Has it really been over a year since I’ve updated this? My, how time flies.
A brief compacted version of my year: Things with Jack worked out. I love him more than I can ever express and his support has been unbelievable. I moved in with him in February and ever since it’s been me, Jack, and our cats Mr. Waffles and Ursa Meowser. (And our awkward roommate, though that’s a tale for another time.) Life with Jack is happiness.
Now onto the topic at hand.
Have you ever been in a situation where you can finally exhale but upon doing so, you have no clue what it was ever like to breathe properly in the first place?
When I moved in with Jack, I immediately found myself a good paying job in the childcare field, a profession I’ve worked in for pretty much my entire adult life. I know it inside and out and can proudly say that I’m one of the best damn preschool teachers around. It was a corporation so I knew that things would be different from the private schools I was used to, but what I didn’t anticipate was that the exhaustion I’d felt at my previous job followed me to this one. The parents loved me. The kids loved me. The school was overjoyed at my teaching methods, creativity, and attention to detail in the classroom. I, however, was screaming on the inside. It wasn’t in me anymore. My patience with the children was at an all-time low, though I’d never show it, which led to spiking stress levels. I started to get sick a lot (which I’ve now discovered are from migraines, which I’d never had before-Wee!!) and would push through the day only to come home exhausted, mentally and physically.
Don’t get me wrong, both of us having decent paying jobs was nice! We could afford to go out to museums, take day trips to the beach, eat out (and even opt for appetizers!). For the first time in five years, I didn’t have to wonder if the bills were going to be payed or if I had to choose between food or gas. Unfortunately, due to my stress, I was often too sick to do any of those things. Most weekends were spent at home, Jack taking care of me as my head pounded, belly ached, and anxiety levels grew.
One weekend, we agreed to spend some time at the beach with an old friend of mine. It was a welcome vacation who’s only downside was my nagging inner anxiety of the idea of going back to work when we returned. Friday afternoon, Jack and I waded out into the ocean as far as we could, scanning the horizon for dolphins and enjoying the sounds of the surf all around us. This amazing, thoughtful man turned to me and told me to quit my job. He could tell that it was the source of my sickness and sadness. He encouraged focusing on my art (which has always been a dream) and that, even if we have to pinch pennies here and there, he could take care of me. Actually, properly, take care of me. I’m pretty sure I cried right there in the ocean. My whole life I’d been the only one carrying the weight of finances on my shoulders. I never imagined I’d actually be able to focus on my art without the worry of working 10 hours a day just to make ends meet.
When we returned, I put in my two weeks notice. My boss begged me to stay and even offered me the position of art teacher which would have been my DREAM job just a few years ago, but at the moment just sounded exhausting. Besides, I’d just recently started doing pretty well at my side business of painting pet portraits. The last two weeks were brutal but I made it through, eager to jump into my new life of art!
Then, a week or so later, hurricane Harvey struck. The city I live in was devastated. Jack and I were extremely lucky to not get flooded but a good 3/5 of the community around us was completely destroyed. Suddenly purchasing paintings of pets was the least of peoples’ concern, and rightfully so. I haven’t had a single commission since. It’s disheartening but a reality I was prepared to face.
Since then I’ve tried to focus my art on my own original pieces as well as fan art pandering to my beloved nerdy community of whovians and the such.
I’m not making money. Sometimes I feel useless. Lazy. Uninspired. Like a leach. It’s not a good feeling.
Fortunately, because I have the most amazing man in my life, that yucky feeling is starting to fade. I’m not useless! I paint. I draw. I work out. I’m going back to school in the spring. I meal plan and prepare recipes. I cook and clean the apartment. I ensure that when Jack comes home, the only thing he has to worry about is snuggling his girlfriend and cats and whether or not I need help with dinner. And ya know what? I love it. Sure, we may not have much play money and I’ve come to terms with the fact that it may take some time to start turning a profit with my art but that’s okay. I’m not crying in the middle of the day. I’m not reluctantly spending half of my weekends cleaning the apartment. I’m not convincing myself every week that my health is worth less than my job.
I’m not useless. I’m just learning how to breathe again.