A personal crisis, advice and prayers needed
  • Hi all,

    I'll try to keep this short and relatively straightforward. I took up a "day job" in the waning moments of graduate school, doing the one thing I love almost as music as music-gardening. I worked that job for two and a half years and long story short was not treated well and left in December after many tortured months of being afraid to quit. A week later, I interviewed with a large and prestigious florist in my area and was hired on the spot. It's the kind of place that you don't get into unless you know someone who knows someone else's third cousin's girlfriend's uncle, so it was a surprise to say the least. They like me, there's opportunity to move up, and I get free flowers to take home every week. Great, right?

    No. The dark feeling that I'm not doing what I'm really called to do is still there. I go through the motions and tell myself "I have to do this to support my family" (which is true), or "maybe if I increase the dose of my meds then I won't be able to feel miserable or feel anything at all and I can survive this." It's awful. There's only so many hours in the day and by the time I go to work, get home, make dinner, do whatever chores need done, there's nothing left. Practicing? What's that? I can't even think. I can't even answer the phone because I'm so burned out.

    After rehearsal last Sunday with the period orchestra, I had a few beers when I got home and came to the conclusion that I despise my work and want to quit everything. I want to dedicate myself to studying organ and invest my time and energy into making that a full time job someday.

    I was so distraught after finally being honest with myself that I called off on Monday, said I was sick. I guess in a way, I was. Then the holiday bills arrived in the mail and the old familiar chain yanked on my neck and off to work I went on Tuesday.

    Maybe it's just the time of year. The sun hasn't been out in a month. I feel like everything I do is somehow wrong. It doesn't help that I've had family members make disparaging comments about my
    career choices, both in music and out of music. I really don't know what I'm "supposed" to do with my life anymore. I guess I was hoping by my age that would be a little more clear.

    Sigh. :-(
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,501
    I suppose this is a common story among artists--but that doesn't make it much easier to endure.

    Philip Larkin even wrote a poem about similar feelings. It's called Toads.

    Best wishes on your discernment! You are in my prayers.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,306
    Could you remind us what your husband does for a living? Are you willing to relocate? There are jobs out there, for sure, but there might not be a job that is good for you in your immediate area.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • Relocation is not an immediate possibility. My husband is a supervisor and IT manager for a private school for special needs children. He just started working on his master's for educational administration and school principal licensure. That program will take him approximately two to two and a half years to complete.

    I am open to relocation if and when it becomes feasible for us.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    You have to do what is best for your family. I know we all love church music, but there is nothing wrong with taking a break from it and re-grouping. I can only tell you what I would do. Do the best job possible with your primary job and let God handle the church music. If he wants you in it, He will find a way. Perhaps he wants you in it, but not at this time in your current parish. He handles details better than I have ever been able to, and can do the same for you.
  • CharlesW, my problem is with the day jobs, not the church music. I'm considering leaving my non-music work completely to spend more time with church music. Hope that makes more sense...
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    leaving my non-music work completely

    Hope this doesn't sound too Prot-Work-Ethic, but if you cannot pay your bills on the church stipends, then you're making a bad choice. It's one thing if it's only you, yourself. It's another thing entirely with chilluns in the house.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    One more thing: a wise old priest (and CMAA guy, to boot) once reminded me that there are two sorts of suffering offered to Christians: purgatorial and 'temporal.' Temporal refers to 'in this life.' If you're sinless--fine--then offer your suffering for MY sins, or those of CharlesW (etc.)
  • I expect to feel that exhausted after work for about 3-4 weeks after I start ANY new job: you're meeting new people, learning new routines, don't have supportive relationships in place yet, still learning the unwritten rules about how the place works. It does settle down.

    And as much as you love church music - it's a risky career to be in, at least if you're Catholic (and I hear similar things from other churches too). Church law is such that you can be fired almost anytime that the PP changes. That can make supporting a family difficult.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • Scott_WScott_W
    Posts: 468
    Happy to provide prayer and encouragement, but I think you are going to need some heart-to-heart discussions with the flesh-and-blood around you.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    If you're sinless--fine--then offer your suffering for MY sins, or those of CharlesW (etc.)

    Offer them for dad29. He is wicked and needs them more. ;-)

    And as much as you love church music - it's a risky career to be in, at least if you're Catholic (and I hear similar things from other churches too).

    This is accurate. I wouldn't do it if I really needed the money. I tell folks who want to go into church music to always have something else to fall back on.

