The Six Year CycleI don't really recall when I first noticed, but I have been aware that every six years or so, it seems that my life enters into a new phase. Sometimes the transition is sudden, sometimes gradual. Some major events have happened mid-cycle, like the births of my oldest and youngest children. But the events that have heralded big changes in which my life follows an entirely new path have occurred very close to every six years.
The first big transition was when I was 6 years old and began my school career upon entering the 1st grade. Then, when I was 12, my family moved to a different city and I embarked upon the great adventure known as adolescence. That, of course, lasted about another 6 years, then came high school graduation and my entrance into the adult world at the age of 18. At the age of 24, I gave birth naturally to my second son after having a c-section with the first. I also had all my illusions about love, marriage, fidelity and honesty dashed to pieces when I learned that my husband had been unfaithful, and also realized that ours was a loveless marriage. The marriage lasted another 6 years, with my next big life phase starting with our divorce, which was granted a few weeks before my 30th birthday. I celebrated my 36th birthday as a licensed paramedic in the dawn of the new millenium, but the EMS phase of my life ended the next year, slightly off schedule, when I gained full custody of my younger son after his father and step-mother were arrested for child abuse.
The next six years were focused almost exclusively on my son. He has bipolar disorder and keeping up with that - the schools, the doctors and hospitals, insurance and TennCare, keeping him alive and trying to keep him out of trouble, and coping with his wild mood swings and personality issues - took every bit of my physical and emotional energy, and then some. My social life, which had previously been quite busy, screeched to a sudden halt.
I could no longer join my large circle of friends at the clubs on Saturday nights. Dating also became a thing of the past, which in retrospect was not such a bad thing, given some of the traumatic experiences I had, and continued to haunt me on occasion. I tried a few times, but my son would have none of it, always finding some crisis that would prompt him to call me over and over anytime I tried to go out. Most of the people I had thought of as friends turned away from me, probably uncomfortable with the issue of mental illness. I also had little time for anyone but my son. The stress and emotional exhaustion pretty much turned me into a hermit. What had been mild shyness in me became full-blown social anxiety. The little spare time I had, I filled with books, movies, my cats and knitting. That was my life for that six year period.
Shortly before my 42nd birthday, a great number of events started happening that, I thought, were heralding major, big-time life changes. I quit smoking. I was laid off from my job. My next job was back in the computer/technical business after almost four years in the insurance business. My daughter came to live with me. We moved to Oak Ridge. I made three major decisions ... one, to go back to school and get my degree, and two, to lose the horrible amount of weight I had gained, and three, to try to revive my comatose social life.
Wow. That's a lot of changes. Too bad only the quitting smoking has worked out well.
The job was great for about a year, then a new manager came in and it all went to hell and finally ended, and I still, 8 months later, can't find a new one. Having my daughter here has been great, but the circumstances she left at her father's caused her a lot of damage and we struggled to keep a handle on her depression and anxiety that resulted from it. Moving to Oak Ridge was a huge mistake, as it threw me back to a past I thought was firmly in the past. Within two semesters at school, I became dissatisfied with my choice of major, and still have no idea what I want to do now. And I have gained back a good amount of the weight that I had lost.
The Great Social Experiment ... now that has turned out to be very interesting indeed, and just to cut to the chase, it appears to be a total failure as well. I started by forcing myself out of the house to go to several general social gatherings, some with friends, some at work. Some of these forays were successful, others I barely made it out of the house. Once I started to get to know people, and could anticipate a familiar face or two at the gatherings, I found it possible to at least be able to relax after arrival, even though it was a battle just to get there. I even started dating again! All who know me went into a state of shock after hearing my adamant refusals to even consider the idea for so many years. Yes, a date. It turned into another, then another, and another. Before I knew it, it was a real relationship. I was deliriously happy, content, and could not believe how blessed I was. Unfortunately, as they say, all good things must come to an end - and in keeping with the way things go for me, the end was sudden, traumatic, mind shattering and heart breaking, coming at the worst possible moment leaving me just barely hanging on to the last shred of my sanity - and even that is in doubt at the moment. Not only have I lost the companionship and company of my best friend and soul mate, I had also grown to care very much about his family. My grief over this loss in my life is unbearable.
So, I have come all the way back full circle to where I was at the start of this six year cycle - no job, no social life, no hope and utterly alone as I face the very real possibility of homelessness. Other than the job, and maybe school, I have no desire to ever even try again. Although, on the heartbreak diet, I have lost 5 pounds in 3 days. But I think that spending Saturday nights with Netflix DVDs on the laptop, curled up in bed with a pint of Ben and Jerry's and my cats will do just fine ... at least until I can no longer pay the rent. I wonder if there are any bridges around that can get a Wifi signal?
Only four years until the next cycle starts ... if I can make it until then.
Posted by LissaKay on 05/19/08 at 12:31 AM in Family Matters of the Heart PersonalCommenting is not available in this channel entry.
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