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Monday, August 23, 2010

never again

I had a bizarre dream on Saturday afternoon, one that woke me up in heart-racing breathlessness which led me to say out loud, "I had a nightmare" when I awoke.

J said there were no monsters in the dream after I recounted it to him, and I realised too, there weren't any horror elements of the usual kind in it.

One of the facets of that bizarre dream was that I found myself once again working for a corporation, one with offices and cubicles and bosses that berate me for constantly being ill. No doubt my work in the dream was truly a dream come true - fundraising for charity causes - the air in the office was stifling because I was a pariah, one who couldn't keep her health up to not fall sick so often, one that couldn't work the full week, every week, because of sickness.

I realise I never again will be able to work full-time in a normal environment that everyone else does - chugging the train in the morning, every day to work, five days out of seven, twelve hours out of twenty four. Simply because: I will always be sick.

My doctor asked me recently how normal I rate my life to be right now, and my answer was: 30% normal. I cannot work more than I already am, which isn't very much. I get exhausted. I fall ill with something, physiological or psychosomatic whatever, every so often. I have been struggling with such ill health since my early twenties which now makes it a decade of constant sickness and saying sorry to people.

Perhaps I am destined to be a freelancer, as I have been for the past few years because my sickness became so overwhelming I had to take a break to almost die. Now I am 30% living a normal life, and I have to be content that I can no longer be the workaholic over-achiever I intend to be when I enjoy my work. I have to be content with having insecure finances at times, the unfortunate effect of being a freelancer. I have to realise I don't need to work all the time. I have to realise it is not a blessing to be overworked: passion can go too far and kill me. And one thing is for sure, I will never again step into the office scenario in that bizarre Saturday afternoon dream - because I will make my own way, and set my own rules, according to my health.

Maybe, one day, I will regain superb health and be able to become a workaholic again. But for now, the rules need to be re-written for I cannot endure yet another decade of apologising for being sick all the time, wearing sackcloth everyday for being someone who cannot 'manage' her health.

Some people are horrible workers with excellent health. Some are in between, average workers with average health. These people occupy most of the cubicles in that nightmare-office scenario. As for me, I believe I am good at whatever I do because rarely do I endeavour anything I don't excel in. But my penance for that is that I have horrible health. Where in the world is there a place for someone like me? I am a misfit.

The bizarre dream culminated in an investigative journalist threatening to expose me as someone who, using the public's charitable investments, was constantly taking time off work and thus an equivalent to an embezzler of donations. It was a nightmare because I would have to apologise, once again, for being someone who was constantly ill and not able to work like a normal person. I know we don't have true investigative journalists in Singapore, but the dream seemed real. I was going to be declared in print to be a fraud because of my ill health. It was truly a nightmare. Thankfully, unreal.

Perhaps a warning it was. A warning to be content with my current freelancing charity worker - thus poor - status. A warning to never again, subject myself to a corporation.

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