I’ve been thinking a lot about the federal workers who aren’t being paid. I can’t help but be reminded of my days on medical leave during a cancer.
It clearly wasn’t my fault I wasn’t able to work, to make money. This was my third cancer diagnosis and during the first two, I worked, quite a bit. This time was demoralizing because I was more than capable of working half days. Despite it being a serious diagnosis … my treatments were targeted and less difficult on my total body. The corporate company I worked for insisted that my doctor write a note recommending full medical leave because the insurance company mandated it. But this isn’t a blog about the dysfunction of insurance companies. My doctor did write that note much to his unease and concern for what it would do to my self-esteem.
I was pissed. Not work. Not even part-time. I’d been working in some capacity since I was 14. Talk about a self-esteem blow. The last thing you need while trying to ‘stay positive’ fighting cancer is feeling like a second-class citizen. The last thing you need while trying to provide safety to America is feeling like a second-class citizen. These are hard working folks, planning for pensions in some cases which creates a different mindset around saving when retirement is ‘guaranteed.’ And now what, they suck because they don’t have extra cash for groceries. None of this is their fault. They have done nothing wrong. Wow! My anger is boiling when I compare my previous handcuff to an insurance company mandate with government workers being held hostage because of ….
This following are tips I learned that might be helpful to the 800,000 Federal Workers:
- It’s not your fault and own that in a neutral way. Be pissed for a hot minute. I know the anger is unavoidable but get passed it quickly. In your most neutral, unemotional voice … repeat … “This is not my fault. I have done nothing wrong.” Pundits can go on cable news and say whatever they want about how much savings you “SHOULD” have, it’s all PR bullsh!t. It’s easy to feel emotional about money, savings, investments, blah, blah, blah. You have a good job and you work hard at it. Your financial health is where it is and lack of a paycheck causing chaos does not make you a bad person. Just like a cancer diagnosis doesn’t make you a bad person. Even if you “SHOULD” eat better. You aren’t to blame.
- Be Proactive with bills and debt. Everyone I owed monthly payments to knew I had cancer. I started making phone calls. Credit Cards were great about me skipping a payment. Deferring payments and other creative ideas were offered by them. My bank was amazing. My school loan payments were put on hold for over a year. I didn’t fake any tears on those calls, I unemotionally explained my current situation and asked for support with the assumption that they have plans for when people are diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer. And they did. They have plans for you too. Don’t wait to see if Nancy and Don figure it out. Don’t wait for your boss to send a letter. Make the calls knowing that you do have some power over what is happening by stating facts and working towards mutual solutions/relief.
- Pride Be Damned. If a genie showed up and granted me 3 wishes, my Number 1 would be to banish pride from the planet. I’m so over pride. It’s anger’s cousin. Yes, yes … we talked about being pissed. Yes, be pissed then do something else and be pissed again later when you get back to working. Part-time work is underrated. I say it all the time. “Oh no! My neighbor might see me working at Kohls and think I don’t have any money saved.” Your neighbor will never look down on you. How could they possibly when they can’t stop doing the math on their own savings account? Part-time work provides routine, a place to get out of your head, and feel worthwhile temporarily. All of that is worth minimum wage. Trust me!
- Seize the Day. Take this opportunity to rest. Learn something new. I decided to work my way through the original Betty Crocker Cookbook. Pre-Julie Powell, if only I would have blogged about it, then Amy Adams could have played me in a movie. I know that’s a sh*tty example for people who are waiting in food bank lines. But there are other things that you can occupy your mind with. Arts and crafts that are half finished. Read that book you bought 6 years ago that’s buried in a drawer.
Please share this with any federal workers you know that might find it helpful. Please encourage them to turn off cable news. This is not their fault and it will be okay.