Work

I have been unemployed an entire year. More of you count the months post surgery in 18/19. The financial burden is beyond stressful but I had committed to myself I would get through to January before making drastic changes.

While the job market opened up again in my industry in late August, I have had virtually no luck. I have had a lot of interviews but they tend to stall. Some go so well I can’t believe I never hear back from the company. Recruiters are rude and don’t answer emails once you are off their radar. I always ask for feedback when I follow up and I never get it. Not once.

I interview very well. My resume and LinkedIn look great. I know how to search for jobs. I have an underlying suspicion that during my nervous breakdown in 2018 between Tony and the job – I also created a bad reputation for myself. I’m unsure about this but people talk and I was not myself or at my best in 2018. People who know me prior to that last role always recommend me into their companies – and I always get the interviews that go well – and then, they just stop. No follow up from the recruiter (internal recruiters) or the people I spent time interviewing with. Nothing. Silence. I have convinced myself there is something out there I don’t know about regarding my reputation. I just can’t fathom how this keeps happening over and over for roles I am more than qualified for.

In addition, I never thought my experience and title would work so hard against me. I keep bumping up “overqualified” which I also believe is code for ageism, particularly in my industry. When I apply for any role behind one level down from where I was, the companies insist I am overqualified and wouldn’t be happy with the job. They don’t understand why I would take such a low level job.

I have exhausted all opportunities and companies on the East Coast that would be in my wheelhouse. I have applied and interviewed for roles with salaries at a level I haven’t seen since my late 20s/ early 30s. I am willing to take any role that gets me working again in an effort to keep my home for another year so my youngest can graduate high school. I am not fussed about title or level but I do have a minimum salary, which frankly, is a steal. I am willing to relocate.

Nothing is coming up. So many people think it’s easy enough to find jobs at the salary level I could accept – they know me and think it’s impossible “someone” wouldn’t want to hire me. I become frustrated almost instantly when someone tries to talk to me about alternative careers and how to go about getting into them. I have found there seem to be two camps of people. The first is people who have never left their industry, have a career in a very flexible discipline (education for instance) or have never been an executive. The second are the entrepreneurs who have always been the kind of person to chase something and make it happen and have a talent for being able to be successful because of a good decision earlier in their life (for example someone with an engineering or financial degree who leaves their original corporate job to start their own business – again, a flexible discipline). My background is very specific. Sure I have tons of skills that can work in other industries, but you need to know someone to open those doors and have them take a chance on you when you have no direct career correlation.

In other words, it’s bullshit to switch careers at 53 without the right educational foundation or some SPECIFIC skill set that can cross disciplines. I have tried multiple times and failed – even within my own industry. The one shot I had was because a friend opened a door for me and her boss was very engaged with me and willing to take a leap of faith (and then, covid). My entire network (personal and professional) doesn’t seem to have any contacts to help me. I’ve even networked in my fitness community and, while I had offers of help, none amounted to more than suggestions on how to approach a job search.

I’m tired of hearing from people with advice on how to change careers at my age. Yes, I know it’s possible but you need time and money to train and educate yourself for a major career overhaul and I am out of both. I do not have enough specific transferable skills. I cannot seem to get in front of anyone to convince them I could do a job where I don’t have the specific career grooming. One of my greatest skills is my ability to speak and hold an audience – once I learn a product I can master the rest. I’m not talking sales, I would be a horrible sales person, think more along the lines of product development. I know how to build product from the ground up and I believe the product itself shouldn’t matter – but companies do. And so many people are unemployed that the talent pool is massive.

Late September into early October I engaged with 3 large companies on the West Coast. One disappeared and fell off the radar and I don’t know why. One wasn’t ready to move forward due to their own reorganization. And one offered me a job. The one that offered me a job was at the lowest level and salary of which I’ve interviewed for and is clear across the country. Nothing about this role is ideal. But I accepted it and sit on a plane to go visit a city I’ve never been to.

I had no choice. I needed income and I need to be working. Right now the role is virtual so it buys me time. The people are just so lovely and wonderful but I never see myself being satisfied with the company and location. Had this same role been in any other East coast or even Midwest city, I would be probably in a totally different frame of mind.

The stress of being unemployed and then in accepting this role has created the worst migraines. I don’t like to play games – these are good people. I’m sure I can do well with the role (for fucks sake I should be able to do with my eyes closed). I want to do a good job, that’s just my DNA.

