Unworthiness is a demon I have battled my entire life. According to my many therapists, it probably stems from having an uninterested, uninvolved father. From having too little and wanting too much as a child. But whatever it was that made its roots take hold was something powerful and deep.
I have spent way too many of my days fighting to be seen, to be heard, to be loved, to be needed, to be useful, to be successful, to be someone. I always envied my sister her ability to just be. To be happy and content despite. She was always the calm to my never-enough storm. I have compared and contrasted myself with those who seemingly have it all–the looks, the money, the power, the prestige–until I’m blue in the face.
And there are times in my life when I have been that woman. And times that I am the furthest from that woman.
Add unemployed and uninsured to unworthy, and you are left drowning in a pretty deep sea of not enough, never enough.
I mean, no matter the reason for losing a job, someone looked at you and said, “You don’t mean enough to us to keep you or fight for you. We thought we wanted you, but we were wrong. We will replace you with someone better.” It’s a high-school-crush kind of breakup. Deep. Devastating. Except they don’t say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” They say, “It’s definitely you.” There is no easy let down. There are no soft words.
It’s just business, after all.
But businesses are made of humans. If you take the humans out of the business, what is left? (AI, I guess. Perhaps it’s coming for us all.)
And I could go on forever about the state of healthcare in this capitalist country. The haves have it, and the have nots, well… they don’t. I was moments away from dental implants. That won’t happen now. They say the best measure of poverty is looking at someone’s teeth. I don’t want to be measured by my teeth. But I have some that need to be replaced, and that’s no longer a current option. So, if that holding pattern ends up being too long, my teeth will become my measure. And my back. My damn, deteriorating spine. I can’t even look at a surgery center or a physical therapist’s office now. It’s too expensive to even turn my head in that direction. So, that gets to wait, too. Pretty soon, I’ll be toothless and hobbled.
Unemployed. Uninsured. Untoothed.
But truly… healthcare in this country is a joke. An offensive, off-colored joke, but a joke nonetheless. (And let’s not even get into the irony of the fact that I was let go from a healthcare tech company… sigh…) Shouldn’t we, as humans, have our basic medical needs met? Isn’t that like food? Like water? Aren’t those things basic human rights? Shouldn’t diabetics be able to afford insulin? Shouldn’t cancer patients receive treatments that don’t bankrupt them and their families?
I mean, I’ve worked in some capacity since I was 15 years old. After nearly 40 years of work, shouldn’t there be a safety net that’s not $1,200 a month? On a $0 a month salary? So I can still stay on my happy pills and be functional and try to dig my way out of this hole? Better yet, shouldn’t we have a system that doesn’t require a safety net? I can’t see without my glasses. But if something happens to my glasses today, I can’t replace them. Suddenly, overnight, they’ve become these precious little commodities that perch on the end of my nose and must be protected at all costs. Such a strange and necessary little pot of gold. (Luckily, I don’t currently need any healthcare for my nose. That’s one body part that still works.)
What I’m saying is this: Life can really fuck with you. A week ago, I was making a six-figure salary and attending PT and waiting for my dental appointment to roll around. Today, whatever comes out of my bank account isn’t being replaced in two weeks. It’s a scary, unsettling reality. But I am lucky enough to have some safety nets in this life. I have Julie. I have a tiny bit of savings. I have a roof over my head, food in my pantry, and a relatively soft bed to rest in at night. (It is an RV mattress, after all.) I have kind and generous friends and family and people who check in with me daily to make sure I’m okay.
There are so many who don’t.
So many who go without.
So many who never catch a break.
What kind of nation is ours, really, that gives so much to a few and so little to so many? These are the things that make me question humanity, question the presence of a god, question everything. Why do babies get sick and grandmothers get lonely and good humans struggle while liars and cheats evade taxes and get richer and deny others the security of basic human rights (#translivesmatter)?
I am grateful that my health is still relatively good, that I have the ability to work. I have a reliable computer that enables me to apply for jobs. I have a mind that is still (mostly) intact, even though my memory (or lack thereof) scares me a little bit more every day. I have skills and experience and a drive to succeed. I have words–these words–that help me make sense of the present and continue to give me hope for the future.
But I’m getting tired. At 52, I don’t really want to be starting from scratch. And yet, here I am.
On my good days, I see a blank slate and the ability to do whatever I want to do… to write my life as a bestseller, the one with the happy ending. I try to stay there as often as possible.
On the not-so-good days, I feel scared and lonely and washed up and old and… you guessed it… unworthy. Those days are harder than most. Those demons are the ones that show up uninvited.
Old habits are hard to break.
But there is still time to break them.
For that, I am grateful.
I still have time.
You still have time.
And that, my friends, is the greatest luxury of all.
(Now please excuse me while I go watch Fraggle Rock. Julie is bringing me a snack. Maybe it’s peanut butter and jelly? Maybe it’s Chick-Fil-Gay?)
P.S. I know this was supposed to be a chronicle of my late-in-life lesbian adventures, but I’m working through some unexpected stuff right now. Even late-in-life lesbians have unexpected stuff. Thanks for understanding. #unexpectedlesbianstuff