Friday, April 15, 2016

Starting Over

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: risk, reward, reuse, claim, quit, quiet. They were submitted by:


I’ve been quiet lately. Seemingly.

My mind has been anything but, though. Outside I am a placid lake on a windless day, but once you peek beyond that surface illusion, you find a roiling storm of a sea amid a civil war of merpeople. Monsters from the deep joining forces with mermen and mermaids battling each other to rule my brain.


Burn out.




I’ve spent the last few months evaluating every goal I have ever had. It wasn’t an all of a sudden review, but I started noticing how much passion I lost for the career path I have been working towards for a decade now on and off, longer than that if we talk generalities. Anxiety about it began to stake its claim on the beaches of my mind and before I knew it full burnout set in. I have zero desire to learn anything knew, zero desire to do assignments and find myself figuring out just how many papers I can miss to still pass the class. That’s not me or, at least, that has never been me, and I began to see just how unhappy I was looking forward for the first time in years.

Being a not so small personality in a village, looking forward was everything. That I was working towards something better than small town goals made life worth living. It was a reason to keep going, to deal with the drudgery of daily life. Helping others, working miracles, saving lives…it’s all I ever wanted, and finally, maybe, it would alleviate some of the stress of living check to check.

For nearly a decade now, I have wanted to work as a counselor for inmates. I wanted to work with inmates who had life sentences, but I also wanted to work with offenders getting ready for release to give them some kind of chance, hopefully, at actually leading a legitimate life one day. A criminal record destroys that opportunity. Jobs are harder to get as well as loans, housing, credit cards… Everything a person needs to move forward in life crumbles to impossibility with a record.

I have also been writing people in prison offering what help I can for the last, oh, 9ish years. My goals and my writing have always sort of coincided. I wrote because of my goals and my goals evolved the more I wrote.

And then they evolved into a puddle of shit.

The more people I have written and helped and talked to about everything under the sun including the feasibility of my goals the more I have seen how idealistic it all was. I have had to do a risk and reward evaluation. The risks are high--burnout, being overworked and underpaid, little appreciation, budgets, red tape, managed care, stress, violence, real threat of injury or death. No matter how sincere I was with clients they would likely always see me as a part of the institution imprisoning them, as a cop as I have been told. But what of the rewards? Maybe potentially helping a handful of people over a long career in which I make little money and use most of what I do make paying off student loans while I continue to rack up debt from for-profit schools that have predatory lending practices.

That doesn’t leave me with many options hence all the anxiety and stress and a bit of burnout already, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to quit school. I can still work in the justice field if I want with the bachelor’s degree I already have. Maybe. I can still help people the same way I do now—quite honestly it is easier to help people through writing than it would ever be in an institutional setting. It’s not the end of my dream to help people but an overhaul of the way I plan on accomplishing that. Currently, for example, I am trying to get someone into a CDL school for when he gets out in a few months.

Either way, it has been a battle learning to let go which has taken quite a toll on me. Right now, I want to get a part time job in the next 6 months or so, keep on homeschooling the kiddo, and maybe write a little more than I have been in a few months. I came to the conclusion that I would rather work a job where my biggest stressor was an asshole customer that day who reports me to the manager for not letting her keep her coupons to reuse later (though I hope it doesn’t actually come to that) than counseling a convicted rapist who keeps assaulting fellow inmates. I mean, I can’t even do an assignment on handling a rape victim in crisis without getting triggered and having a near panic attack myself. How the ever loving fuck am I supposed to handle that in real life?

If Sharknado and 2012 were combined into one film, that chaos would still pale in comparison to my thoughts, every shark a pang of anxiety driving my pulse rate through the roof and keeping me from getting any sleep. Finally, though, the inside is starting to quiet down to match the outside. I don’t feel like I’m a quitting, like I’m giving up. A weight has lifted and a feel a little more free than before. Starting over at 34 has its benefits.


Here are the links to the other participants. Enjoy: Baking In A Tornado Southern Belle Charm Not That Sarah Michelle Spatulas on Parade The Angrivated Mom The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Dinosaur Superhero Mommy Someone Else’s Genius Confessions of a part time working mom Never Ever Give Up Hope My Brain on Kids The Bergham Chronicles


  1. I'm sorry you're going through this crisis, but I know you'll make the right choices.
    I don't know if this helps or not but I'll tell you that I was young and naive about helping the world once too. I went into social work. I was Director of Social Service at a long term medical facility when I burned out. I went on to a second career as a Retail Buyer. BUT I never regretted that time in my first career. I didn't even regret burning out and moving on. I felt that there were things I had to do in order to get where I needed to go. And it was at that second job where I met my husband.

  2. How difficult to make the decision, but freeing once it's made. I agree, you can help so many with your writing. You're great at it.

  3. How difficult to make the decision, but freeing once it's made. I agree, you can help so many with your writing. You're great at it.

  4. That's the thing with long-term goals... one might end up changing them, and that's OK. Glad you are feeling relieved. This will release new energy and hope. Here's to starting over!

  5. I wish I had come to this conclusion before I finished my degree - which is useless to me now as I will never work in my field of study. Starting over at our age isn't so bad and you gotta do what makes you happy in the long run.

    Good luck with everything! I hope to read more of your writing soon.

  6. You had very good intentions with your career path but it's more important that you are happy. I'm sure whatever path you choose to go down you will be successful.