So the past few days I have been trying to get back to “normal” … whatever that means! Up until the middle of this past week, I have had my husband home for close to 7 months. We were an example of those affected by the current employment economy and it was tough, like really tough. But now we can exhale.
We kept riding the wave, week after week of interviews, rejection letters, no rejection letters, conversations, coffee dates, phone calls, conference calls all over the country. It was not fun. I learnt a few things about myself, and let me be clear, most of those few things weren’t fabulous!
What I learn over and over is that ultimately we walk a solo path, sure we have family and friends who support and love us (and ours are the best) but everyone has their own “stuff” and whilst we are all good in the immediate crisis, we are not so great at the ongoing trenches. I started to withdraw around the half way mark for a couple of reasons, I couldn’t bear the questions and the “oh yeah apparently the whole country is collapsing in the engineering and mining industry ”. Then on the flip side was those that didn’t ask anything, hardly at all, if ever.
Like anything in life, the unknown feels like the enemy. I kept trying to remain focussed on enjoying the upside of this experience and there were definitely many. But, there were days (oh there were days) when that little thing called “anxiety” would knock me down for a six. And I wasn’t happy about it …
I say it all the time, if we don’t do the work on ourselves and our marriages, then when the Tsunami’s of life hit, you can drown quickly. Who knew that in the first few weeks there would be arguments over the “styling” of the dishwasher … yes, you know how it should look when it is packed … or the cutlery drawer … forks, spoons, knives … in that order, left to right became a battle … we were buckling under the pressure.
As a wife, I was aware of many things I needed to consider, but mostly I knew for men, employment forms a huge part of their identity. So when this is taken out of the equation, they flounder. I know this also because I have counselled couples in this predicament and watched grown men sob in despair and distress, over lost homes, possessions, mental health but mostly self-esteem. It is very real, not to be underestimated and I was onto it in my home.
But for us wives, it’s no picnic either. I found myself the “encourager” always remaining positive, hopeful, saying all of the “right” things at every corner. But it wasn’t my truth all the time – yes I faked it! I faked it so much at the 11th hour, I was hit hard with a nasty case of shingles. I had been feeling so unwell, run down and just “flat”, clearly my immune system and emotional health had been living under enormous stress for months. One day I walked 10 metres across the hallway at my office and said to our local acupuncturist “I have shingles, can you help?” His response was priceless “Aren’t you the counsellor from across the hall? Uou must be a terrible one!!!” Ummmmm yup, so now I am sick, and looking for a new career – awesome!
So what do you do when you are walking the unknown of unemployment, health diagnosis, relationship struggles, financial strain, children’s issues, family dysfunction, consequences of choice … and every other challenge under the sun?
- You acknowledge the situation, become honest with yourself and others.
- You put things in place like people or things that help you detach from the issue to help give you perspective regularly.
- You build resilience.
- You reflect on the other times you have “made it through” and engage those habits.
- You take care of your body, mind and heart. Be fiercely protective even.
- You take stock of all of the good in your life, and dance around that regularly.
- You know that time has a way of moving, changing and dealing with you so trust it.
And the more difficult part …