I am at the end of this job search. Not because I have an offer on the table, but because I believe that no one will hire me. Not through conventional means. I’ve applied to 105 jobs in 18 months and haven’t heard a damn thing. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I did get one call back for a state position in Sacramento, but she needed me to drive there to take a 20 minute Excel exam before being considered for an interview. I turned it down because my first IUI was scheduled for either the next day or the day after. Those were the only two days I could do the exam. That was after my first batch of state applications, and I was confident that more would follow, because, after all, my test scores put me in the first rank for every job category I was applying for. That’s funny. I recently spoke to the director of the career services center at my alma mater. She loved my documents and thought that I would have no problems at all in securing a job. Also funny.
I was supposed to have a baby today. Instead of feeling a baby shift and move, instead of feeling contractions, I feel my ovaries stretching and yawning. Getting ready to ovulate.
Today was meant to be joyous and remarkable. A day to remember for all of our lives. Instead, it is a day just like all the others filled with jobs applications and empty errands.
Today was supposed to be it. The end of a painful journey. Little did I know that March was just the beginning filled with dark nights and darker days.
It was supposed to be today.
While in Nebraska visiting family over the 4th, I went to a small, local water park with some slides, a lazy river, and lots of water park fun for the wee tots. I didn’t just go, to go, but to have fun with my nieces and nephews of which there are 9 between the ages of 2 and 10. Believe it or not, I’m not the only infertile in my family.
I opted in on the long and slow slide with lots of dips and curves, and I also bravely subjected myself to the “toilet bowl” slide, much to many’s amusement. The plunge slide, a staple of most water parks, beckoned from afar. You know, the slide that plunges straight down with great speed before hitting a level plane where you are eventually slowed down by the water you have slid into? The slide where parts and bits are lost to the sheer velocity of the ride combined with the resistance of the water at the end? That’s the one.
I eyed the slide from afar. I circled the slide. The eldest nieces and nephews taunted me and my lack of fortitude. But I refrained. I allow every RE, ultrasound tech, MA, and RN in California see my bits on a regular basis. As a result, it would be prudent of me to retain all the bits and pieces for another day.
Despite my choice to abstain from “the plunge”, I found myself on the ride after all. Upon returning to Palm Springs, the Clomid caught up with me. That combined with post-vacation blues and the stark reality of my life compared to my family’s lives hit me like a ton of bricks. Right in the heart.
It was a palpable feeling. I was laying on the bed, comfortably watching television and chatting with Big Guy. A feeling of disequilibrium started creeping up on me. I began to feel anxious and sweaty. My eyes started seeping tears. And then I felt like I was sliding down, down, down. Down the precipitous plunge that is infertility and unemployment.
(Well, infertility and unemployment on Clomid, which is as good as any drug trip gone bad, bad, bad.)
I haven’t posted a substantive post in a while because everything feels a bit…slippery. I’m having a hard time focusing on any one thing. If I keep my mind moving doing nothing then I don’t have to think. I don’t have to think about the days, weeks, months and years that have gone by. I don’t have to think about how I should be 21 weeks pregnant. Or 7 weeks pregnant. I don’t have to think about how if we were one of the fertile ones I would probably have a six month old. I don’t have to think about how perfect that would have been given my unemployment. I don’t have to think about the past 12 months of unemployment. I don’t have to think about what a goddamn waste all of my hard work has been. I don’t have to think about my deteriorating self-esteem. My deteriorating confidence. My deteriorating happiness. I don’t have to think about any of it.
I wake up in the morning and I read my emails, then I read the NY Times, then I read the articles I link to on Facebook. I drink some coffee, and I read through my blog roll. At this time it is about 9 am. The entirety of the day is yawning ahead of me, and I don’t know how to fill it.
I don’t have any kids. I don’t have a job. I don’t have any friends here. Nothing. It feels like I have nothing. Like I have effectively been excluded from life.
If things weren’t so slippery I would do something. Perhaps work on publishing bits of my dissertation. Or begin knitting that blanket for my mum. Read a book. But, like I said, everything feels a bit slippery, and I’m having a hard time focusing on much of anything. Let me tell you, this malaise kills all motivation.
I won’t lie. I’m not in a good place, and I’ve given up on the thought that tomorrow will bring something good. Job? Baby?
No. Probably not.
Not for me.
That is the mantra that echoes around all the other slippery thoughts.
Not for me.
I have never been so unhappy before in my life. My unemployment, infertility, and Big Guy’s job have all collided to create a perfect storm that has lasted for way too long already.
We moved to Southern California because Big Guy was having a hard time finding full-time employment in Denver. He was stuck in a place accepting temporary and seasonal work in his field, which not only doesn’t pay well, but also doesn’t offer any benefits or long-term stability. When he applied with a large, international consulting firm headquartered in Denver, they offered him a job in Orange County.
We had to take it. Big Guy had been looking for full-time work for almost two years at that point. Also, my fellowship with its paltry stipend was coming to an end, and we were going to lose our source of income. We didn’t have a choice. This meant leaving our home that we love – the house, the city, the restaurants, the mountains, our dear, dear friends. All of it. We didn’t have much of a choice.
My transition to Orange County hasn’t been kind. This place isn’t for me. I can understand why thousands, if not millions, love it here, but it is decidedly not for me for innumerable reasons. Big Guy travels to the desert a lot for work, and even when he isn’t travelling he is working over sixty hours a week. I end up spending a lot of time by myself. All day every day. This has made me unhappy.
I worked so very, very hard for five years on my degree. I was ecstatic when I finished. It felt amazing to get that monkey off my back. I have since applied for many jobs, but to no avail. Let me be clear. I didn’t, at any one point, enter the job search with any amount of ego or hubris. I have applied for jobs that I am over-qualified for, under-qualified for, and jobs that are asking for my exact qualifications. I took an exam for a research position within my discipline with the State of California. By law they must select an applicant from the top three scores. I was the top scorer on the test, but still no job offer.
This has been demoralizing and it makes me unhappy. I feel as if all of my hard work has been for naught. I have effectively educated myself out of the job market. I feel useless and without worth. So here I sit.
As for the family bit, well we all know how that story goes. Infertility, infertility, blocked tubes, infertility, baby, miscarriage, infertility. This has also made me unhappy.
How does one define themselves if not by work and family?
The worst thing is, I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how to come to terms with it. I don’t know how to accept and just be in this space. I don’t know if I should passively allow the Universe to work and bend to its will, or if I should actively chafe against the lot that’s been given to me. I don’t know how to maintain some semblance of self in the midst of this pain. What does one do when one is unhappy?
What happens when one is so mournfully, pitifully unhappy? What happens to the heart? To the spirit? To the soul? Does it result in long-term irreparable damage?
I will be scarred by this period for the rest of my life. I’m not sure I like the person that I’ve become. I don’t know if I will ever recover.
I am unhappy. Terribly, terribly unhappy.