    Thanked by 2Kathy CHGiffen
  • I guess I'm fortunate to have other skills to "fall back on". I just wish they weren't draining the life and soul out of me. And yes, there are definitely parts of the church gig that also drain me. I've reached a point in life where 99.999999% of my existence is spent doing things for the benefit of others, be it my congregation, my boss, my
    family, and so forth. It is frustrating because as a Catholic we're taught that's how you're supposed to live your life, but what happens when a life comprised of nothing but service to others starts to tear you apart?
  • Oh..just so y'all don't think I'm a total Debbie downer, the sun finally came out here today. I was very appreciative of that little gift this morning. :-)
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    Offer them for dad29. He is wicked and needs them more. ;-)

    Nolo contendere

    Here I was, simply trying to share grace.....
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Having left a church music job last summer, I was finding it tough to feel connected with the liturgy. I started to pick up the Liturgium Horarum (OF Latin) through online and iOS app sources, singing the proper chants and hymns as possible through Gregobase etc. With my family life and job searching, it was unsustainable, and I received other liturgical (Psalms) resources for Christmas, but it was my way of joining the liturgical life of the Church with beauty, even if only on my own, since the local parish (beautiful church and good pastor) uses Gather...

    For the time being, I am happy with my little arrangement in the "messiness of family life" (a confessor's term), since personally I am not being called to direct sacred music, it seems.
    Thanked by 2CCooze Vilyanor
  • JesJes
    Posts: 576
    Have you gone to our Lord in adoration and asked for help to find this answer?
    Have you sought help from you spiritual director?
    Have you discussed this with a good Catholic psychologist? It sounds like you've hit a circuit of negative thoughts that are reeling on the edge of a despair wheel. It's worth having a serious chat.
    Consider trying for some church music jobs and see how you go, okay, a little out of practice maybe but that's to be understandable with kids and full time day work. A good priest seems to consider the potential of their organist/choral director to do ministry in their church. Sure, some will look for experience, flashy technique, skills already in practice but my experience (in Melbourne) is that most priest's I've met sigh relief when you're honest, can show potential to rattle their parish into action and show dignity and responsibility towards the duties of your life, such as children, elderly, etc.
    What about our lady undoer of knots for this one?
  • Can you live with less? Is your day job worth sustaining any luxuries (e.g. Christmas gifts) you have? It might be worthwhile to examine your family budget to find what "superfluities" you could cut that would allow you to quit the flower job. But if you're determined to work and just don't happen to like what you're doing, there may not be a way out.

    What is your vocation? How does your working outside the home fit in with that? Yesterday, our priest gave a wonderful homily on the meaning of vocation. He said, we should ask God not "What do You want me to do?" but "Who do You want me to become?"
  • Reval
    Posts: 181
    I advise giving up chores. : )
    Can you just focus on getting through winter (or whatever will help), and then try to move up in the job? As in more $$? Or a higher-paying job that will allow you to not feel so stressed, or would give you a little more free time somehow?
    You have my sympathy - - I think we'll all had times where we feel like we are not in the right place / job / career etc. I'm sure you'll figure things out - - January is hard! : )
    Thanked by 1FidemInFidebus
  • I hear details about job, church job, organ, chores - - is there a spouse in your life? Is that relationship in balance

    Relocation is not an immediate possibility. My husband is a supervisor and IT manager for a private school for special needs children.

    Thanked by 1Reval
  • My husband is very helpful, as much as someone who works 50 or more hours a week can be. I have no issues with division of labor at home.

    @teachermom24: If I lived with any less than what we do right now, we would be back on food stamps. Not happening. Our combined incomes barely cover the mortgage, payment on the ONE car we share, utilities, groceries, etc. There is nothing left for savings or emergencies.
    Hopefully that will change someday.

    I enjoy the work I do, but I don't know how far I want to take the floral thing. There is opportunity where I am to move up, but I just started there and it won't be for a while. I dislike feeling forced or trapped into working outside of music, but that's how it is. I definitely don't want to be a full time stay at home parent, either. Did it for three years and suffered from serious manic depression and was almost hospitalized, not cut out for it.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,306
    I'll send you a PM on Facebook, Fidem
  • What is your vocation? How does your working outside the home fit in with that?

    Would you ask a male poster the same question?
  • No, I wouldn't. Mothers and fathers are not the same.
    Thanked by 4Ben tomjaw dad29 canadash
  • Oh God no, please don't bring all that feminist gender crap to this discussion. And, for the record, I don't consider being a parent a vocation. It's one part of a whole, not the whole itself. Or something. Yeah just don't even go there right now, theres enough on Facebook and everywhere else.

