Friday, May 16, 2014

Who is Teresa?

I think I need to “find” who I am again. I was Ron’s caretaker for so many years that I kind of got lost in all of it. I don’t know who or what I’m supposed to be. What do I like? What should I be doing? My entire existence all these years was geared toward doing what I needed to do to make sure that he had the best quality of life that he could have. If he wanted something, I busted my rear figuring out how I could make it happen for him. The times I did take off for myself, he was constantly on my mind and I always had to make sure that I had one or two people lined up to take care of anything that might crop up. Almost every time I went out of town for anything, he either got sick right before, while I was gone, or when I came back. I just never knew when it would happen and it usually wasn’t a question of “if” – just when and how bad. I lived constantly on the edge of when the next big disaster was going to happen. Now, I’m just totally lost. Did I do enough? Should I have done more? Was it really his time or did I speed it up because I didn’t keep him at home? Did I prolong his life (suffering) because I did move him to a nursing home? Should I have had them work on him longer (they worked on him 50 minutes)? Did he give up because he thought I needed a break? Did he decide that I had given him permission to quit fighting?

I actually very nearly gave my notice at work last week. I didn’t feel like I was doing anyone any good and I could tell that my concentration was eroding and my focus just wasn’t there. I have always, always been a perfectionist and to think that I would be only capable of giving less than my all was just too much. I may not always give the impression that I’m a perfectionist, but I absolutely am my own worst critic. Not knowing what I’m supposed to know is something I have a very hard time forgiving myself for. I talked to my doctor on Friday and he suggested I apply for a LOA instead and take the time to grieve – get some grief counseling and move forward. A couple of co-workers helped me when I talked to them about it. One made me feel good because she said I was a valuable member of the team and she didn’t want to see me leave the company when all I needed was maybe a little time. Same with another... said he would hate if I left instead of allowing myself to heal. I didn’t want to become a “performance issue” so it’s either take the time now to do what I need to do or there may not be time later.

I’ve been told I’m a strong person and I always thought so, too but now I’m not so sure. I’m always strong for others but have never had to be strong for myself, I guess. I’ve always been the one others come to for help. I don’t have that for me so I have to look outside of myself to find it. When my boss showed up in my cube, I knew one of the ladies I’d spoken to had sent her to check in with me (LOL – I knew when she showed up that someone had put a bug in her ear, and that was OK). LT and I had a good talk. She said she knew I was a strong person and that I’d get through it. She appreciated that I understood how her hands would be tied if performance became an issue. I did, and I do. Most supervisors don’t enjoy giving negative marks to people if they can help it.

So, I’m scheduled to be off from May 19 through June 29 and I have my first counseling session next Wednesday. Unfortunately, because I had surgery last year and used 7.5 weeks of FMLA, I only have 4.5 weeks of “protected” leave. I didn’t know, but FMLA runs concurrently with approved short-term disability. I’m still eligible for short-term disability pay but my job is only protected through June 17. If I take the remaining time that has been approved, they don’t have to hold my job and can put me somewhere else, or they can just tell me they no longer need me. I need to decide if I can do enough healing in four weeks to come back on June 16 (which is two full weeks sooner than I planned), or run the risk of being unemployed at the end of June. I think it would be totally crappy if they say take the time you need, and then tell me they no longer need my services.

At this point, I’m not sure what I will do.