Guess what, I retired. Officially, but somehow in my mind… temporarily?
Ok, I don’t think taking a temporary break from work is called retirement. Traditionally that’s a vacation. I really did retire though. I no longer work for Muslimmatters.org, and it’s purely because I didn’t have the energy to anymore. Chronic illness is no fun. I’m really not writing or making videos or recording podcasts anymore, and I’m not expected back any time soon. So why do I consider this temporary?
Maybe it’s because I have internalized the malignant capitalist mentality that not working is “doing nothing” or “wasting time.” I’m not wasting time though. In my case, not working means getting physical therapy, following up on medical appointments, and living in a way that preserves the functionality of my body and mind instead of burning both ends of my candle with a blow torch.
Besides, being chronically ill is a full time job almost. There are roughly 20 weekdays in a month, and I spent 15 of them at medical offices on average. Between my medical needs, the kids’, and physical therapy for everyone except the cat, I’m not home much.
My energy goes into driving, cooking, and existing. But you know what? It’s nice to be able to sleep when I’m tired. I finally feel like there is just enough on my plate to handle instead of too much for too long, Alhamdulillah.
Yes, it was hard to retire. I spent too many years believing my self-worth was tied directly to my utility. It’s been hard, but important for me, to accept that a person who sits at home existing in the worship of Allah – and nothing else – if they are doing their best, then they are not doing “nothing.” They are doing the best they are capable of, and that’s awesome.
Internalized ableism. Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe the belief that someone who can’t work full time, or can’t earn an income, or can’t volunteer, or can’t donate money is pure, malicious ableism. Having a disability doesn’t make you useless, and people who are disabled don’t need to justify their existence through external productivity, not even tp themselves.
I tell myself I’ll be able to go back to work one day. That I’ll be stronger, smarter, healthier and totally full of ideas. I tell myself not because I believe it, but because I’d rather not believe that I can no longer be productive in traditionally professional capability.
Productivity is a false god. Allah is much kinder to us than that.