I am also heavily influenced by what other people think of me. In my head “look how far she’s fallen” keeps repeating itself. I know none of that should matter, the people I love are just happy I found a job finally. I don’t want to move to this place across the country. If I leave my kids I may never see them unless I travel back and the salary they are paying me won’t allow for that more than once or twice a year. I am sick with grief over thinking about selling a home I’ve lived in my entire life and upending my kids. They don’t even have a full home to go to since their Dad lives in his mother’s basement and the upstairs home only has 2 bedrooms that won’t fit 3 adult kids.

I realize this is a rant but I get angry when I think about my entire career going to waste like this. I did what I had to do by taking this role. I will continue to do what I need to do to remain employed. I’m just miserable. And if I have to actually sell my home and move, I worry if I’m just heading myself right back into another break with reality.

I am so confused….. (Part 2)

For the first time, since Tony, I was so confused about how to move forward. The difference now is that I’m not in love with Scott so the overwhelming emotional component is missing – so why am I so conflicted when my heart isn’t involved?

I finally realized through my reading on intuition that it was because my gut was involved when I didn’t even know it. The battle I had been waging was between my gut and my head, rather than my heart and my head. That’s interesting.

While I’ve detailed so many of his good qualities, there are several that have concerned me from the beginning. I know before I wrote this how shallow some of them sound and all I can say is this: I was raised very differently from Scott, we did not start from the same place and life experiences shape us.

Scott was born into a poor family in the Midwest, the actual backwoods. His family kicked him out in 7th grade and he had to stop school and earn a living. He was married by the time he was 18 and she was pregnant. Knowing he needed to make a change and support his new family, he joined the service for 4 years. Some time after service, he realized he needed more than selling cars or working in warehouses so he went to school and obtained his Bachelors degree. Some time after that he began working for the government and subsequently earned two masters degrees, one being from Columbia. He was in a long and failing marriage that produced two daughters. One who he is very close to and one who doesn’t speak to him. Post his divorce he became involved with a married woman for 3 years. That relationship ended entirely about 6 months before we met. Like me, they were always on and off and he dated during the years of the affair. He owns a home and is stable financially. He has come a long, long way from an uneducated kid from the sticks.

I was raised with everything given to me and my education was expected as well as paid for by my parents. While I made missteps educationally, I fell into management and had pursued a career that was lucrative until 2018. You know I’m spoiled and have been around middle class money for my entire life. I never really struggled to put food on the table the way Scott did. My arguments with my x revolved around how much money I should spend on vacation. I am not frugal and always believed I would earn a pretty decent living. I bought my home post divorce and was going to be able to contribute significantly to my kids college educations. Once I left my role in 2018 and had surgery I never regained my financial or career footing. However, my expectation of my own income and financial situation never faltered, not until very recently. I admire ambition and career success that nets a large financial gain. Since my divorce, that has always been a significant attraction because my x was willing to allow me to bear the financial burden of the lifestyle we were living and I never wanted to feel that way again. Money and earning potential had become much more important to me post divorce because of my experiences during marriage. It actually became a dating qualification. I had grown used to some luxuries that I provided to myself and I didn’t want to give them up. I had fought too hard for status.

Scott works for the government and, as everyone knows, the government caps salaries no matter how good (or bad) you are at your role. Because of this, the government employees also are known to rest on their laurels and do the minimum required work once they pass a certain time in the job. The private sector would fire incompetent or lazy employees, while the public sector tolerates this for some reason and makes it very, very hard to fire someone. The stability associated with a government job as well as lack of incentive breeds a sort of laziness that’s commonly known. This is NOT Scott by any means, I am just trying to set the stage. Government employees also work very standard hours. You put in your 40 hours and not a minute more because there is no incentive to do so. This also creates a fabulous work life balance because the hours are dependable and stable. As long as the employee is willing to sacrifice earning potential, a government role isn’t a bad one to have and why most people never leave them despite their apathy towards their jobs.

Of course I am over generalizing as well as stereotyping. But, based on my experiences, this sort of apathy does exists and breeds a sense of arrogance in government employees. They know they can’t get fired, they know they only need to put in the minimum effort and once they reach the ceilings of their roles, they become big fish in small ponds and that creates a whole other sense of bravado. And this IS Scott. He’s at the top of his game and will likely be in this salary pool and role for quite some time until his boss leaves. He has no desire to go after more because he likes his 40 hours a week and is satisfied with his salary. He has come from nothing so where when is today is a great achievement and it’s ENOUGH for Scott.

