a clear path, or direction, guiding me. I wanted to write “I’m so confused.” But I don’t think that is accurate.

Of course, what is over shadowing all of these thoughts is the bald fact that I am virtually friendless. I have acquaintances and colleagues that are friends, but I don’t have that core group of girlfriends that I used to have. That is another reason I’m so sad, and I think another reason I needed to avoid feelings for so long. Because the loss of those friendships hurts very badly. I suppose I had better address that somehow, but right now just feeling so badly about it is taking up my energy. I’m working on the assumption that it is at least good to feeling something again, even if its hurt. I’ll be badly off if I’m wrong about that.

A-ha’s “Take on Me” is on the radio right now, and wow does that take me back to Cameroun – playing with the Norwegians, with Moyfrid and especially with Audhild. The Christmas before last, when I went to mom and dad’s, we watched the videos of the last years in Carmeroun. My pose and centeredness on these videos is alarming in a 13 year old. I was so graceful and serene. That Christmas I thought that maybe I had reached the peak of who I was as a person when I was 13. Maybe that was the best I will ever be. I tried to reach out to D with that thought in a random email because I thought he’d be the one person who would understand that feeling, but the email was lost. I did eventually end up sharing that with him, and of course he propped my ego up, but he doesn’t live inside my head. I do still suspect that my best self is in the past. I don’t want it to be that way, but I have no idea how to change my own mind about that.

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