Sunday, February 02, 2014

Disabled In The Water

Yesterday saw (after a couple of weeks of grumbling about key selection criteria) the opening salvo of job applications sent to Sydney. Exciting! I have to confess, the past month of navigating the absence of my lover has been, is, continues to be harder than I let on. The job hunt may be a hateful process, but I will go at it tooth and nail to close the distance between us.

The positions were with the public service, and at the end of the bemusingly complex online form, I was asked quite simply if I had a disability. The drop down list gave me two options: lie or dare.

I often fall into the thought trap of assuming myself to be normal. "Okay." I mean, I have a job I can do just fine, I can go out with friends, I can-

-not.

I'm part time because I cannot, can not, survive a full working week without pain and deep fatigue. My salary is so much lower than my friends and peers because of this, because I must balance my health before any sort of job advancement and stress, the fucking demon shitheap it is, can decay my wellbeing in mere minutes. That extra day off on Wednesdays I have is not really a 'day off'. Much as I like to plan to do things on that day, mostly it is used to rest. Sleep. To do nothing and use that inertia to keep the fatigue and pain in balance so I'm capable of another two days of sitting at a desk.

Whether or not to be open about this in my job hunt is a little imp of indecision and anxiety I can never quite crush. The fear that admitting I'm a lame horse will mean I'm passed over for jobs isn't unreasonable. The fear that this will see me waiting months before I can move up to Sydney is nauseating. However, if an office isn't prepare to accept my limitations, then it is not an office in which I want to work. I know this. It's the buoy I cling to.

So I chose 'dare'. 

It's the first time I've referred to myself as disabled. 

Some threshold has been crossed in my mind.

Then there was Chinese New Year (KUNG HEI FAT CHOOOOI!), and a house warming party, and a birthday BBQ, and I was all set to bounce into all three. The logistics were planned out, I had my outfit picked, I was fucking looking forward to the silliness and cackling.

Bones wrought of fatigue, a substance heavier than lead. After firing off my applications I crawled back to bed, hoping a nap would bolster me. It didn't. I didn't leave my bed until today. 

FOMO is close, but not quite the right trajectory. My own not-particularly-well-thought-out take on FOMO is that it stems more from the lack of invitation than not being present. We're adults now, I'm not being invited to events out of pity. My friends ask for my presence because they genuinely want it. That's a fine gift, and I do treasure these requests. I just can't.

Every time this happens, I think of all those passing remarks in which someone is referred to, with exasperation and a touch of disgust, as 'flakey'. That I am that person is anathema. I don't want to be unreliable. I don't want to be a bad friend. All your celebrations and achievements I want to add the happy too. In that joyous memory-making dance I want to play my part and add another thread of glee. I love your presence.

The apologies I send are weeping with penance and self-flagellation and regret, and I doubt anyone is blind to the fact that I'm not asking for their forgiveness, but my own. 

There is no way out of here.