Finding Purpose

I feel like my life is without purpose.

For years I knew what my (at least immediate) purpose in life was: be an engineer. Maybe not earth-changing, but I could go to work, do something I was proud of doing and good at and enjoyed, see tangible things happen (structures built, others modified, places made safer and/or more enjoyable and/or more functional), and take pride in what I was doing with my life. I spent 6+ years working for/living this dream, first obtaining my degrees and working multiple internships, and then starting my job as a full-time engineer.

I was good at it. It gave me purpose. I was proud to say to people, “I’m an engineer(ing student).” I had hobbies and friends and things to do “for fun,” but that main purpose in my life was there.

I kinda forgot about the whole “being sick” thing in that plan.

To be honest, I didn’t realize how sick I was, until I tried to lead a normal, adult life.

And couldn’t.

I just couldn’t. I used to never get sick. Really. I didn’t get sick. Before a year ago, I literally cannot remember ever throwing up (though I’m sure I did when too young to remember). While working at my job, I got sick more and more often. Until I almost always had something minor going on. I threw up for the first time in memory. I would develop all kinds of colds and flus and other things…which doesn’t seem that major, until compared to how I never got sick before. The stress combined with my illnesses killed my immune system. And it just kept getting worse.

I was so exhausted I couldn’t function. There were days I would walk home from the transit center because I was scared that, if I drove, I would crash. I couldn’t carry on basic conversation. I couldn’t do basic addition. Standing was more effort than I had. Hell, smiling was more effort than I had.

I remember the first Monday after I left my job. I’d slept all weekend. And Monday. My husband came home. And just stared at me in shock. I asked why. And he said to me, “Eileen, when I walked in the door, you smiled at me. You said hello. You’re standing here, in the kitchen. Not only that, you’re preparing food. You have not done any of those things in months, at least.”

My heart broke.

How had I been such a horrible wife, lover, and companion for so long? How had he stayed with me, supported me, loved me through all those months of getting virtually nothing in return?

Really, I couldn’t function.

And it wasn’t a physical disability causing it.

It’s mental and invisible ones. Ones that “don’t count.” Ones that “I’m just making up.” Ones that, quite frankly, make me feel like I’m just weak, or not trying hard enough. Because there’s nothing tangible I can point to, on my body, or on a piece of paper, and say, “That’s it! That’s what’s causing this!”

When I look back, it’s good I left. It is. I know that. And I know that there is, likely, no way I can ever go back. I cannot imagine ever having this under control enough to be able to work a regular, 40-hour a week job, with 2 weeks of vacation a year.

I am crying just writing that. Because I feel like such a failure. I feel like the lowest of the low, just making excuses, just not wanting to man up and be an adult.

But really, some part of me knows that I can’t. I just can’t. I will kill myself if I do, by killing my immune system and wearing out my body. I cannot do it.

I cannot.

(Or maybe I’m just too weak)

So.

Here I am.

Now what?

I spend my days sleeping. I sleep 10-12 hours a day (unless I am woken early by something random). I spend a lot of time doing nothing. Pissing the time away. Watching TV, being on the computer, etc. I occaisionally clean, or go grocery shopping, or cook, but it’s hard to dredge up enough caring and energy to do it (I know this is a common problem, who wants to cook or clean???). I work, at my various jobs, randomly. 17 hours a week at the pet store. 8-ish hours a week training. 6-ish hours a week tutoring. Another tutoring job about to start. My hubby works all day, and we both have evening things, so it’s hard to get a lot of quality time together.

So yeah, not a lot to feel proud of there.

My training is fun. And great. But quite frankly, I don’t know if I want to grow it much bigger than it is. I already never see my hubby…and I can really only hold classes in the evenings. There just aren’t enough people during the day. I guess my point is, I can’t do a lot with training during the day. And given that, training is not going to become a major part of my life, or a major purpose in my life. It is a great side job, a great hobby, but it is not enough to give my life purpose on its own. Or, at least, I can’t see how it could be. I thought it would be, but I’m realizing that just isn’t happening.

Tutoring is fun, but it’s mainly for money. I love the math, but it’s not a calling of mine to help people with their homework. It’s mainly just a money-maker.

