“I feel like I’m letting you down,” I said, unable to make eye contact.
“Max,” Sarah said, grabbing my hands and forcing me to look at her. “You are not letting me down. I only care about taking care of you.”
“I know. I just wish it were the other way around.”
One year ago, I was in engrossed in my first semester of graduate school with a focus on early childhood education. During this time, I also worked for a daycare as a teacher’s aide which I had been doing since 2009. At the end of the semester, after much consideration, consultation with Sarah, and prayer, I decided that graduate school was not the right path for me at the time. I finished the semester in hopes of finding full-time work and shortly thereafter, I grew ill.
In the meantime, Sarah had been working full-time for two-and-a-half years, supporting us while I was in school. It has always been a desire of mine to be able to provide for my family. Sarah is my family--we have no children. It’s just the two of us, but as a man, there is an inherent aspiration that I’ve always recognized. Having witnessed the time and effort that my own father had put into this aspect of life, I knew that, when blessed with a family of my own, I’d do the same. Graduate school seemed like the natural progression after I received my Bachelor’s degree. I wanted to be able to get the best job I could after finishing college. I believed that the pursuit of a Master’s degree would strengthen my chances, allowing Sarah to focus on her creative endeavors.
Unfortunately, plans don’t always go the way we would want them to. Sometimes life can be a bit tricky—in fact, it forced me to reevaluate my goals for the foreseeable future. When Cogan’s Syndrome first let loose, I was unaware of how long I’d be out of commission and unable to work. Eight months later, I am still out of work due to vertigo and hearing problems and even if I believe at some point that I’ll be fit to venture out and work again, I currently have no job to return to. Sometimes I feel like screaming out loud. I want to shout and dramatically knock things off shelves, flip tables and punch holes in walls—it feels as though one of the reasons I was created, part of my very being, was ripped out of me; it’s emasculating.
I’ve had to deal with physical and mental trauma due to my disease, but I’ve also had to consider the fact that I haven’t been able to help with our finances. In my opinion, it’s what I should be doing and the fact that I haven’t been able to infuriates me. Sarah has been forced to continue full-time work while I’ve been at home. I cannot express how thankful I am to her for her hard work and endurance. We both understand that she is blessed to be employed and that without her benefits, my health would be in question--perhaps unable to be treated with detrimental side-effects--however, I long to change our circumstances, allowing Sarah more possibilities. I wish that she could enjoy life and focus on her gifts. I want her to be able to sing and write music; to spend time doing art and writing; instead, she is cooped up in a cubicle all day long, doing work that she is content yet indifferent with, and unable to fully take advantage of her passions.
In our current situation, Sarah and I have decided that I should pursue writing; that I should spend all of my time and what little energy I have on becoming a freelance writer. As much as I love writing and am excited about the possibility of making a living from doing so, I still wish our roles were reversed. I would much rather that Sarah be able to follow her ambitions. In the meantime, I’ll write, and I’ll enjoy it, in hopes that one day, I’ll feel completely useful again.