But Madeline is wayyyyy more judgmental coming from corporate America and the private sector. Where the harder your work the better potential for financial gain. Where hours and work/life balance are irrelevant. Where you get bonuses, perks and promotions that you and everyone around you equate with success. Where you never assume you are safe or stable so you work harder in the hope it offers some protection when the layoffs come.

With those explanations, the divide between Scott and I becomes evident. He is a big fish in a small pond and definitely has an arrogance and bravado because of it. He also has a lot of time at work to chatter and gossip (I tell him he’s a wash woman and he admits to it). My experience as a leader has taught me not to gossip at work or even be perceived as a friend to all my employees. Scott says the government doesn’t have barriers like this – everyone is friendly with everyone because some people never change level but are age peers. Scott is satisfied with “enough”. The biggest criticism from my marriage and even my children is that it’s “never enough” for me. And that’s true.

I perceive it like this, if Scott is as good as he brags to be (another quality I do not like at all) then why doesn’t he leave and go make double or triple the money he claims he can make in the private sector? He says it’s because he doesn’t want to work any harder – he did it enough when he was young and he’s satisfied with what he’s accomplished. I thumb my nose at this since he’s only 46. I feel he’s too young to be so complacent.

But, that me. He’s happy. He’s satisfied with what he has and what he’s achieved. My fear is that my judgement, which has always existed (it’s not new, I’ve always felt this about people) is never going to go away and I may ultimately resent him the way I resented my x for never wanting “more”. I do feel he should be proud for what he’s achieved from where he started, but I don’t feel a man should be done at such a young age.

That’s the worst of my snobbiness out of the way. It covers almost all the qualities I dislike about Scott: lack of drive or ambition, arrogance/bravado (big fish in a small pond), gossip, braggart and the stereotype of a government job personality.

Unfortunately, there are other concerns.

I am not especially attracted to Scott. I thought he might grow on me but he isn’t. He’s not ugly by any stretch of the imagination and he’s very fit and pretty rock solid. He even has most of his hair! He is a bit short for my taste but still taller than me so I’m trying to let that one go. It’s just his overall appearance isn’t “doing it” for me. Combine this with ok sexual chemistry (not horrible but definitely not great) and I’m worried we have a toxic combination. I don’t find myself wanting to call him handsome or wanting to explore his body. Sex has improved but he has already told me I’m the best sex he’s ever had. He has been patient to learn what I like or don’t because sex in the beginning was close to bad. I’ve had some seriously amazing sexual partners – so should I be worried? My older friends tell me to forget about this. If sex is good enough I should be fine. We are getting older not younger. He never pressures me sexually but he really isn’t intuitive. He fumbles more than I would like for someone who claims to have had many partners. I hate being the leader because it leaves me with no desire. This one combined with the job situation worries me.

We come from different classes. Should this matter in this day and age? I didn’t think so exactly but I can see it pretty clearly with Scott. Being raised in a city or suburb of a city versus the middle of the country just creates a whole different person. Can you change that? Probably. He surprises me with some things like understanding some fashion brands but then there are other things that I just don’t get. Like shooting squirrels and throwing them in the grill. I’m unsure which divides can be crossed and which don’t matter. He’s also just lacking that “cool-factor” because of this. Again, not sure how much it matters except that sometimes he really does come across as a hick and I feel a little embarrassed. Luckily he has never done this in public, only in private.

Scott can also irritate me pretty quickly. He often starts stories in his head and then finishes them out loud, leaving me to decipher what he’s talking about and me getting frustrated with an unclear story. For someone as smart as he is, it’s all book smart. He definitely has trouble getting his thoughts out of his head in a cohesive manner.

His humour is a bit low brow for me. Reminds me of my x but I can manage this. He does come from the middle of the country.

So it’s sort of like 3 big negative buckets:

The job/ambition and the type of behavior a government job has created in him

Attraction

Class

I thought I was getting this out in 2 posts and clearly I can’t. So the rest has to wait for part 3!

Losing Hope

It’s very hard to stay positive and motivated. I often feel anxious, sad and desperate.

I’ve been out of work and out of relationship too long. While I do some activity to stay healthy, I’ve started eating poorly again and can feel how that’s affecting my body. I’ve started craving carbs again. I got on the scale and have hit a heavy weight I didn’t think I would see again. I promised my self after all I’ve been through that I wasn’t going to let more than 10 pounds go – so that means I’m shutting down any bad eating habits this week. I had to gain weight after the fistula but I should have stopped and watched what I was doing. I mistakenly assumed with all the exercise I wouldn’t gain but that’s not the case.

