For about three years now, I have been full of optimism about the future and my abilities. I have practiced gratitude. I have thought positive thinks. I have listened to gurus on Audible.com. I have even made a vision board, maybe more than one, I don’t remember.
Since I am an optimist, apparently, and I don’t have a personal assistant, and administrative type duties are not my forte, I don’t keep track of such things…but I would wager that the last three years of my life have been the absolute worst.
So, I’m glad that 2014 is over, but I’m giving 2015 some serious side-eye. I’m also growing extremely punchy about unsolicited advice. So many people know EXACTLY what I “should do”, it’s really amazing.
In 2012 I left my husband and moved to New York from Asia. The reason I gave up on my marriage can be summarized euphamisticly by saying that my husband didn’t fulfill his “marital duties” for 42 months, didn’t look me in the face at meals or generally act like I was of any import. At first I was busy enough as a preschool teacher and mother of two that I didn’t have time or energy to feel lonely, just exhausted. But I also had a supervisor at work who was very mean and angry and yelled at me often, and at a point I snapped. I was shocked to realize that while riding my bicycle next to a dump truck, I was contemplating throwing myself under the dump truck. I also realized I was letting my husband ignore me, I was letting my boss yell at me, and people would continue to treat me badly as long as I let them. And my two precious sons were learning that the way to treat a wife was to never speak to or look at her.
I began working remotely as a digital strategist for a NYC based company while still living in Asia. The deal was that I would work for 40k/year until I got to NYC, after which it would be 60k/year.
To people who don’t live in NYC, let me explain that even the crappiest living situation you can imagine is going to cost around $1,200 a month, WITH at least one room mate. Anything under $1,000 a month rent in NYC and most of Brooklyn is “an amazing deal” and is probably a room where a full bed occupies 100% of available floor space. This is not an exaggeration. I have a friend who makes 80K a year and sleeps on a twin bed on risers in an apartment shared with two other people.
But, I digress. When I arrived in NYC on January 27th, 2012, I went to the office the following Monday. I intimated to my boss that I probably needed to sign a new contract since the pay rate was increasing significantly from 40K to 60K. She said no, they couldn’t do that.
Keep in mind I had just left ASIA three days before to come to a job where a commitment was not going to be honored. Great! This, I didn’t know, would be the first of many incidents in which the city if New York played the role of “abusive lover” in my life.
But wait, there was more! In mid February I met the owner of the firm I was working for (at 40K and not 60K annually). We were in the elevator together that morning and I excitedly introduced myself to him. “I’m aware of your story,” he said, flatly.
At 3pm I was called into his office. I excitedly entered the room and took a seat. He said, “We are letting you go.”
The next day the secretary called me to tell me I had a DHL delivery from Laos. That? Was me being served divorce papers. I didn’t know it then but my husband had impregnated someone and was eager to legally sever our connection. He didn’t tell me this until she was 7 months along, after I hosted him in NYC for the summer.
I went to the office building to get my divorce papers. It was the mother of all walks of shame. The doormen said I couldn’t go up since I “just got let go”. Tears stung my eyes and in that moment I understood why people Go Postal. I think I called the secretary because I remember asking her to also bring my bowl, my only bowl, that I had been using to eat instant oatmeal at my desk for lunch breaks because I was poor.
She gave me the goods and at some point that week I used a CityPass I had been gifted for blog review to go to the MET, MoMA, New Museum and the Museum of Sex by myself, for free, all in the same day. This was without a doubt the week in my life that was most like an incredibly depressing and unbelievable Wes Anderson movie.
My craigslist roommates later broke my only bowl.
Despite not having a job, a couple months after this I needed to get my own apartment. My children were coming to visit for the summer and I couldn’t have them in my apartment shared with two art students. I found an rented a studio apartment in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, and paid 6 months up front to prevent them from asking too many questions about my income.
I elevator pitched my skills to any and everyone I met. Finally I got a job doing a few hours a week of social media for a real estate mogul (who also screwed me out of about $500 after three months when he decided he would pay me $250 instead of $750 as we agreed…New York is an asshole). I also started doing one of my favorite contract jobs of all time, managing social media for a major New York drugstore chain.
Finally, being community manager for the drug store chain gave me so much hope that life was going to be roses and daffodils! I RULED at that job, Twitter even did a case study that might as well have been entitled “Why is CanCan so awesome?”
For 9 months I did my magic on a contract basis, at an almost livable wage. The company that hired me on contract kept saying, “Big things are happening, there will be more for you!”
And? Finally after 9 months of promises I was hired full time, with health insurance…to make power points to show to clients after blog campaigns ended. Wait, what?
It didn’t make sense to me. I wasn’t good at making power points and it wasn’t fun and exciting like being in charge of a brand’s social media.
After a lot of work people telling me I sucked, for a few months, they decided I would be the Social Asset Manager, managing a team of people doing the job I used to be good at. Yay!
It turned out that my new supervisor and I had opposing philosophies about how to best do social media. I knew what had worked when I was a “rock star” social media manager for the drug store, and wanted to manage my team based on that success. My supervisor had other, in my opinion, outdated ideas about social media and I didn’t want to see “my” clients digital identities suffer because of it. We butted heads a lot. She was my superior. So she put me on probation. Twice.
I also became the scapegoat for a laundry list of ridiculous things. For example it was suggested that I make a “viral campaign” similar to the MasterCard one in which Justin Timberlake surprised fans by visiting their homes.
Now that was a lovely campaign, but as one human given zero dollars budget, it wasn’t likely I could personally generate the same excitement with no celebrity, no tv ads, and no contest. Yet these were the kinds of things I was “instructed” to do all the time.
In February I was asked to sign a document that said only “I understand I could be fired for any reason.”
I refused to sign it, but was laid off on March 27, 2014, after 15 months employment. My unemployment benefits from the U.S. government ended in October.
In the mean time, I broke up with my boyfriend with whom I have been living for 20 months. He moves to California on January 9th.
I can’t imagine that 2015 could be worse than 2014, but from where I sit right now, I can’t see how it will get better, either.
I want to believe, and manifest, and wink at my vision board, and do the tapping solution, and get unblocked, and practice gratitude, and law-of-attraction everything good…but what I really feel is that ultimately I don’t have control over anything in life.
And sometimes life really, really sucks. Period. Without reason or cause.
I can’t imagine that is a reflection on me failing to make a vision board properly, or that it means I don’t deserve a loving home or I wasn’t grateful enough to be allowed to enjoy my children.
Life is scary. And sad. And beautiful. And so, so, sad.
I’m not giving up. But right now I’m like Lieutenant Dan, with no legs, yelling at the storm as it threatens to destroy my one small rickety fishing boat.
I’m ready to have peace. I’m ready to see the path. I’m ready for opportunity.
And I hope I do look at these words a year from now and be able to see that this was totally the middle of that Footprints poem where Jesus is giving me a piggy back ride. That’s all I can do right now. Hope.