Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

This is my second Christmas as a divorcĂ© and while the number of gifts under the tree is small, the meaning of the day is more powerful than ever. Because this holiday is not all about giving material gifts, it is much more. It is a time when we focus on others.Whether through the giving of a gift, the sending of a card, or even a phone call from across the country we take the time to reach out to others to connect to let them know that they are loved. But more importantly than that, Christmas is a powerful reminder that we are loved by God.

I am loved by God!
And so are you...

Merry Christmas

Monday, November 28, 2011

Truth Found The Light Of Day

Wham!

The words hit me. There was a kind of tunnel vision effect. Time slowed down. I was enveloped in a kind of quiet buzzing and my vision blurred... Soon I realized that I was furiously angry: How could you say that to me now? I'm unemployed and going through the worst time in my life and you choose this moment to tell me that?

The words came like daggers to my heart.

A mere five minutes before I had been asked to sit on the couch for a minute cause "we needed to talk". Not exactly a common event between my wife and I but this being exceptional times, not all that alarming to me at the time. Then everything went sideways. What do you mean by "Done"? Did I misunderstand you? What do you mean exactly? My wife of 22 years just told me that our marriage is over. Been over for a while in fact.

Something not entirely new, yet it was...

This was not actually the first time the subject had been brought up between us. On two or three other occasions my wife had expressed her unhappiness with our relationship. There was the time she went out for drinks and conversation with a friend from work without telling me. They did nothing more than hold hands, but I felt betrayed, inadequate, and ashamed the same as if it had been a more carnal affair. On another occasion she spent the weekend in a hotel to reflect and write. She came back seemingly having arrived at the conclusion that she loved me but needed more from me. On still another occasion I was banished from the house for a few days, which I spent at my Brother's place, then in the guest bedroom for a few days until we reconciled.

This time was starkly different - Awfully, agonizingly, irrevocably different.

After each episode, there was talk about what needed to change, and each time there were exhortations that I needed to do "more" - give more help around the house, help more in the decision making, keep up better on the home repairs... etc... all things to "do". None of these things made much of a difference though. Not because of a lack of trying, no there was tremendous effort to be more of a "doer". Not that at all. Instead it was due to not one iota of it being relevant. Not even almost. It was not what I was doing or what I wasn't doing, but the fact that it was me!

Different! 

After all, hadn't she told me when I came to her all broken up about being laid off that she couldn't support me in this? Yes, She had. And just like every other time I couldn't understand why she was turning against me. I chalked it up to her problems. She has a history of depression and self loathing of varying degrees. She was grossly overweight the entire time I knew her. (Not that it mattered to me, I loved her despite her problems.) She was the product of a less than ideal family situation, one where alcoholism and poverty tore her parents apart when she was pretty young. I didn't care. I just knew that I could love her through anything... But not this!

There was no denying it. I knew it in the very core of my being...

Finally my deepest most secret fears were realized. Never allowed to see the light of day before, these suddenly free terrors burst forth, shattering my reality. They were behind a new awareness that overwhelmed me like an ocean wave that knocks one down and pounds you into the sand leaving you dazed, half drowned, and gasping for air. I suddenly knew why we were the way we were, and there was no escaping it....

We were going to separate.

Soon after that evening we sat across the table from one another enjoying our favorite dishes from our favorite Chinese buffet. We were talking, better than we usually do - heck maybe better than we ever did. The conversation was substantial, meaningful and relevant. Far from trivial, deeper, much deeper than small talk. I am keenly aware that this is probably how successful couples talk... but we are not successful. We are just the opposite. We are divorcing. Through tearful, wonderful, bittersweet words the truth is revealed. The truth that I already knew, but never knew. There was the fact that made it all finally make sense. The key to why there was always an undertone of uneasiness circling at the edges of my conscience.  The bombshell that didn't surprise but that nevertheless crushed everything I had been, I was, and I hoped to be.

She did not love me.

Wham! Again the spinning, the gut wrenching feeling. My world fell away and I was engulfed in a buzzing sound like a microphone with it's jack only half plugged in amplified through headphones glued to ones head - there was no escape from the painful reality.

I was on my own.

In a tone and manner that seemed way too nonchalant, no - happy is a better word - in a way that was much to "happy", she was speaking to me from out of the chaos. As far as she could tell she never really had loved me. She loved the idea of being married, of not being alone, of belonging... but did not love me. Probably not ever. She said it again - I don't love you. It was obvious it was not repeated for my benefit, but instead it seemed to be for her own benefit, to be sure she had actually spoken the words. Words that had never been allowed to pass from her lips, but that had burned inside of her for a very long time.

And though I didn't understand it at the time, thus began my second life.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Saga Continues

Loosing ones job is one of life's most stressful events. My experience certainly was no exception. As I reread the last few posts here, I realize that they were written by a different me.  Thinking of this one in particular, I was at a point where I had to force myself to look toward the positive, to minimize the hardships of the present and forget much of the immediate past.  I was maybe, just barely, starting to see a glimpse of the possibilities of a new future and clinging to that feeble thought I managed to write a mostly positive post. The fact is, there was another monumental obstacle looming in my headlights.  By the time I wrote that post, it had already appeared on the horizon yet that fact was completely ignored by the me that was writing back then . . .

