The Shoulds

A big struggle in my life right now is dealing with The Shoulds. I’m over it for the most part in certain areas – that I should talk like a lady, that I should have a certain body type – but there are bigger areas that I can’t shake it. Like when it comes to working.

I’ve obviously got some struggles with my health. Sometimes things are okay (not great, but okay) for a while and then BAM! I get hit with a big ass 2×4 and I’m down and out for a while. I have to be particular about how I use my time. Sometimes I can’t tell until it’s too late that something is going to steal all of my spoons.

The problem is that I have student loans. All those fancy letters weren’t cheap. When Mr. Lyndsy and I were getting to know each other, I told him that was my debt and that he wouldn’t ever be responsible for it. But here we are now. My health is such that I feel pretty gross a lot of the time. I work, but it’s not paying the loans. I can’t work in a traditional setting here because I wouldn’t have the protections I would back home. Even if I managed to not get fired for all the time I’d have to take off or because I can’t make it in before 10am, I wouldn’t be able to do anything EXCEPT work. My life would be look like this: Struggle to get up, get to work, work, go home, pass out.

Which brings me to my real issue: Do I have the right to have a life or should I force myself to work even if that’s all I could do? We live here to save money and saving would be severely hampered by me not working. If I were in the US, I probably would have already filed a claim for social security disability, and I don’t say that lightly. Because I don’t live in the US, I can’t do that, so it doesn’t matter anyway.

There’s a voice inside my head, I’ll call it MOM, that is yelling at me and saying, “Of course you should work! It is your responsibility to pay those loans. Your husband does not pay those for you! So what if you can do nothing else? Life is about sacrifice! And, are you really THAT sick?”

And then there’s another voice, quieter though, that says, “But how is that living? Is it even worth being around if that’s all you do?”

Then I end up in a downward spiral because I know that my body would suffer tremendously if I tried to work like I would need to in order to pay my loans. They work longer hours here and many jobs are 6 days per week. More than once I’ve thought something along the lines of, “If you can’t work, you shouldn’t be anymore. Do something about that.” Then I have to work to pull myself out of that dark place.

It makes me sad that I feel like my life doesn’t have value unless I’m sacrificing everything to work. Is that really an American value? Work at all costs? You have no value unless you work?

I didn’t ask for any of it. I don’t think my current conditions are my fault, I don’t think I did anything to cause them. I think my mom blames me for the diabetes, but science doesn’t exactly support her on that. I also don’t think I gave myself an autoimmune thyroid condition either (and I’m pretty sure this is what causes the crushing fatigue and brain fog that make my life hard). The neurosurgeon who did the spinal fusion surgery looked at my MRIs and said I was born with a bad back. (Back issues are what the vast majority of social security disability claims are for.)

And yet, I feel like I have to push myself anyway. I buy into the idea that I’m not THAT badly off, so I need to push myself to work. It can’t hurt my body that much, can it?