    Furthermore, not making any assumptions or calling anyone out here, but if you are here to lecture me on how I should just stay home "barefoot and pregnant" and the like, please quietly excuse yourself from my thread.
  • AMAJ
    Posts: 26
    I have no advice but will pray for you. I share in your struggles when there is no sunshine for more than a couple days in a row. Every year I dread the weeks between Christmas and spring. I hope that if you do ever get to relocate it is to a sunnier climate!
    Thanked by 1FidemInFidebus
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    Is there something with the floral business you could do from home? Maybe you could do that & practice, too?
    Farmer's Markets, etc. Large businesses sometimes have a farmer's market day in their work week (I know that at least 2 of the main insurance companies in town have mini markets on Thursdays with flowers, meats, pastries, etc.)

    If you just hate flowers, now, then perhaps find something else to do from home.
    Give lessons? (people always suggest I do that, and the redundancy annoys me, so I apologize if everyone suggests the same to you, as well.) Maybe at a local church and/or homeschool co-op, so that you'll be at an organ/keyboard, anyway?
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,039
  • CCooze, I like the way you think. It would take some time to get everything together, but yes I have considered working from home. I need a little bit of money to invest in it though, and I'm not in a good place at the moment to save for that. But I have considered it.

    Teaching lessons, meh. I already have three kids of my own, don't care much for others LOL!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • BenBen
    Posts: 3,114
    Would you ask a male poster the same question?

    Only if you can find a male poster who could be a mother.
  • music123
    Posts: 100
    I am so sorry about what you are going through. I would encourage you to, as much as possible, try to coast for now while you investigate other options. As others have mentioned, starting a new job is always exhausting, for everyone. They also say to try to avoid major, life-changing decisions while going through a crisis. I will keep you in prayer. Music will be there for you, whenever you are able to dedicate yourself to it to whatever degree. God bless.
    Thanked by 1FidemInFidebus
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956

    Only if you can find a male poster who could be a mother.

    I take it you have never taught school. You'll get to be mother, father, counselor, friend, nanny, janitor - name your poison, it's there. LOL
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    I take it you have never taught school. You'll get to be mother, father, counselor, friend, nanny, janitor - name your poison, it's there. LOL

    That sounds an awful lot like a church choir director, too.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    To the O.P.: I have been there, too. It is called "Burn out".

    The best thing to do is take a vacation -- don't need to go anywhere; just don't do anything: don't look at a flower, don't think about choir. (Obviously, you'll still have to worry about the mundane chores of life like laundry, but maybe you can bribe your husband to do that!) You need some time to unwind: watch some mindless TV, read a book (one that has nothing to do with anything "work related"), just "veg. out".

    Most Dioceses give their employees two weeks vacation a year, which includes the weekends for people like musicians that mainly work thereon; you should take it now, you need to just shake off all the stress from the Christmas season, not just the church choir holiday stress, but the holiday stress from life. Personally, it is difficult for me to do this, I actually have to force myself to take a vacation, and it might be for you, too, but, of course, only you will be able to know that. When I have been in your position, I do this sort of "detox", and I emerge as a new person, ready to take on all of the problems that I get hit with. (And, believe me, there are many!)

    I hope that this, in some way, is helpful. Prayers and best wishes.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • @Salieri: Thank you for your kind words. Here's the ironic part-I just had a vacation LOL! For the first time in TWELVE YEARS, we went to Florida to visit the in laws (love them, lucky not to have in law problems!). Left on Dec 26th, got there on shortly after midnight on the 28th, mother in law kept the kids and put us up in a beautiful hotel around the corner from her house. It was 84 degrees and sunny. We went to the beach, kids saw the ocean for the first time, hunted for seashells with my daughter, younger son got stung by a jellyfish, I had many margaritas, baked myself silly in the sun, did absolutely nothing, felt amazing. Came back home Jan 3rd. Kept the amazing feeling for about a week after we got home. And now it's back to this.

    I can't say it enough but division of chores is quite equal in our house, and my husband does most of the laundry! (Ok that doesn't sound equal, but I do things like dusting, wiping kid fingerprints and kitty nose art off all the windows and doors, that he doesn't do. It balances out!) I will admit, however, that my "standard of living" when it comes to my house is pretty high. Many people have asked if I have a housekeeper. I'm a clean freak. There are reasons for that, the primary one being my own mother is a packrat and chronically cluttered and disorganized. I was the only one who kept her house clean growing up, and when I moved out the mess just got worse because I wasn't there to be her free help anymore.

