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Winter’s Discontents

Probably the last picture I have of my father and me together. This was his 50th birthday.

The afternoon light is lasting visibly longer now, though winter stubbornly remains. February yields to March only after a twelve-hour snowfall, and more is predicted on and off for the next few days. As I drove home from yet another doctor’s appointment yesterday, the air was heavy with snow that had yet to fall, and I had the rare occasion to spot both a snowy owl and some kind of hawk, their sightings a special gift of the bare trees of winter. It is, I grudgingly admit, not all bad.

Today is my father’s birthday. It closes out what has traditionally been my darkest month of the year for decades now. My father would be in his 90s, but he died nearly forty years ago this month at the same age I am now. I know that the arc of what might have been changed that day. His passing was the first in a series of big endings that would happen in the next few years. I know my life would have been different, but I also sometimes wonder if I would have been more successful with his support; emotional, monetary, or otherwise.

This year is something of a marker for me; another ending. Health problems have pushed me out of a mildly successful career, and though I expect eventually to be healthy enough to work again, I’m not sure I want to return to exactly what I was doing. Learning design has changed a lot in recent years, largely for the better, but a lot of companies are simply looking for people to do software training which is not what I want to be doing anymore. Five years of working on management and diversity and inclusion learning and development have spoiled me for any kind of rote learning or simple practice exercises. I want to be doing videos, telling stories, helping people learn from their own experiences and responses. I need to do something that’s more creative and I’m not sure I want that to be a corporate endeavor.

So although this is an ending of sorts, I am also determined that it be a beginning as well. My challenge is finding a new launching point. Before I can get a foot in the door, I have to know what the right door is.

Since the Fall, I feel like I pared back everything I was doing. I stopped working, dropped out of the committees I was on in town. I’m really hesitant to take on anything new, because I’m afraid to commit to something I’ll lose either interest or energy for. I can get a few productive hours most days, but there are days I’m barely able to shower and get dressed. I can’t remember ever feeling like this before. This is a different kind of broken than I was when I lost my dream job more than five years ago, and I have a sinking feeling that not even something like that would interest me now.

Back in September, I asked my primary care doctor for an antidepressant prescription to help me combat the anxiety I’d been experiencing that I felt was causing my panic attacks. Soon after I started taking it, a lot of the circumstances that made me feel under siege started to resolve themselves. It’s hard for me to know how much the medication contributed to my feeling better and how much it was just the ups and downs of life.

I also asked for help in finding therapists in my area. I got a list of four, two of them look like they might be a good fit. I’m going to make some calls tomorrow. I’ve never had to do this before, actually I’ve never had the time between working and commuting, so I hope I can find someone to help me build myself back up.

I am determined to have that “second half” of life that my father didn’t get, and I want to put it to good use. I have some ideas about the kind of life I want to live post-transplant, and I want to know how to prepare that path.

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