I’m in one of two places: busy or desolate. On the busy days, I can’t even handle too many things at once. When my day gets too full I feel pressure. I don’t know if this is simply a side effect of being out of work so long or an actual change in ability to perform. Busy days now don’t even compare to what my traditional busy days were like. I get tired so much faster. If I go out with friends at night I need a full day to recuperate.

I’m afraid to do my bills and look at my debt. I’ve been unable to get a handle on it. I am actively avoiding trying to do something about it.

The thought of a backup plan is a reality now and I don’t have one. I just assumed I would be able to get a job like I always have. Any job. But there are none. No adjacencies, no lower paying roles, just nothing available to me. I should try harder but I’m blocked here as well. I’m letting my life slip away from me.

The rejection from dating combined with being out of work can be debilitating but my internal pressure to find a partner, even short term, is as desperate a feeling as finding a job. I keep thinking if I can at least have one stable thing to look forward to each day a partner would be a welcome change. But that’s not happening either.

I don’t speak to people about how I feel. How can they help me anyway? I feel like a burden again and I don’t want to be that. So many people just don’t understand depression and I can’t manage hearing “you’ll get through this” or “you will find a job, you always do” anymore. I just can’t. I know the only way through this is to help myself but I’m genuinely stuck trying to figure out how to move forward. The feeling of being disconnected from everyone and everything is very strong. My sister barely communicates with me and I attribute that to the comment I made to her last September that was unkind. Some days I want to ask her what’s up but most days I don’t really want to hear what she might have to say. If she really cared she wouldn’t be holding one comment against me for going on 6 months. And she would reach out more often. I am always the one asking to see her and reaching out and I’m tired of it. My best friend is the same thing. I am always reaching out and asking to see her and she is always preoccupied. I can’t help but wonder if I’ve alienated them or it’s actually just that they are genuinely busy with life. I remember how everyone told me how important I was after Mexico was over and how I should never do that again – that people love me and care for me. If they do, if those words were true – wouldn’t they be trying harder after realizing how I felt back then? That I was struggling with being alone and being a failure? I know you can’t force people into relationship but I’m getting to a point where I’m feeling like I am the problem. There’s something with me or about me that makes people not want to be in relationship with me. It’s very hard not to feel this way and I acknowledge I’m having pity for myself which is unhealthy, but it’s very hard to escape. I am back to feeling like I am not anyone’s #1 and it’s horrible. My entire life I’ve spent just wanting to be “that one” to someone, anyone. I didn’t get it from my parents or my x. I don’t get it from my children. For me this is a very deep-seated emotional need. While I have found many ways to feed my own self-love, I haven’t found any way to fill the bucket enough to feel fulfilled.

Therapy would be great but I don’t have the money. I think working would actually be better therapy for me than anything. Exercise this past 2 weeks is tough because I have some hip problem which I’m hoping isn’t arthritis. We ruled our nerve damage but now probably need more X-rays or MRI’s on the hip. I’m still exercising but I need more to work out some of this cray.

Frame of Mind

It’s been a minute since I’ve written.

To be honest, I don’t have much going on.

Not much is going on. My sister got married and I’m glad the wedding is over and the relationship tips back to normal. I realized I didn’t feel very good through most of this prep. In some ways, I feel like an imitation sister. I’ve been adopted my whole life and never really felt quite like I did during the wedding. I felt like a throw-away, someone she had there because she had to, not because she really wanted to. I felt the strength of her connections with her friends and felt like an outsider. It’s not me she relies upon or me she calls for advice. I’m not even sure how to cultivate a better relationship with her exactly. I don’t get the sense it’s something she really wants – or wants more of. I’m unsure what I want from relationship with her. I suppose it’s just one more person I don’t feel important to and this seems to be a theme in my life.

I was asked to do a podcast, two actually. One was about life struggles and how individuals overcome them and the other is about strong, accomplished women. I finished the first one and found the process super interesting. In the first pass, I understood the interviewer wanted to focus on the Mexico story and travel weight-loss surgery. I was able to tell the sorry quite easily with no emotion and plenty of humor. In the actual interview, there was a significant change to my story because all my emotions were stirred up (made for a very good interview). The emotions caught me by surprise. I have pretty much buried Mexico and what happened to me. The horror of that experience is not something I want to revisit. I acknowledge I carry a great deal of shame for choosing weight loss surgery, wanting to die and subsequently what happened to me post surgery. In particular, I purposely try not to dig too deeply because of the one fact that continues to haunt me: no one came for me. Even when I begged, no one cared enough to come for me. I was dying at one point, I was terrified, and those closest to me couldn’t come.

