NOTE: The following has been written and deleted at least a hundred times in various forms and continues to build. It is real talk about where I am today that I feel needs to be shared. One for some people close to me to understand. Two for some people to not feel alone potentially.
Recently I was talking to new friends and telling stories of my past. Those stories led me to think of more as I laid in bed attempting to sleep that night and they overtook my thinking. Lately my thinking has a lot to do with working and careers and decisions in my past that have led me to being a 36 year old unable to find work. Someone who can put out 30+ resumes and contact multiple staffing agencies and still have only one (failed) interview in a month.
When I was 19 I was a horrible employee. Actually for the first few years of working I didn’t want responsibility and didn’t think of any job as a career. But when I was 19 I was horrible. Twice in a year I called in sick for a day of work and didn’t respond for weeks after. Both were manual labor positions and both were not fun
(no excuse). The first was in Fairbanks at a library on campus and I went six weeks before running into a former coworker and him telling me they needed help. So I went back for a couple weeks until the semester was over and the project I was hired for finished. The second was worse. I worked for a temp agency in Atlanta and was placed at a machine shop. The owner was a complete racist, as were the employees and in response to my lack of effort (most likely) I never was really trained. I had a lot of little injuries, damaged multiple machines and often just ended up doing custodial work for minimum wage. So one day I called out.
I watched TV a lot. I made a massive batch of pancakes and ate those alone for a few days. I moved the exercise bike into the living room so I could ride it while I watched TV. I pulled out the sleeper sofa mattress so I could lay down while watching TV. I went days without showering. Using the same cup and plate for days. I didn’t open the drapes or go outside and could only fall asleep if there was background noise so lost track of day and night.
I often say I was a bad employee for this. But the other night as I remembered this I realized I wasn’t just a bad employee.
I was horribly depressed.
Last year, I quit three jobs…well four if you include putting Junior back into daycare to find a job. I quit them for various reasons but none the less I made the choice to leave all of them. The last made the biggest impact on me though because it was toxic. I was constantly being told I wasn’t good enough and wasn’t following the rules, but then being told in code to cut corners to make my time. EVERYONE there was depressed and beaten down. It was not an okay place for a guy that can easily slide into that mindset.
I look back on the last year or so and have a million what ifs. What if I didn’t get an implanted tooth but just another root canal? What if I didn’t lose two months’ salary gambling? What if I didn’t have to work delivering papers for a dollar an hour take home? What if our car wasn’t stolen allowing us to pay off the debt of one credit card? What if I didn’t quit a job with amazing benefits and pay but mundane work and problematic coworkers? What if I didn’t quit a high pay hard working toxic job for another 3 months? What if I didn’t get strep throat? What if we went to a doctor instead of the ER? What if my counselor didn’t leave our session notes in public for an acquaintance to find and crush my trust in the one person I was willing to share all stories and feelings with?
What if I wasn’t depressed? Again? For another winter? For another year?
The answer to all is of course, WHO KNOWS?
Because the what ifs could go further back to meeting the beautiful Hannah, to moving and staying in Portland, to quitting college multiple times, to being rejected by most kids in high school, to moving to the south…and possibly even further back to the babysitter throwing and breaking my Snoopy hair brush in the bathtub (my first memory?).
All of these things have made me who I am. And apparently today who I am is a slightly depressed 36 year old who failed to find another real job so is pulling his son from daycare again to stay at home dad with him. Who is married to an amazing woman who has no concept of my career struggles because she loves her work and loves being able to provide for her family. Who has time to work on his homestead and maybe get some odd jobs to pay for the luxuries he desires.
And that should be nothing to be depressed about, right?