Off the Rails

06May14

It’s no secret that life isn’t easy. Life can downright suck sometimes. For me, it’s been a lot of the time. I can completely pinpoint the moment my world started caving in. February 2011 – the day my father lost his job.

Up until then, I was carefree, loving life, thinking I could take over the world. I had started my first “big girl” job, moved into my own place (with housemates) and started a serious relationship (which was huge for this commitment phobe). I had been in a flux since graduation and things were finally headed in the right direction.

And then I got that phone call. And my entire world turned upside down.

My father had worked at the same place for 25+ years, starting at the bottom and working his way up. Through new management, he was edged out, and one day told he either needed to resign or be terminated. Just like that. There was nothing he could do, nothing anyone could say. It was complete boo-hockey in my opinion and completely crushed my dad. We sued for unlawful termination based on discrimination, but it didn’t really do anything. I watched as my father fell farther and farther into this black hole and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I helped my parents any way I could – signed dad up for unemployment, created dad a resume and applied to as many jobs as I could think of. No takers. Each rejection was like another dagger into my dad and he turned to drinking. I didn’t tell anyone. I couldn’t tell anyone. My dad was my pillar and he was slowly crumbling and I had no idea how to help him.

Everything I knew about my boring, perfect life was gone.

After that, we were hit with one thing after the other. We lost our beloved family dog, which made dad fall deeper in his black hole. My mom’s health kept declining from all the stress. My sister had a nervous breakdown and finally confided in me that she was suffering from severe depression with thoughts of physical harm. All of it fell on my shoulders. Everyone came to me looking for a solution. I somehow had to navigate the waters for everyone, and it took everything in me to stay afloat.

It’s been three years, and I feel we are still picking up the pieces. My dad found a new career choice, but is having difficulty finding employment. Thankfully, the drinking has stopped. We sought help for my sister and she is thriving – studied abroad, is graduating college in May and is ready to take over the world. My mom is working way too hard, and she needs to slow down. My dad is more determined than ever to find full-time employment so mom doesn’t have to keep going like she does. My parents do their best to make everything seem like it’s the same, but nothing is the same. That one incident shook my family to the core. I constantly worry they are going to lose the house or something goes wrong with their health. I hate that I can’t do more for them, I hate that I can’t make their mortgage go away or provide more assistance. I am just not at a place where I can. To be completely honest, there is barely enough money in my own home right now.

J and I have been going through some rough stuff, and some days I’m ready to throw in the towel. Him going to school has been a huge stressor in our relationship. I am proud of him for doing what he loves, but it leaves me carrying a lot of the burden at home. And I have become resentful in certain aspects. I don’t want to be the only responsible one anymore. I don’t want to be the one to constantly stress about the bills or the groceries or if the house is clean. He’s going to school, but I am working just as hard and there are times I don’t feel like I have a partner in any of this. I know I need to just hold out until the end of the semester, but I’ve been holding out for three years. It never feels like it’s going to end.

Outside of my family, I struggle with being “that person” for everyone else in my life. My friends, my boyfriend – I am the person they turn to to fix things. I am the one that will make everything better. Please don’t get me wrong, I love being that person and helping anyone I can. But my load has gotten very heavy and continues to get heavier. There isn’t an “off” button for me. I feel like I’m constantly going from one issue to another. If I am not dealing with an issue, I’m stressing about another one.

And without fail, just when I think things are going well, the other shoe will drop and I am sent into a tailspin. I barely dig myself out of one problem before I’m buried in another one. I can’t prepare for the future because I’m too busy putting out the daily fires.

It’s gotten to the point that I can’t cope anymore. I am moody all the time, my attitude changes at the drop of a hat, I’m not sleeping, I can’t concentrate… I’m going through the motions and I’m drowning. My life is off its rails and I need help to get it back on track.

So, I made a call. My company has some amazing tools for employees – one of which is an Employee Assistance Program. It is a third party organization that helps you when you need it, all anonymously. Through this, they have set me up with a counselor of my choosing. I am in the process of setting up my first session. I have never done anything like this before and it scares me. Part of me still feels the negative stigma associated with “seeing a professional.” Part of me feels like I should be able to handle my problems myself. I keep having to remind myself that it is not a sign of weakness. Sometimes, it takes more strength to ask for help than it does to keep pushing through.

I’m ready for that helping hand.

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