Logically, I understand why. Emotionally, I can’t address it because I don’t see any other choice but to forgive them and accept what’s happened. They made a choice the same way I made a choice. I don’t think they didn’t come to penalize me, I just think they had other priorities. I don’t even know what I would have done had the tables been turned. Which leads me to a feeling I’ve buried most of my life and pushes me to the outskirts of my depression – I am not anyone’s priority.

We spoke about this in the interview and I definitely had a hard time working through this part of the story. In the end, we edited it out because I don’t want to upset the people who were there for me. And they WERE there. Just, perhaps, not physically. I am worried if I were to ever express the truth of how I felt that I would be considered ungrateful. After all, Mexico was my bad choice and I should live with its consequences.

Since the interview I’ve been struggling with these thoughts because, like I mentioned, I’ve buried them pretty deeply and they simply only cause emotional distress for me. I also don’t see a way to resolve these feelings other than learning to accept what’s passed and move on.

But then there are days, and unfortunately there are many of them recently, where the thought of not being anyone’s priority eats me alive.

My long time closest friend, the Spanish speaker who translated Spanish for me while I was in Mexico, changed all my bandages when I was home, my maid of honor and godmother to my son, is always too busy for me. I never see her or speak to her and I’ve grown tired of constantly asking to see her. She finds time for what’s important to her and I’m not it. Now, if I really needed “help” she would be the first one here. That’s because she finds her own value in helping others. It’s great to have a friend like that, but I love her dearly and would like to connect with her more frequently than once a month. Mind you, I’m not working and I’m very flexible so it’s twice as upsetting when I have the time to spend with her and she basically can’t find the time for me.

My closest cousin, the one who was very busy working to get me out of Mexico and who probably invested the most time in figuring shit out while I was there, comes from a massive tight knit family. Her family will include me in many functions and I love to participate. I’m so happy when I’m with them and I always enjoy myself but I go through some sort of let down once I leave them. I find myself wishing that was my primary family. Once again I feel like I’m on the outskirts looking in.

My kids have really been much better than last year and I am VERY thankful for this change. I try not to push them too far forward too fast because, again, I don’t want to appear ungrateful for the strides they have made. Logically I know kids are kids and boys are boys, but I often feel that I hold no importance. I know this isn’t true and this is just my neediness. I want more demonstrative love and this is just not their way. They really have been good kids lately and I am trying not to put them down in any way because of my own neediness.

I still don’t have a job and there has been NOTHING to be found. I am so over my head in debt for the first time in my life that I am beginning to feel panic rising at the back of my throat. I keep telling myself I just need to get through the end of this year and things will change. I will find a job and be able to pay down my debt. It’s the first time EVER that I am truly scared about the debt I’ve created. People keep asking “what will you do?” And this is becoming frustrating. I don’t know. I don’t know what I will do. Am I wasting time not “doing something else?” I don’t even know what that can be. If I have to become a realtor I would rather die. I am good at my job and want to stay in my industry and would even consider relocation. There are just no jobs out there. Not even consulting ones. I am officially out of money by Feb 1st and have to take from long term savings to survive. This is creating an angst in me that I’ve never experienced. All of this makes me feel like I’m not worthy of being hired. I’m too old. I’m too expensive. (Even though I would take half my last salary). I’m over-qualified. I’m so disappointed in myself that it’s becoming very hard to remain positive.

Then there’s the dating, or better yet, the lack of it. Before I shut down the apps I knew I had hit a low point with my last sex date with Chris. I knew I had to stop what I was as doing because it wasn’t how I wanted to feel. There were two men, both from out of town, that I felt would make good on/off dates when they were here because I could keep them (or keep myself is a better way to say that) at arms length and not invest in the emotional chase. Sex with Dan is pretty good and we have a blast when I see him, but his communication is so horribly inconsistent I still end up aggravated. The other guy, Tom (don’t even think I wrote about him) started off well, we had two fabulous dates, and then his communication and attention plummeted. This is so fucking frustrating to me and puts me right back into the thought pattern of “why can’t I be anyone’s fucking priority?” Not even a small priority. I don’t even think priority is the space I’m looking for as much as just being someone they think about and WANT to reach out to sometimes.

