I’ve Had 3 Surgeries In 5 Months. My Mom Wants To Know Why I Don’t Have A Job

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

Every week, the Ask Becca column tackles life’s complicated questions, big and small! From sex and love to health and workplace problems, I’m here to address questions and concerns that we can all relate to.

Have a query of your own? Send it to! We sort through tons of reader submissions every week to look for questions that will help everyone in our audience deal with the complex ups and downs of the human experience.

There’s nothing better than starting a powerful conversation that brings people together. That’s why we also love to see you weigh in with your own advice in the comments section!

Last week, the column took on a new relationship with a younger man, a dad who left the picture, diminished sex drive, and the difficulties of a blended family.

This week, we’re addressing medical mysteries, political divisions, a bitter divorce, and the jump back into the job market.

Scroll through below to read my very best advice, and add your own words of wisdom.

If you have your own complicated questions and are in the market for some insights, shoot me an email at!

Photo Credit: Flickr / Mark Doliner

Sick And Tired

<u>Sick And Tired</u>
Laura Casely for LittleThings

Dear Becca,

Hopefully you have some insight for me. I’ve been very ill and I have no family in the area. I am struggling with the little things; even paying for food has become difficult.

My only support system is Facebook. My family gets upset that I share things on Facebook or ask for help when things are bad.

However, they do not attempt to help me and have flat out refused when I have asked. I don’t want to have a grudge against my family and I don’t want to upset them, but I also don’t want to lose my support through Facebook.

My mom’s concern is that future employers will see what I have been through and decide not to hire me because I’ve been sick in the past. (I’ve been in the hospital 10 times and have had three surgeries in five months. All hospital stays have been multi-day stays and the doctors have been unable to explain what is going on.)

I need help, but I’m unsure where to turn at this point.

-Confused and Alone

Dear C&A,

I’m so sorry that you’ve been going through the medical wringer. There’s nothing worse than feeling awful and having no idea what’s causing all the trouble.

I also agree that Facebook (and the internet in general) can be a lovely support system. That’s especially true when you’re stuck in a hospital bed and can’t socialize in person.

It also sounds like your family really isn’t there for you, which is a shame. Your mom should know better than to put so much pressure on you when you’re that ill.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with turning to online friends for help and emotional support in a time of need. However, I think it’s a good idea to be very careful about soliciting too much financial help from your friends online.

Asking for a ride to the hospital or company for dinner is totally fine, but if you frequently request money, you’re going to burn through a lot of goodwill quickly. In the end, if you abuse the kindness and generosity of your friends, you might find that your support system starts to fade away.

Here’s what I would suggest.

Cast out a wide net to all of your friends online with a new request: Ask if anyone knows of any part-time, low-impact jobs that are hiring, and ask if anyone knows of support groups and funds for people with chronic illnesses. Having a part-time job that you can do online and from home could help pay the bills, and help build up your résumé for future employment.

Meanwhile, having a support group that can help to fund medical expenses in a pinch is a great way to make sure that you have a well-informed safety net to turn to in an emergency. The HealthWell Foundation might be a good resource!

Who knows, you might even find a way to combine both goals. I bet there are a lot of chronic-illness support groups out there looking for part-time bloggers and social media specialists. That might be an ideal solution!

Best of luck, and here’s hoping that your health takes a turn for the better!


Stuck In The Middle

<u>Stuck In The Middle</u>
Laura Casely for LittleThings

Hi Becca,

My family is very divided when it comes to politics, especially my two sisters. One is very liberal, one is very conservative. We have a family reunion coming up where everyone will be there. I’m dreading the arguments that might happen.

What can I do to diffuse any “situations”? Do I change the subject? I love everyone in my family and want the event to be enjoyable for everyone, regardless of politics.

How can I make sure everyone stays civil? What should I say if someone asks me a loaded question?

-Tug of War

Dear Tug of War,

Oh boy. I hear you. Political discussions of any kind are a doozy this year.

No matter which side of the aisle you fall on personally, it’s tough to deal with the bitterness and resentment left behind after a tough election year.

As someone who wants to stay neutral in political conflicts, you’re in a very tough position. Of course, anyone in your family who is stirring the pot probably feels very strongly about their beliefs, and it might be hard to guide them back onto neutral ground.

A certain amount of political conflict just isn’t avoidable. People in your family are going to have to talk out some of their disagreements, otherwise that tension isn’t going anywhere.

However, in the interest of keeping the event pleasant for everyone, maybe you just have to take it upon yourself to be the referee.

If you spot a heated debate beginning, it might be your moment to drift in, an angel of neutrality. Try to turn the conversation away from politics to something less divisive.

