Measuring Self-Esteem When Unemployed

I’ve been in a bit of a slog for the past few weeks. I thought I’d passed through the worst of the feelings of post-move isolation and I have for the most part. Then, in a state of mind-fog confusion that only fellow Fibromyalgia sufferers can understand, last week I paid six of my monthly bills twice online, meaning I couldn’t pay my rent on the first and had to borrow money from my children who aren’t very happy with me. Six weeks ago I borrowed money from my 81-year-old mother (who still has to work) to pay some of my moving expenses.

There are not many experiences as hard on a person’s self-esteem as losing the ability to work, to be productive, to pay your own way. Hard-workers transform into good-for-nothings, yes, in our own minds, but in the minds of others, too—especially in the case of Fibromyalgia, because muscle pain and extreme lack of stamina don’t show on the outside. ‘Responsible’ is replaced by shame-faced. Capability morphs into helplessness.

But people disabled by illness have it good compared to those who can’t find work because no jobs are available. At least we have disability benefits from the government that last as long as we are unable to work. (Lest anyone think the disabled live ‘high on the hog,’ mine are $721 per month.) On the other hand, unemployment benefits come to an end with the speed of a bullet train when there are no jobs.

Stop for a moment here and think of a child. What if you became homeless with that child? What if you lived in your car–until it was repossessed by the bank? Where would you sleep then? How can your kids be picked up by a school bus when you don’t have an address? How can you stop other kids from taunting yours because their thrift store pants are too short or their shoes are too small or big? (If you haven’t thought about it, children who were homeless generally don’t become confident adults.)

If we all do choose our lives before we are born, and I believe we do, why choose situations with no or little income? Self-esteem out of balance is pride. Not only was that a big lesson for capable-me, so was learning compassion for others not as well off as I was. My five years of therapy helped me to understand myself, but also why people do stupid or ‘crazy’ things. In the end, the bottom line is that we, of ourselves, can do nothing. Every breath we take is granted by our Creator. If we are ‘gifted,’ the gifts came from God (Great Spirit/Love/Universe) who made them up for us. If we lose all that we love, it is because we asked our Creator for this experience before we were born.

Life is about balance and a journey meant to draw us closer to the Source of Everything. When we give up our pride, bullheadedness and judgments, we find ourselves, at long last, one with the Great Heart at the center of the universe, a place of indescribable Light and Love, with a big sign out front that says, ‘Welcome Home!’

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10 thoughts on “Measuring Self-Esteem When Unemployed

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Pam. So often people have a hard time putting themselves into others’ shoes, which is the basic tenet of compassion. The problem is when our system is so skewed toward the rich and so many are hurting so much, there is less and less energy left for compassion. You know, like that old airplane safety announcement to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help your dependents, the problem is when too many of us can barely survive it is difficult to muster up the energy to help others. That’s why I think it’s important to have a system that helps the weakest among us, health care for all, etc. Even at the risk of some abuse, by giving everyone access to the basic needs in life (food, shelter, health care) we are also giving everyone the capacity to be compassionate.

    And thanks for sharing your personal trials, you are a brave soul!

    • Hi Sven, thank you for stopping by and for commenting. I’m with you a hundred percent, and let’s add equal education and opportunity to that list of basic needs.

  2. I’ve worked for twenty years on coming back from a combo of chronic fatigue and muscle problems (some say fibromyalgia but I don’t think so) that started out with every muscle in my body twisted into steel rods (and I mean every). I’ve so often experienced other people’s attitude that I’m just lazy; it was kind of nice to see someone else mention the same experience; if they can’t see it you don’t have it… I think people tend to blame the unemployed for their plight too…

    • Wow, my muscles twist into knots–but steel rods? I truly can’t imagine the pain. I am very sorry for all your losses–they must be many. I’ve been sick since August of 97 and still believe I can come back, same as you. Is this part of this illness? 🙂
      It’s so terrible to be judged wrongly. Anyone who has not been able to work, due to illness, accident or lack of jobs would gladly trade places with those who judge them.

  3. I think the same is true if your disability is mental illness. Now there is something that you can’t see physically and the blow to one’s self esteem is brutal. Thanks for sharing. Janice

  4. Wow…I love how brave you are about sharing your personal struggles, the wisdom you draw from those experiences, and the compassion you feel for others in the world. Kim

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