Working at the store is fun (for now), but…it’s retail. I’m sorry, but I am not one of those people who is happy working at retail forever and ever. If you are, that is great, and I am happy for (and jealous of) you, but I’m not. It’s a great transitionary, temporary job for me. And quite frankly, it gets me out of the house and talking with people. I feel like I have a little community there, of like-minded, friendly people who I like to talk to and hang out with. It’s the only community I have at the moment. The job is great. But it’s not a purpose. It’s not something I can stand up and say I’m proud to do. Fun? Yes. But something I can pin my identity on, that can give me purpose even in part? No.

I just….think there’s not a lot for me to feel proud of in my life right now. I still feel humiliated I had to leave my job (it is hard for me to even write “had” to, because I scream at myself that I was just lazy and wanted to). Dog training is something that is cool…but it’s not enough to stand on its own. And there’s nothing else.

And when I don’t feel proud of what I’m doing with my life, it’s hard to take pride in anything else.

I feel like I’m in transition. But it’s not transition to anything.

I quit my job so I could get healthy. Then I could get back to life. That was the plan.

But I’m realizing that I will never be healthy. I just need to learn to cope with what I’ve got.

And I don’t know what life I’ll be “getting back” to. I can’t go back to my old line of work. I have no real purpose I can throw myself in to.

I have always viewed myself as having a full-time job (at least until I had kids). I can’t do that. I can’t. But I don’t know how to leave that vision behind. How to take pride in where I am now.

And I can’t come up with anything else I would be proud to do, certainly not that I could do with the preparation I have. And, since I left my job, I don’t have the money to go through a bunch of preparation for something new (whoever says “You can do whatever you want with any college degree!” is full of **it. I can be an engineer. Or I can be an unskilled worker. The degree you get matters). Plus, if I want to have kids within the next couple years, there’s no time to go through preparations and get into a job, just to leave it with a baby for awhile.

I have no pride in where I am. And I can’t see where I can go that I can take pride in. This is weakness. I need to grasp where I am, I need to be proud of it, I need to find the good and the great where it is and focus on that!

But on a gut level, I’m having a hard time with that.

And when I am not feeling pride in my life, when I am feeling embarrassed when anyone asks me what I do, or when I look at my days, it’s hard to get the motivation to do the little things.

Cooking.

Cleaning.

Even running my freaking business.

Hell, even getting up off the god-damned couch!

It’s pathetic. It’s weakness. But I don’t know how to get over it.

I’m not sure how to pull myself out of this rut. But I’ve got to find a way.

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9 Comments

Filed under Life, Pour Your Heart Out

9 responses to “Finding Purpose

  1. **HUG** I hate feeling completely at a loss as to where I’m supposed to be in life.

  2. I assume that since this has been going on for a while that you have talked to a doctor about it? As I said in my post today I’ve resisted anxiety meds but I am on an antidepressant and it made a HUGE difference in my ability to cope! Besides which it occurs to me that if you add up all those part time jobs of yours (and the time you spend running from one to another) … you’re working full time! Maybe you need to cut back for your own health and sanity?

    • I have been on meds in the past. The first round had side effects I’m not willing to accept. The second round (and only type without those side-effects) was far less effective. I took them for awhile, and then decided I was sick of it. They weren’t doing me enough good, I’d have to get off them to have kids (which I’d like to do before too long), so I went off and started trying to find other ways to deal.

      But that means I’m back to bad days really sucking again, instead of being just bad.

      And yes, I’m working a lot :P I enjoy it a lot more now, which helps, and they’re far less stressful, but income is important… There’s nothing I really want to cut out at the moment, but I’m keeping an eye on it.

  3. Sounds like you are going through a lot. You’ll figure out what you want to transition to.

    I didn’t see you link up yesterday. Don’t forget to add your link to Pour Your Heart Out to get some more visitors to read your story.

  4. Eileen, honey, I SO FEEL EVERY LAST WORD OF YOUR POST. As I’ve alluded to before, we are incredibly alike. I wish there were people in this world that simply understood how I feel, and by God you certainly do. I don’t feel like this all the time, but a great deal of it. I, too, will be leaving my current (more than) full-time profession. I’m burned out, I HATE it, it’s more stress than it’s worth. I’m nervous about how we’ll make ends meet, anxious to put my efforts into something with a possibility of leaving a legacy for today’s youth. While I have chosen a “going to,” I understand that may not be exactly what my purpose is, but I’ll go with it for now, and continue to pray that I’ll be where God wants me to be. Hang in there kiddo!

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