If that doesn’t work, try to find some common ground; even your most partisan relatives might be surprised to find that they share a few core political beliefs.

Of course, if the debaters are just spoiling for a fight and can’t be turned away from the conversation, kindly suggest that they take their conversation elsewhere. If they want to get into an intense argument, they can do so in private without ruining the whole event and pulling everyone else into the disagreement.

Good luck keeping the peace!


Still Struggling

<u>Still Struggling</u>
Laura Casely for LittleThings

Dear Becca,

My ex-husband and I went through a very messy divorce, and even though it was a long time ago (10 years), I still struggle to get over what he put me through.

My whole life was torn upside down, financially and emotionally. I know it’s in the past, but I can’t get over what he did to me and took from me.

But I’m so sick of being bitter and angry. How can I forgive and move on? I’m ready to be happy again, but I don’t know how to let go.


Dear Divorcée,

There’s really no expiration date on an emotional, grief-laden experience like a divorce. People might tell you to “get over it,” but you’ll recover at your own pace. Whether it takes six months or 10 years, there’s no wrong way to mourn a complicated and painful marriage.

You express the desire to move on. Honestly, just saying those words is the first step. Wanting to move on proves that now, you’re ready to go ahead and leave the pain of the past behind you.

You don’t necessarily need to dredge up all the pain of the bad old days to feel better. Maybe go through all your mementos and shared stuff, and get rid of anything that is full of bad memories. Hang on to any shared stuff you really can’t bear to part with, though we’ll get back to that in a minute.

Take one day to think through your whole relationship with him, from start to finish. Try not to fixate too much on any high or low part, just allow yourself to follow the timeline.

When you reach the end of the relationship, say, “Thank you, John, for the experience of our marriage, good and bad. I forgive you for the bad, I’ll remember you for the good, and now I’m letting you go.”

Call me a hippie if you want, but this kind of symbolic ending can really, really help you close the book on a messy part of your life.

Next, a little more hippie stuff. Find a way to cleanse your space and any shared stuff you hang onto. Do whatever it takes to make your space and your memory feel fresh and clean and yours. Scrub it with Lysol and bleach, or smudge everything with sage smoke — whatever helps get to your idea of “cleansed.”

All that matters is that you do plenty of mental and literal spring cleaning and give yourself a fresh start.

With love and best wishes for a new beginning,


Ready To Retire

<u>Ready To Retire</u>
Laura Casely for LittleThings

Hi Becca,

My job is killing me and I want to start looking for a new one, but I’m turning 62 this year. Who is going to hire me at this age? I have years of experience, but people only seem to hire twentysomethings.

I need to pay my bills and I can’t retire, but I can’t keep going like this.

Do you have any interview tips for an old lady like me? Please help!


Burnt Out

Dear Burnt Out,

I’m sorry to hear that your job isn’t treating you well. The job market has never been very kind to older employees, and that has only become more complicated in recent years. The cost of living (and therefore the cost of retiring) has been rising and rising, but most companies aren’t upping their paychecks to match.

I think you have a few options here.

First and foremost, don’t count yourself out. There might be lots of companies that are only interested in hiring young whippersnappers, but there are still plenty of businesses that recognize the value of years of experience. You might actually be an ideal candidate for many companies, especially if you are keeping abreast of new developments in your field.

If your job involves new technology, new research, or anything else that didn’t exist when you first started out, get yourself up to speed. Make sure that you are just as much of an expert as any twentysomething who grew up on the computer.

It’s not easy, but it’s also far from impossible. If you can master those new trends, you can combine the expertise of a young person with the experience and maturity of an older employee. Believe it or not, that combo makes you the perfect hire for a new job.

As for interviewing, as long as you come in knowing your stuff about new developments in the field, you’ll blow the hiring manager away. As a mature adult woman with lots of professional experience, you are definitely going to make a better first impression than an unkempt 25-year-old in a too-big suit. Sorry kiddo, better luck next time.

Secondly, consider whether retiring is really as far-fetched as you think it is. You have three years before you hit “official” retirement age. What can you do in that time to help secure a comfortable future? Talk to a financial advisor about investing any savings you have, moving to a more affordable area, and cutting out unnecessary expenses.

With a few savvy financial choices, you might be surprised by how much a small nest egg can grow in just a few years.

You still might not be able to fully retire at 65, but you may be able to semi-retire if you play your cards right. You can take a step back from the working world, and put in maybe 20 hours a week, instead of forty. You’ll still have some income, and your stress will be lowered substantially. You may even find that work is a lot more fun (and more productive) when you’re only doing it 2o hours a week!

Show ’em that you’ve still got it!


Laura Caseley for LittleThings

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