    As for the new job....we'll see how it goes. All of the people there except maybe one or two are bitchy, catty women, and equally bitchy, catty gay men. My list of "do not trust" is growing quickly, which isn't a good sign, and one of the senior designers is deliberately intimidating towards me when the other designer I was hired to assist isn't there. She also tries to give me directions that are contrary to what I was told to do by the person that hired me, presumably to make it look like I'm not doing my job. It's pretty sad, and comical, considering this woman is at least sixty. Nothing is worse, it seems, than being a hard worker and not being afraid to show what you know. I wish I didn't have to look at a flower right now, believe me, but Valentine's Day is coming... :-O Maybe I will take a short "veg out" break once that is done.

  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    It seems to me that the problem is with the toxic people at the florists', and the sooner you remove yourself from them, the better. I'd stick out that job while looking for something else. This may sound strange, but have you considered perhaps looking into something a teller position at a local bank (not some huge thing like Bank of America, but a real local bank)? Some of the parishioners at my church are bank tellers, and they seem to enjoy their coworkers and customers, and, I imagine, that that position would attract more discrete, professional, and mature people, anyway. It's just a thought.
  • You wouldn't want me anywhere around money or people all day long. I don't like small talk and I'm terrible at math. I also think I would be bored out of my mind counting money all day. I enjoy the floral work because it is creative and gives me an "artsy" outlet I wouldn't have otherwise. And I get paid a little, too. But there aren't any normal people that work in the industry, as I'm discovering. Why should some bitter old lady push me out of doing what I enjoy? At any rate, I'm hoping the boss is in today because I plan on having a chat with her about it...
  • Jen
    Posts: 28
    In reading your first post, I immediately could sympathize. I've been in that spot a couple times - especially the feeling that I should just quit everything. When I find myself in that position - it has become a red flag that there is some spiritual warfare going on. The best advice I ever got for those kind of situations comes from the Ignatian rules for spiritual discernment.

    Rule #5:"In time of desolation never make a change, but be firm and constant in the proposals and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which one was in the preceding consolation. Because, as in consolation the good spirit guides and counsels us more, so in desolation the bad spirit, with whose counsels we cannot find the way to a right decision."

    I got this from Timothy Galagher's book "The Discernment of Spirits." Probably one of the most useful, practical, books on living a holy life that I've read in my life.

    I often find that as soon as I recognize the warfare is occurring and call it what it is - it eases up. Probably because I stop accepting the thoughts of wanting to quit as my own and I quit rehashing them. Then I wait for peace to come and then try to make decisions (if they need to be made).
  • music123
    Posts: 100
    Sorry to butt in here, but Jen, that is a great quote, and thank you for the book recommendation! I just ordered it!
    Thanked by 1Jen
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,501
    Another great book on discernment is Weeds Among the Wheat, which also mentions the Ignatian principle to not make decisions in times of desolation, "Unless you want the devil for your spiritual director."
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • On the other hand, as someone who has met Fr. Galagher and heard his extended presentations on the topic, please be careful to understand just what spiritual desolation is and understand it can differ considerably from what a psychologist calls depression or anxiety. While continuing on the coarse set may be the right advice if it is desolation you are facing, on the other hand at times we are unhappy because we are on the wrong coarse in life. Read the book, it will offer better advice than I can, after all I make rather a mess of the spiritual life and the practical aspects of life.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,501
    What is your vocation? How does your working outside the home fit in with that?

    I would ask a man this question. Both men and women need to look at their whole lives and how all the parts fit together. There are lots of men who take on extra jobs "helping" people with whatever it is that needs doing, taking away from family time. We all need to carefully analyze how we use our time and with whom we spend this precious resource.
  • Thanks for all of your advice and suggestions. I will definitely check out the book, interestingly I first encountered Ignatian spirituality during my thesis research, kind of a special subject for me. But right now I've got one kid with strep and another kid with pink eye, so basically everything comes to a grinding halt for the time being. (Spoiler alert: even mothers who work outside the home take time to care for their children, even if this
    mother DOES NOT receive PTO, sick leave, FMLA, or any of those other cushy middle class benefits. All I get is a big fat pay cut and a spot on the "list" of "those" employees who "always" seem to be taking time off because of their kids. Purple sort of but not really, y'all know I'm a snarky a** sometimes.) We're not as "selfish" as society makes you think!
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,156
    All I can offer is prayers.