Shit sucks right now.

I feel like I’m trapped inside a stress avalanche with no end in sight. Every time things start looking up, something happens that keeps the rocks crashing down on me.

I leave today, after work, to fly to St. Louis for my mom’s surgery. ‘Cause that’s the way the medical world works: here are your scary test results! This is an emergency! Oh, but the doctor’s on vacation, so he can’t call you back. And the next doctor is super busy, so he’ll get back to you in two weeks. The doctor finally reviewed your scans, and you need to travel 500 miles in five days to get your head operated on. THANKS, GUYS.

I kept my job very well informed of what was going on. I told them expressly that we didn’t know when the surgery would be, but that I expected it would happen in October and that we would have very little notice when it finally did get scheduled. So when I tell my boss on Friday — 20 minutes after my mom tells me when it’s going to take place — that I would need to be out the following week, I was not expecting such a chilly response. I asked to work remotely for a day or two, since I’m low on time off, thanks to a recent sick day. She said no. She said she wasn’t comfortable with me “being on the pay roll” while I was in St. Louis. Even though she works from home all the time. How is it any different? She then told me I was welcome to use all the unpaid time off I wanted. Um, allowing me to use FMLA, to which I am entitled under the fucking law, is not a gift. And we’re talking about ONE DAY that I don’t have banked right now. In a month, I would have made that up.

She knows how much I get paid. You’ve seen my budget. There is no way I can afford unpaid time off. Our budget is to the penny and frankly doesn’t include enough for us not to hate our existences. My husband asked how much a day of my unpaid leave would cost us. I told him it was around $150, so he borrowed that amount from his parents — a retired, disabled veteran and a public-school lunch lady. I feel terrible. I appreciate his thought and their generosity, but they cannot afford to send their son and daughter-in-law $150 whenever we need it. I know it’s a special circumstance and that our moms are fond of each other, but I still cried when the money showed up in my account.

On top of everything, my husband and I are having trouble communicating. I’m just short of impossible right now, thanks to the stress and fear, and he is sick of me crying every five minutes. I don’t know what to do differently right now, though, so we just have to get through it. He also thinks I’m overreacting, which is true, but again, I can’t imagine feeling positively about my mom’s surgery. Statistically she will be fine, but surgery on your head is serious business and it can lead to all kinds of complications. And frankly, unless everything goes as well as possible — her consult is good on Wednesday, she qualifies for the easier procedure on Thursday, and she has no complications on Friday — I am fucked in terms of time off. I have only one extra day built into my travel timeline before I would have to start taking more unpaid leave. If that is the case, I have no idea at all how we’ll stay afloat in November.

He says I need to be more optimistic. Probably everything will be fine. I hope he’s right, but all I feel right now is the crushing fear that things won’t go our way.

And back to the work issue. There are exactly two good reasons to do nonprofit work: 1. Knowing you are making a difference in the world, and 2. Being treated like a real person by your employer. It’s certainly not for the money, the opportunities for growth, or the prestige. On top of being inflexible about my leave, I just feel like I’m being shit upon, like this family emergency is a fault of mine. I did everything I possibly could to prepare my boss for this inevitability, and for what? She’s been snide and snotty to me at the office. She was annoyed that I didn’t come to a totally not-required event that is outside my purview on Sunday, even though she must have known that I was in the middle of trying to get things together to leave town. And then the icing on the cake was getting handed a card yesterday to congratulate a coworker on her service anniversary. Mine was six weeks ago, and I never received any tiny acknowledgment for it.

In sum, I’m scared shitless about my mom’s procedure. I’m fighting with my husband. I’m stressed even more about money. And now I’m back to being miserable at work, which is the way I felt for the first six months I worked here. I need to get all of these things under control or else I fear I will spin completely out of control and have a breakdown (unless that’s what I’m already having). I am hoping for the very best with my mom’s surgery. I did my best last night to get things under control at home, at least for now, knowing full well that there are more discussions to have. And it’s time to look for a new job. I will gladly trade my soul for a paycheck at this point.


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