Day 19 – The Work/Life Balance of the Unemployed

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I’m a complete jerk when I don’t get sleep. Erin likes to tell the story of the morning soon after we returned from our honeymoon. After a week of sleeping in for as long as we wanted and eating breakfast for lunch, we both had to get up early to go to work. She set the alarm for 6am and we needed to be up at 7am. When it went off, she hit snooze. When the alarm went off again 7 minutes later, she hit snooze again. When the alarm went off again 7 minutes later, she hit snooze again. And so on. After five or six times of this, I got up on all fours and started pounding on the bed like a gorilla, screaming “STOP HITTING THE SNOOZE! STOP HITTING THE SNOOZE! STOP IT!!!”

file0001558998064Erin started crying. Who was this beast she’d married? After calling her a crazy person for hitting snooze so many times, I calmed down and apologized. I explained that what she thought of as little reminders that she was still sleeping were devastating wake up calls for me. It takes me a full half hour to fall back asleep, if I get to at all. I’m an insomniac, what should be and what I’d rather doesn’t always matter.

So, when I say that today I woke up after only four hours of sleep for the second time in 48 hours, you can understand how potentially horrifying that could be to those I love. I’m not rational when I lack sleep. I’m not kind. I’m a gorilla.

Why so little sleep right now, when I have no job? I’m just so dang busy. I can’t sit around and wait and look for the right job. That would be have me busy in and of itself, but it’s not enough. I have to work. Whether on my own stuff or someone else’s, I’ve got to work. The freelance projects are coming in and last night I was up way past midnight working. This new self-determined schedule and extra time I have during the day, it’s so tempting. I can use it all working on things I enjoy! As someone who struggled every night after everyone else went to bed to get all my side projects done with whatever energy I had left over from my 9-to-5, I love being able to do things during the day.

However, there’s a cost.

My lack of sleep is wholly indicative of my struggle to achieve balance in my life right now. My schedule is so thrown out of whack and there are so many things to do. This blog, which I regard as important and accidentally great for networking, is one of those things that I must get to, every day. I have commitments to my online comic, The SuperFogeys. I have my kids. I have my wife. I have a book I’m writing. I have a job I’m looking for. I have a church calling. I have friends and extended family. Books I’ve read halfway. A grandmother I don’t ring up on the phone enough. Freelance.

None of these things are in the right order. Getting them in the right order is a minute-by-minute exercise I seem to always be failing.

Erin noticed this today. She confronted me directly and woke me up to the fact that I can’t do it. I can’t satiate my frenetic need to be constantly working. There’s always going to be more to do and more efforts we could make, but a break is sometimes necessary. Interacting with and taking care of the kids and cleaning the house is sometimes necessary because, newsflash, I’m not the only one with the no job problem. She needs to work on stuff, too. It’s an aspect of us both being out of work I’m ashamed to say I just didn’t consider seriously until now.

Of all the advice we get from those who have been through unemployment (for which I am grateful), no one has much to say about what to do when both spouses lose their jobs right on top of each other. There’s a different emotional component that comes into play, and further considerations that have to be made. I feel like I’m just beginning to understand that.

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