I’ve gained some weight – which isn’t a bad thing but it’s fucking with my head. I had dropped so low, most would say too low for me, that I needed to regain some weight. But I haven’t stopped gaining because I haven’t curbed my eating. Even with all my cardio I’m not losing because I’m eating all the time. I don’t eat much at once but I eat all day. As you can imagine, this screws with my head after weight loss surgery. There was the sick part of me that liked being so thin. That liked seeing that low number on the scale. My goal was always 150 but I loved seeing 130. Sitting around 140-145 isn’t unhealthy but I don’t like it. I want to stay sub 140. That space felt good in my head for the first time in my life. I’m so sick of struggling with the numbers on the scale that I just want them to stay put. Weight loss surgery doesn’t cut out the demons. They are all still there and the effort it takes to quiet them is immense. The only time they recede is under that 140 mark. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’m actually in the best physical shape of my life, my arms look beautiful, my legs feel amazing and I love being stronger than ever and rarely out of breath anymore. The numbers on the scale fuck with my head worse than ever. Especially since I saw what I needed to see for the first time in 20+ years. That number on scale “helps” me forgive myself for the damage done to my body and how badly my stomach looks with its wounds and loose, hanging flesh.

Speaking of wounds, here was a little bright spot. When having sex with Dan, he gently kissed my wound. I knew it was intentional. He also made sure to tell me post sex that he loved my body and the wounds don’t bother him at all, he doesn’t even see them. I appreciated that immensely. I believe him also. It doesn’t change how I think about my tummy, but it does help to calm me down a bit, as long as I can get my weight back down.

So that gets to me to my current frame of mind: not good. Not good at all.

Not working, not dating, not having enough good, consistent sex, not having any money are all very bad places for me to be. My ability to not be depressed is quickly eroding.

I am doing what I can. I actively look for jobs and network. I continue to exercise – although I should be stepping up my game considering I’m unemployed. I bought a studio 10 pack so that I get myself into the Peloton studio and interact in person. I continue to support others in my accountability groups though recently I feel like I am being false. It’s an effort to Log into social media to be positive and emote positivity and gratefulness when I don’t feel it. I do logically understand I have much to be grateful for but I am horrible at making this a practice I believe in. It’s also why I push myself into my accountability groups the same way I pushed myself to get dressed In Workout clothes at the beginning – I will fake it til I make it. This is taking way longer than the 100 days I committed to making fitness a priority. Wayyyy longer.

This time of year warms me and depresses me all at once. I want a boyfriend. I want my person. I want the person who is going to make me a priority. I haven’t had that since pre marriage, since a childhood boyfriend. When I think about it I only feel more damaged and broken. There too many things keeping me down, and too many things making me feel like I’m not important to anyone. I know all about self love and it’s not working for me. Sure, I haves plenty of moments where I am doing a decent job taking care of myself and my family, but I don’t feel any reward in it. It’s. A horrible place to be as I think about this being the 5th Christmas and New Years that I will once again be alone.

Another Chapter Finishes

I learned last week that my contract will end in my current role. I wasn’t surprised, but I was hopeful.

I suspect they did try to bring me in, but I’m overqualified and they are laying off, not hiring. I believe I made a decent impression and showed them what I can bring to the table what they do not have within the team.

In any case, my last day is next week

That also means the money dries up. I don’t want to panic, but I’m pretty anxiety ridden about not having an income. I can manage for a month or two, but beyond that I have to start to withdraw from my long term savings which makes me feel sick to my stomach.

I’m sick of running as fast I can in life and I feel like there’s no rest. It always feels like an uphill battle. I didn’t think I would burn out the way I did last year but it’s had such a profound affect on me that I can no longer think and behave the same. I don’t want to work like that anymore, I want to live and breathe. But. Money.

Same as anyone else.

I’ve been looking for a job for a solid 6 months and there has been absolutely nothing out there. Even lower levels or different industries. I can’t even get an interview. My friends who lost their jobs in ’16 along with me are in the same boat, but they are all married and have 2 incomes. I know they feel pressure but it’s a different kind.

My x has stepped up a bit more than usual. I think I’ve learned a lesson on how to interact with him so that it doesn’t cause me massive anxiety. He will push me to a breaking point and I just can’t waiver with my initial decisions. I notice when I stay the course, and really refuse to budge that he backs down and makes his own decisions, which have actually included contributing to some finances for the kids.