Making good use of the resources offered by my former employer, I started to submit a lot of quality applications to numerous organizations around the city.  I applied to any companies with IT openings, from corporate behemoths to mom and pops, mega hospitals and universities to clinics and elementary and middle schools. I even signed on with three or four staffing firms who each had a different focus in their client base. Every one of them received a specially tailored resume.  Finding a job is a full time job, and I made the most of it.

But life sucked. It started to get more and more difficult to get out of bed in the morning. When I did get up, it became a supreme challenge to keep on task, to keep checking for new job postings and submitting resumes. Hell, it was a huge victory to stay awake at all much of the time. To this day, I wonder how folks can be successful while working at home; for me home during "work" hours became a lonely, too quiet, temptation filled, overly comfortable cell. It took herculean effort just to make it through some days because my way of dealing with the stress was to sleep.  Depression is the name of the beast in this circumstance and to escape it I would succumb to the relative peacefulness of sleep.

Somehow I managed to forge ahead. I started to draw upon a source of inner strength that I didn't know I had.  It was not a surge of realization or a blast of renewed confidence or even a sense of impending doom that motivated me. But rather a slow, tentative building of resolve. A gradual growth of acceptance.  A well disguised building of character and wisdom - despite my tendency to wallow in self pity and victim-hood. The more I forged ahead, the more I realized that I was doing just about all someone in my position could do.

After several months I finally started to feel that maybe I was getting a little traction. It wasn't much, but was enough to help my motivation and to stave off despair. A couple staffing companies had interviewed me and felt that I had many skills they could market to employers. Paperwork was filled out and preparations were made for the jobs that would hopefully materialize. Temp jobs yes, but that means additional experience and often an offer of a full time position. But times being what they were, nothing much further happened....

At first I was sure I was hearing things. It sounded like a phone . . . my phone even. . . MY PHONE! It was RINGING!!! Leaping toward the suddenly useful device I managed to trip and nearly fall. By now the caller ID showed the name of one of the companies I had applied to and my breath caught . .  I forced a deep and I hoped calming breath and answered the phone as evenly as possible.  Would I be available for a pre-interview screening?  Yes . . .When? Now? Of course! Out of nowhere I was completely on my game; I was strangely at ease, I oozed confidence from every pore, my answers were all concise without being terse; To the point, while still touting my skills and accomplishments. Something had clicked and it was as if I had been asked to retell my favorite story... That 45 minute call bouyed my spirits all the way through the next too weeks when I got another call. This time it was for a real interview with the hiring manager. The next few days flew by, filled with many applications and additional conversations with the staffing companies.

The day of the interview arrived and I was ready and loaded for bear. I had on a brand new suit, every hair was perfect and my answers were well rehearsed. . . and the interview was a thing of miraculous awesomeness.  Like the phone interview before, I was owning this meeting with my potential boss and relishing the confidence and poise I was exhibiting despite the previous months of despair and self doubt I had endured. I can only assume that there was some divine intervention at play, because even multiple post interview critiques could not bring out anything I might have said or done wrong.  Things had finally turned around for me!

Seriously, things had really taken a turn for the better because now the staffing company believed they had an opening for me too!

Holly crap!

Months of nearly fruitless job hunting had suddenly offered up two promising job prospects, and now I was faced with an unthinkable dilemma: I actually had to choose between two jobs!

I was soon scheduled for another interview, this time with the Project Manager and Architect, and also was called in for final paperwork at the staffing company. But before I made it to either of those appointments I was to be hit with the biggest bombshell yet...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March Is Here

Well . . .   It's March again and all I can say is I have mixed emotions.

I turn 47 this month.

These past couple years, I've not really enjoyed my birthdays, but that isn't to say I've dreaded them either.  Instead they just sort of came and went without much thought one way or the other.  I guess that is to be expected given the circumstances. . .

But this year there is a different mix of feelings to deal with.  On the one hand I am getting ever closer to 50.  If you have never thought about what that means, think of it this way:  If you live to be 100, 50 means your life is half over. But many people don't live to be 100.  In my family, many of my parents siblings have managed to live into their 90s. Mostly those final years have been good years - so that's good...  But many others have struggled with illness and have left this world much earlier.  My own father died before he turned 70 . . .

On the other hand, I have a lot to be thankful for, and very much to be proud of as I reach my 47th birthday. I have a couple great kids who continue to do well and have a pretty good idea of what they want to do with their lives.  I have endured the monumental challenges that have tested my metle these last couple years and have found that I am stronger, more capable and more resiliant than I ever imagined. . .

And so I find that I am not really all that worried that I'm turning 47 in this month.  Yes, it makes me think from time to time about how much (or how little?) of life there might be left for me, but that only serves to remind me to live the best life I can now.  There is no time for worry or regrets. Worry only makes the hours drag by and amplifies the misery of every fretfull second.  Dwelling on regrets is a huge time waster and may dammage the spirit and confine me to less than my potential if I start to define myself by the mistakes of the past.

Better to remember the lessons I learned from my mistakes and, using that hard won wisdom, go with renewed confidence into the day