Not all of it. Just the parts where I got my ass kicked over, and over, again in this game of life. Did I want to give up? You bet. Did I consider it from time to time? Absolutely. Am I glad I didn’t? Hell yeah.
Anyone who’s read my books or followed my writing knows all about the emotional and factual challenges I faced after my husband’s murder.
The grief parts. Most of that, well, sucked. But in between the apocalypses of those years and the subsequent heartbreaks, disappointments, and scares of the other years, I’d always be touched with hope.
Maybe that hope came in the form of a sunset, or a hug from my kids, or a friend getting me to get off my ass and out of the house. Whispers and waves of hope and encouragement flowed through even the darkest moments with a fierce warmth and undeniable promise, which was as important to me in the recent years as in the early ones- including throughout my quest to rejoin the workforce.
From my first babysitting job as a twelve-year-old to various careers throughout life, I’d always worked. Up until the day my doorbell rang, the day they told me my husband was dead, I’d juggled our growing brood and my husband’s ambitious schedule with my own work. I never had trouble finding a job and I took for granted I never would; Oh, sweet ignorance, How I miss thee!
Much like the rest of my naively –planned path, my professional life suffered an almost fatal blow the day I was widowed. A hefty dose of trauma over the next 3 ½ years rendered me incapable of healing, let alone returning to work. Fast forward 6 more years, a master’s degree, two books, and 3.2 teenagers later and I almost gave up again.
I’d spent three years diligently seeking a segue way back into the work force.
To date, I’d succeeded only in acquiring an impressive array of rejection letters; an improvement, at least, from the initial round of no answers. At that point I no longer simply craved a new career, I needed one. Bills were stacked up and swallowing me. My home taxes alone equaled a part time salary. My fiscal affairs were turning ominously dark and there was no government bailout in sight. It was time to panic. It was time to get serious.
I reassembled my resume, adding a new layout and rewriting much of it. Finally I was confident I’d managed to aptly highlight my skills and qualifications in an attractive manner. I was sure now that employers would notice my degree, books, awards, and volunteer work. They’d be instantly smitten and need to have me.
Not since high school have I experienced more rejection than during my job hunt. My master’s – the degree I’d pushed myself to achieve, “didn’t matter.” My books, articles, awards- They “don’t count,” for a writing position or anything else, I was told. In a kill or be killed job market, I learned, I’d be lucky to score a nanny job. Ouch.
I’d worked so hard writing that I tore tendons and ligaments in both arms, requiring surgeries. I’d functioned with no sleep. I wrote research papers during my son’s soccer practice and burned through two keyboards. Had it all been for naught?
And then it changed- I got that job offer! No, wait- I got two offers in the same week! Years of drought and now a flood, relatively speaking. What to do? A choice had to be made. And rather than take the job I knew I could perform but also had no mobility prospects, I chose the risky one.
Fast forward six more months and I was now unemployed. By choice this time. I’d made the wrong decision and it was time to take my medicine. But I’d made so many personal and professional bad decisions that it was difficult to trust I’d ever learn to choose wisely.
Just to make it more interesting, my engagement was crashing and burning in spectacular style and apparently my whopping six months at a job didn’t exactly impress any Human Resource committees. Friends and family assembled in unison, coming to my rescue without even having to think about it, they’d gotten so used to doing so. And they pulled me through one more time, and it finally worked.
Just when I’d again come in a first runner up for a manager position, and the clouds swirled and skies darkened, things changed. One person in a position to do so believed in me. One person decided to hire me. To help me get my life back. With this person’s faith in me joined with all the others who still have not given up on me, my life changed. For better, this time!
This year I began part time work as a Veterans Specialist.
My work will allow me to have a part in assisting the 23,000 veterans in my county as they face their own challenges. I feel it not only gives me that career I so needed, but it honors Lou’s life in a way this government has yet to do. He’d love that I’m doing this.
The twisted roads, tumultuous turns, and sometimes hilarious moments of the past 10 years all seem to have guided me to precisely where I am supposed to be; poised for my future. I can’t help but think Lou had something to do with getting me here. And I know for certain my friends and family did.
Balancing my life is not easy. But I’ve learned all those cliches about not giving up exist for a reason. And I’m grateful every day that I listened.