Being “real” in my own way

I’m in the very fortunate position that I don’t need to work, by this I mean financial need, which is really rather lucky because (right now) I’d do a pretty terrible impression of someone managing paid employment.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned my new scatty creative persona before, probably many times if only I could remember stuff… like for example where I’m going with this post?

When I was going through cancer treatment and way beyond into recovery, I found I could gauge my mood fairly well by what I was doing.  When my particular cancer bomb exploded in my (cosy-stay-at-home-mum-looking-for-a-job) world, I was actively seeking employment.


  • Was it because I had a burning desire to re-join the rat race?
  • Was it because I was bored at home?
  • Was it because of financial reasons?

The answer to all of these was a resounding “No!”, the reason I was attempting to re-enter the work place was because I felt I had to.  Rightly or wrongly I felt that my boys were old enough for me to have to get back to the real world, as a real person instead of being just a mum.  And the most obvious way to do this was via employment.

Picture this, you’re at a party and on meeting new people the most often asked question is… “What do you do?” – leading to deep furrowing of my forehead – “Do? Me? Oh, nothing really, I’m a stay at home mum.”  END OF CONVERSATION

Please know that I am not criticising stay at home parents or carers, it’s such a valuable role and one I continue to do.

One of my favourite films is ‘About a Boy’ and I am Will, except I’m not, not really, but that moment at a dinner party when he says he does nothing, that’s the moment that he is seen as nobody and isn’t worth talking to.

And I guess that’s how I felt, like I was missing out on that simple way of being a real member of society.  So, I was applying for jobs to find something to make me feel more worthwhile.  Not jobs I wanted to do or had any passion for, but ones that would fit in around the boys.

And then cancer hit and the job I was offered on the actual day of my diagnosis I had to turn down (part time postie if you’re interested?) and instead my new vocation was attending hospital and clinic appointments and wondering how on earth I was going to get through all of this.

Then right in the middle of chemo, worsening mood, feeling horrendous, and after I’d been diagnosed with a heart abnormality (which in all likelihood was triggered by chemo) what do I do?

Yup, you guessed it – I applied for a job…

In the middle of chemo… what? why? are you crazy?

And you will not guess where this job was (because this makes it even more crazy)?!

In the middle of chemo I applied for a job at a hospice… oh ok Karen, not your best move…

It was sometime later that I noticed the pattern.  When my depression was worse I would desperately look to find some normality in life, something that I could do to prove to myself that I was ok and that life was good.

Something like applying for jobs.  Or entering cake baking competitions (again in the middle of chemo).  Or getting involved in volunteering and fundraising.

None of which filled the chasm inside me, the enormous hole that made me feel like I was nothing.

When my mood improved these things weren’t important, and so it continued… my mood fluctuating up and down and with it my striving for normality would come and go.

At some point I realised what the driving force was and I stopped.

I had reached a level of self-awareness where I understood that my actions were about as useful as applying antiseptic to a broken leg.

No amount of grasping at normality would take away the pain of my emotions.

Emotions that had been spiralling down, down, down.

No more job applications, no more school governor duties, no more volunteering or baking competitions.  I’d learnt that none of these things would make a difference, if anything they’d make things worse by increasing the stress I was living with.  I’d learnt that self-care and minimising stress was a better way to help myself… still not sure where I’m going with this post…

And for the past year or more I haven’t applied for any jobs, I turn down responsibilities that would be damaging to my recovery (obviously not critical childcare type responsibilities) and instead I focus on me.

So, yes, I am fortunate that I don’t need to work because in releasing myself from my own perceived obligation to become worthwhile through employment, I’ve found the space to become who I am now.

A real person of my own making.




13 comments on “Being “real” in my own way”
  1. I too am a stay at home mum/carer for my daughter and can relate to your post, thank you for sharing. I feel like I ‘should’ be working, when I’m actually doing the toughest job out there already. I want, and need at the moment, to be around for my daughter, and being true to ourselves is where we find contentment xx

    When I was nominated, you immediately came to mind as a nominee for me for the Random Acts of Kindness Award 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen says:

      Aw thank you so much 😊
      It’s crazy the pressure we put ourselves under when we already have enough to deal with.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know! Seems to come with the territory though doesn’t it!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely story Karen. It’s almost like we are in denial when the chips are down and we push on trying to convince ourselves that all is well and normal. It happens with illness and also when experiencing a death of someone close. ❤️ 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen says:

      I would never choose cancer or mental illness but its given me a real appreciation and understanding of how I fit in this crazy world.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So true Karen. You are an inspiration to all of us. Warm wishes 😔

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Cherilyn says:

    Being a mum is a full-time job and deserves respect. Even if you happen to have an outside job too, you are still always going to be a mum, and that’s a round-the-clock, no time off kind of job.

    But some people are jerks who equate a job title with status and level of success. They have been fed a diet of proverbial Flavor Aid over on LinkedIn that people who are unemployed, under-employed, or blue collar are “unsuccessful” and therefore “toxic” and “should be avoided” so their “toxic lack of success” can’t be transmitted to them.

    You shouldn’t be made to feel like you are worthless or unimportant because of your job status. You are blessed in that you don’t have to work, but that shouldn’t reflect badly on you because other people do. I have to work, but that’s because I never got married, never had kids, last I checked, that was kind of my choice. I could have made that happen if I really wanted to.

    Instead, I networked my way into working security so now when I get asked what I do…I get the same kind of reaction, and worse because I also get judged for being a middle-aged, single woman who never had children. I have had people assume I must be a lesbian and that I must be lying to them about it, which is frigging ridiculous, but people are jerks…

    In any case I would be remiss if I didn’t point out to you that you could get around this whole BS of being judged negatively because of a lack of a “job” by idiots who don’t think raising children qualifies. Slap a PayPal link on your blog, with a message like, “Hey, I take gratuity!”, pay some taxes and voila….self-employed, professional free-lance writer. And don’t forget published author of poetry too.

    And you wouldn’t be lying…;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen says:

      I’m sure there are those who judge my choices re children and being a full time mum but that’s their problem not mine.
      I’m certain that some people will judge others no matter what… if you don’t fit their ideals then they see you as flawed.
      I have already started using the I’m a poet line, my royalties may be way below tax paying thresholds for now but I hope that in time, they’ll increase.
      I have already registered with the tax office as self employed so there’s nothing but truth in my being a writer.

      Good thinking on the PayPal link, I’ll take a look at that once school hols are out of the way and I have more mental space to think about such things.

      Thank you for your support, it means a lot and stuff the judgemental bigots! 😁 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cherilyn says:

        Exactly! And you’re quite welcome. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. albesashatri says:

    Dear Karen, I love this story very much! Glad that there are people like you out there, realizing there are better and healthier options for them, not just what is acceptable in society’s eyes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen says:

      Thank you so much. It’s hard when society or ourselves place expectations on what is perceived as the right thing to do, or how best to live life. It’s liberating to know that just being true to yourself is ok.
      Thanks for your response and for reading x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. jessofearth says:

    First of all, you seem like an incredibly strong person so that’s really inspiring. And second, I really liked this post. Although I am not at the same place in my life or going through the same things, I still feel like I could relate to your feelings. I find myself often reaching for things to make me feel normal as opposed to learn to handle my emotions and take care of myself properly.
    Very happy that you realized that you don’t need to work and that you’re taking the time you need to recover and learn more about yourself! Great post xx Jess~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen says:

      Thanks Jess, it’s taken a long time but I am now so aware of the things that help and those that are damaging. In all honesty I’m not the same person that I used to be. I actually feel stronger and more able to face things.
      I hope my words help you, thanks for your message and for reading x

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.