Part III: The process of reclaiming my life


This is Part III of a little mini series where I try to share with you how I came from trying to fulfill everyone’s expectations to setting my own rules and started to not only breathe but live. If you are interested you can also read Part I and Part II.

I was now at a point in life were I didn’t like the career path I had taken, which also consumed nearly all of my free-time as it was a dual studies programme where I went to evening classes after a day at the office and I had almost no friends in the city I lived in, all my old friends were far away as well and keeping up seemed impossible. So I was stressed out and terribly lonely. I wrote about how horrible I felt in the second part.

Finally asking for help

Then one day I called the therapist, a friend if mine had recommended me, on my way home from work. I still remember as if it were yesterday it was a beautiful sunny day even though it was cold. She was hesitant at first but somewhere during the call, tears started running down my cheeks and I even walked well past my apartment because I just wanted to get all my shit out of my system and tell this woman who was hopefully able to help me. I was very grateful when she took me on as a client and even more grateful to my now defunct grandmother and my dad that they helped me out financially with her bills, because she only took on private clients and didn’t take insurance.

I half-heartedly tried to look for a therapist before, but the one’s that take insurance had waiting lists for up to 9 months and I didn’t have the energy to call and get my name on such a list. Even tha task of choosing where to call seemed overwhelming as they had weird office hours and I would have needed to snug out of work to make the call.

I began to see my therapist on a regular basis, in the beginning I think it was weekly which quickly changed to bi-weekly sessions.

With her help I began to see again that there was a way out of my imagined misery and that I didn’t have to stay in this same job forever and that I am not a failure just because I didn’t finish the bachelor degree in the provisioned time and that having your bachelor degree at 24 and already three years of working experience is actually an asset and that I shouldn’t put myself down for not having gone to a normal university.

She did this through various techniques, but the one that helped me the most were drawing a time bar and scheduling rewards whenever I passed a milestone. The list with the milestones and the linked rewards I put into my wardrobe so that I could see it everyday.

As I described in the last part I was often feeling very sad and was lacking energy, I pressured my therapist hard into giving me a diagnosis, because I am the person who needs a name for everything, be it inanimate objects, conditions, feelings or people, in order to deal with it. Further on we had a case of suicide in our family and this came from a depression expressed in an irrational fear of poverty. I was therefore very aware that depression is a real and severe disease. As it happened in my father’s part of the family he was also aware of this and was as supportive as he could be. That meant a lot to me for a) the financial aspect and b) for the fact that he recognised and accepted that I had an illness for which I could not be blamed.

For him that was a big step. I believe that still today he does not accept my migraines as an illness but thinks that I am hangover or just blowing out of proportion a tiny headache. As he is seldom ill I believe it has to do with privileges much like the white male privilege discussion in feminism today { see wikipedia or this great checklist } the dl to this is that you are blind to discrimination unless it happens to you.

The therapist eventually told me that I have a depressive mood and just a tiny case of it, so I did not need a lot of therapy and going through all my options with her and just putting things into a better perspective and not my screwed perfectionist one helped me a lot.

Involving the main player in my support network in the decision of quitting my job

When I made the decision to quit my job and go to grad school, I had an adult conversation with both my parents together, thank god the divorce is so much in the past that they are now able to talk normally again. My main worry was financing my Master not even in terms of school fees, because those were abolished in nearly all of Germany (cut to me getting accepted in the only state where they still exist…) but in terms of living and housing cost. I too had some irrational poverty fears, but my biggest problem was that I expected my dad to pay for my graduate degree as he didn’t have to pay for my undergrad. There is a whole other discussion of unequal treatment of siblings behind this, because my brother is getting financial help from my parents for his undergrad degree and they even pay for his flat although it’s in the same town as both my parents live in, but I am somewhat okay with this now.

So the discussion went as it always does, my mother even though she doesn’t make a lot of money offered me unconditional support and gave me a frame of how much she could spare to give to me and my father did what he does, he made demands, linking his financial support to conditions, never expressively naming those, wanting me to make a detailed plan of what I expect to be spending.

But in the end of the talk with my parents, some serious crying on my part he told me that of course he would support me and would even loan me money if I decided to pursue a degree at a fancy private uni with hefty fees.

Per se that is all not a bad thing, but at this point I hadn’t even started applying so I did not know in which city I would end up, if there were school fees, etc. Then the problem with all his demands and conditions is that he never remembers them if it does not fit his agenda. After some time I cautiously mentioned that I would feel better if I had a contract about the financing with him, because I didn’t want to be dependant on his moods and whatever he liked to remember of our agreement. He went ballistic , luckily my stepmother was there who suggested that it might not be such a bad idea to have something in writing, maybe just a quick e-mail so that nobody has to rely on their memories.

Dealing with my father was actually the part that was the hardest on me in all this months- if not even year-long process of deciding to quit my job and go back to school. I got nervous stomach pains just by thinking that I would be financially depended on my moody and effervescent dad. My brother tried to calm me down by saying that it’s not that bad and that dad threatens to cut his allowance every two weeks or so, but once he has made the standing order with the bank he doesn’t bother to actually cancel it and only threatens to do so. But I knew myself well enough then that only the threat of cutting my support would make me crazy and have me worrying about this which would result in not being able to concentrate on school work.

So what about my mistakes?

When I proposed the meeting between my parents I felt so grown.up and that I had learned from past mistakes, where my dad got really upset because he wasn’t involved in my job search for after high school and my mother always kept him out of decisions about mine and my brother’s educational paths. So I felt involving him in this major life decision would make this a discussion between adults. As I ended the discussion in tears I didn’t think that it went that well…

I also made some stupid mistakes like telling him that he was legally obligated to support me, never actually saying that I would sue him but not being very subtle about that I could. I don’t even know if that was really true. Parents are obliged to support a child through a first education and seeing that I had even completed two, the apprenticeship and my bachelor, I would have had to argue that the master’s degree is a consecutive one and it therefore forms one educational path.

So yeah, when I learnt from mistake from the past, which wasn’t even mine to begin with. Isn’t that the best way, learning from the mistakes of others and included my dad in the discussion. It turned out I acted like an entitled selfish brat who expects her daddy to pay for her education because he already did not have to pay for the bachelor. And as I felt so miserably during this time I blamed him for not pursuing a full-time degree in the first place.

More on how I overcame the selfish brat syndrome in the next and hopefully last post of this series. I just get so carried away when I write about this topic. I hope you were able to stay with me till the end, because this text became way longer than I expected it.

Next time I will tell you about how I put my idea of quitting into action.

picture courtesy of lelachi

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