I’m very worried and stressed. Add a relatively newish relationship with my adult sister and my nerves are not doing well. I find myself wanting to retreat from everyone again and hide. I’m beginning to think I’m really just not a social creature. I don’t think this is a new feeling for me, I just don’t think I’ve identified it before and tuned into it. I’ve always said I don’t really like people, but more and more lately, I don’t really like anyone. My frustration with people rises quickly and maybe it’s because of my anxiety, but maybe it’s because I just don’t like social interaction. I don’t really know but I think it’s something I need to pay better attention to.

Speaking of which, I have my sisters bachelorette party Which I worked really hard to plan and now feel like I’ve been penalized for over-planning. I wanted to surprise her and make is super special and it seems she would have been happier being stupid drunk for 2 days with no planning.

Lately, I feel like I can’t catch a break.

Back in the Saddle Again

Today is back to work day!

I put the exclamation point there to convince myself this is a good thing. It is, right?!🙄

I secured a freelance role to cover a maternity leave. The isn’t what I’m accustomed to, but it’s fair. The role can be anywhere from 3-6 months and it’s a company on my top 10 list. I’m not sure how much I will like the role itself, but I’m pretty certain it’s well within my wheelhouse.

I felt excitement when I interviewed and pleased that the man who hired me did so because he knew me and my work ethic from many moons ago.

The office is much closer than my previous office, shaving off at least 25 minutes each way each day. That’s a huge time savings I can dump back into my work out efforts.

I don’t know why I’m not excited. My friends and family are more excited than I am. Lots of support from the home team. I feel sort of nothing. I don’t think my brain is turned on yet.

I am going to approach this the same way I approached my fitness, one step and one day at a time. I cannot allow myself to get to invested or emotional, I need to focus and do a good job. I don’t need to be the best, I just need to be good at what I do. I will not kill myself and push myself to a breaking point again. I cannot afford to lose the new found sense of self I’ve gained.

So, hi-ho hi-ho it’s off to work I go.

Wish me luck!

Awakening

Career.

This has been the hardest piece of the puzzle to begin to piece back together.

Funny, because I thought it would be easier than mending my broken heart and mind because it’s where all my strength and confidence stem from. But that isn’t the case.

I didn’t even begin to pull myself together with any seriousness until January into February. I worked closely with the outplacement group and I committed to a once-a-week call with my coach. There was always homework, and while sometimes I didn’t do it until right before the next phone call, I always did it. I surprised myself by finding the coaching supremely helpful in getting my thoughts organized for the job search. There were definitely high points.

I started looking but never fully invested myself. If I was truly networking, it should have been a lot harder than it was. I was taking the easy way out.

There may be a reason for that.

In 2016 when I lost my previous role, I had a dream that everything was going to be ok. I would find a fabulous job and I would hire my own team. The role would just come to me. And…it sure did. Just like I dreamed. I thought I literally found my dream job.

Fast forward to 2018 and the dream job had turned into my worst nightmare. I truly cringe when I think about the year of 2018 in that role. I so desperately wanted to prove myself, prove to my boss he was stupid for letting me go, prove to myself I wasn’t the dumb kid and was worthy of my title. I didn’t realize how badly his snide comments had damaged my normally confident work-self. That hadn’t happened to me before. Work had been my safe zone where I knew I performed. I knew I was good and I knew I could learn and adapt to any challenge thrown my way.

By the time I left that role I was emotionally crippled with the trifecta that year: breakup, job loss, and kid issues. It couldn’t have gotten any worse? Or could it? I took myself to Mexico with a death wish…so, yes, I made it worse.

In any case, I digress, I was explaining why I don’t think I properly invest in my networking. My 2016 job came to me out of the blue, as the two roles I held before that. I never worked “that” hard at networking. Things seemingly fell into my lap.

But this time I didn’t have a dream that told me things would be ok. This time there was no vision or confidence that I would secure my next best role. This time I was scared.

So the only thing I chose to do was to work on myself. The job search became mostly neglected. I set myself up financially to make it though the summer and had started to accept I would be out of work that long. I didn’t drop the search entirely, if there was a low-hanging fruit I picked it. I didn’t chase anything.

And, it happened organically, again. The same way it did before. Someone who knew me and respected me told someone else I was looking for a role and would be perfect for their open role. I had a couple interviews. I secured a full time freelance role. It’s only a 6 month role for half my salary but anything is better than unemployment. The company is on my top 5 list to work for. The department lead knows me for many years and likes me. It was a great opportunity. There are also some full time career roles I’m in the midst of – very similar to my last. Part of that frightens me because it’s hard to imagine jumping back into a frying pan full of hot oil, but the other part knows I am made for those roles and they come few and far between. I’m trying to remain on the positive side and see how they pan out.

