Ben has a chance at a job. A real job. Minimum wage, yes, but for him to make it to a second interview, and then to a possible job offer for the summer…well, the tears I feel remind me that I hadn’t really even dared to dream this for him. Ben hasn’t had a job in eight years, since he was twenty years old.
He is so excited – it’s the validation, the possibility he may be able to earn money, be useful, have something to say about his life other than “I live with roommates and do volunteer work” and – lately – “I go to school part-time”, a miracle in itself . He is also facing, suddenly, questions like:
- What will come up in a background check? Will the employer know about my hospitalizations and diagnosis?
- Will I lose my SSDI? SSI? State help? Medicare? Medicaid?
- What is a “Ticket to Work”, and do I have one?
- Will I lose respect and the chance at this job if I reveal my diagnosis?
Practically, I was able to find answers by calling Ticket to Work, and by visiting the Social Security Work Website
The emotional questions are the ones that are more difficult to face
– but Ben is asking those questions, and setting his limits as to how much he wants to, or has to, reveal. His dignity is so at stake; still, I’m amazed and proud at what he’s doing: calling his job coach himself, contacting other so-called “experts”, formulating exact answers to the questions that may come up. He has more than risen to this occasion. Again, the happy tears.
And the fears, which I am trying to ignore.
Will this be too much for Ben? Will he be able to get to work at 8:30 AM each day? Will the no-smoking rule cause problems for him, even though he says it is not an issue? Will the stress cause a relapse? Shouldn’t he take a lesser, part-time position?
But these are Ben’s decisions, not mine, All I can do is help with the research and share the information with him and his providers. Then let go. And have faith: faith that he can handle 32 hours of work each week, and still keep up with 6 college credits. And not break under the stress.
Nothing would make me – and Ben – happier.