You know the story. Your baby dies-- a profound, ugly, messy, bloody wound. You nurse it, gradually you learn to live with it, you know, because you have to, yadda yadda. But that's not what this post is about.
And you know what happens after, too, the thousand tiny little cuts that follow. Family members who get pissed because you are not reveling in their joys or because you are not symapthetic enough to their grand tragedies, which, you know, don't seem that grand to you. Friends who somehow just can't find the time to call, or call because they just had to share the funniest thing their three year old just said. Strangers who say stupid things because they don't know, or because they just heard and react with a violent case of word vomit. And everyone who thinks they know just how you should be feeling by now (better) and what you should do to feel that way (follow their sage advice, naturally). But this too is not what this post is about.
What it is about is the unexpected ripples, the things you wouldn't have thought would have to do with your baby dying. For me, right now, it's my job. Lack thereof, actually. My last contract ran out in November, and I've been looking since. In my field, the jobs are mostly seasonal in start dates. So there was nothing for the spring semester, and now it looks like I didn't get anything for the fall either. More than a hundred people apply per position these days, and I am not looking beyond the area where we live, so it's not entirely unheard of for me to not have found anything yet. But it is unsettling, in the makes you see bleak scenarios kind of a way. There was also a crushing blow of a good interview and then not a peep for weeks, until finally a very pleasant rejection letter, all about a stellar group of candidates on the short list, which I made, and the tough decision, which they made.
I am one of the crazy people. I have what I see as a calling. And that means that I can't, still, see doing anything else. And dammit, I am good at this thing I do, at this thing I feel as my calling. Walking away, doing something else, it feels in no uncertain ways like giving up. Not just on this thing we call a career, but on myself, on what my definition, my understanding of myself is.
The ripple of this, the way it goes back to A's death, is that I was then in the middle of a one year position. I went back to work three weeks after A died, less than three after he was born. And I finished that year, somehow, cobbled through it, despite shit for attention span and a newly-acquired failure to care about a bunch of things in that job. I even put together a good piece of work by the end of it. But then I decided to take time off, to give myself breathing room. That was a wise choice. I should've stuck with it. I should've spent the time alternating between doing little and doing some of those projects around the house that sit on that looooooong term to-do list that always becomes way more long term than you mean it to. And then I should've looked for a position for next fall.
What I did instead was apply for that one position at the end of that summer, and I got it a couple of months into the fall. It seemed promising, it seemed like a great opportunity. But it didn't end up being that way. It ended up being far less challenging and interesting than it was supposed to be, and far less productive. Part of that was my fault, as I tend to get demotivated when what I am doing isn't interesting or challenging. Part of it was the hellish and medically complicated subsequent pregnancy. And none of it matters now. Because now I am looking for a job in a far worse economic climate than I would've been had I not taken this detour, and competing against a lot more people.
A week and a half ago I was in a complete funk. Now I am alternating between that and a stupidly stubborn determination to somehow get out of this hole I dug for myself, even if it means a long way around and a bunch of seasonal jobs with uncertain prospects along the way. I have a calling, and I don't know who I'd be if I gave up on it. I don't want to look over the edge of this particular cliff. I am too scared to look. But when the funk gets me, I am feeling like maybe I am already falling off that cliff, already midflight, already done for, and all that's left for me to do is to acknowledge the end.
What are some of the surprising ripples you have encountered so far? What has changed, for the better or for the worse, in places you didn't expect changes?