So, back to work Monday I go. Am I ready? Probably not. I’m still way too tired all the damn time. My brain isn’t firing at full speed just yet. But I’m going to need to make it work as I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

9 months was a long recovery period. I never thought I would have this time in my life but I am glad I had as much as I did. Time to refill the coffers and get back to reality. The challenge is keeping the peace and balance I have found inside myself when the world is spinning out of control around me.

Who Is That Person?

Slowly, very slowly, I have been easing myself back into the real world and acknowledging I don’t have much longer to subsist on liquid assets and have to earn an income. Oh joy.

My time is running out quickly. March 1st was the internal deadline I set for myself to have a job and start being fit. That gave me a full 6 months of healing. I have done absolutely nothing in the way of fitness and believe me I have all the time in the world as well as an expensive Peloton Bike. I have, however, started the gears going on my job search.

Luckily, I have a good outplacement service paid for by previous employer. I had a slow start as I was confused about how to search for a role that pretty much doesn’t exist anymore. It wasn’t until my resume rewrite was complete that I realized I had to change the way I was thinking about transferable skills as well as what I may want to achieve in my next role.

My resume writer is very strong, definitely better than the one I had in 2014. We speak on the phone and she gives me suggestions about how to finesse my thoughts on my brand (me). I realized through research what was bothering me about my old resume. The resume appeared to say “I did this” and then “I did more of this” and finally “I did a lot more of this” without really highlighting my soft skills that have been quantifiable from my previous role. I was solely focused on my technical skills as I had been in the past, and many of those are actually not transferable skills. But, soft skills are hard to quantify – everyone can state “influential and dynamic” in writing, but I had actually influenced change and created a dynamic process and team – I had quantifiable achievements that can be considered highly valuable in another area.

So we talked through what was on my mind, I made some bullet points for her to use as specifics and a jumping off point to refine and wordsmith to create my brand and we had a blueprint to a new resume focus.

The resume that came back was fascinating! It took me more than a few minutes to digest that it was, perhaps, me. It felt uncomfortable at first. I sent it to a few close peers and received back “sounds just like you, Mads!” Even when I questioned them “isn’t that too over the top? Do I really do these things? do you receive me as a Visionary Leader?” their answers were always “yes, that’s you now.”

Ummmmmm, ok. Humbled.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t had many moments of true happiness and confidence in 9 months. I got the iceberg in January of 18, but I really didn’t begin to sink until April of 18. Once I took on water, I went down fast from April – September. By September I had given up all hope and just wished for a painless exit. We all know I wasn’t granted my wish, God has a higher purpose for me. I didn’t experience any lasting moments of Joy from April through November, it seemed as if one more difficult, trying or miserable thing just kept happening and I was helpless to affect the outcome.

Regardless if Rob is never apart of my life, the Thanksgiving Football Party with my family, friends and Rob brought me a great deal of happiness for the first time in what had felt like forever. The feeling continued for some time and was the first glimpse that I could move forward. I had another lovely burst of joy around a holiday party with my family, sans a man, but it didn’t have the same lingering effect as the first. My life isn’t entirely devoid of happy moments, they just seem to fade very quickly at this time.

The resume was the second instance of lingering confidence and joy, and this didn’t happen until January. You will all be pleased to note this had nothing to do with a man! Reading the new view of myself elevated my confidence level to the moon and back. But then the doubts crept in – was that really me? Could I do it? Did I want to do it? Do I want to work that had to achieve? Was I presenting an imaginary version of myself?

I knew I could do it if I put my mind to it, but my mind isn’t necessarily in working order these days.

I also know I need to be consistent with positive thoughts and put my statements out into the universe, repeat them and bring the positive energy and light back unto me. I do believe in this, but putting daily mindfulness into practice has always been difficult for me.

I chose to take a webinar about bulletproof confidence. I need to invest in myself and do more mindfulness, but the hours of doing nothing still seem to slip by. The therapist says I will get there, but I’m beginning to get worried that I’m buried in cement as I can’t seem to maintain the effort.

What am I so afraid of?

The glimpses come and they are wonderful and enlightening, but I cannot sustain them. Maybe I am just too afraid of flying high and failing all over again: making promises I can’t actually keep because I’m a fraud?

A failed relationship, a failed career and parenting fails out the whazoo. I’m tired of picking myself up off the ground only to find myself here again, but my total lack of desire to even try this time is frightening, even to me.