I turned 58 years of age on May 10th. I have been working since I was 15, although then it was part time at McDonald’s as I had to finish my high school days, and begin and complete 4 years of college. Once I attained my B.S. degree (in Communication Arts & Sciences – Journalism) from St. John’s University, I found my days were filled with seeking jobs, finding jobs, working at jobs, leaving jobs, and seeking more jobs. Work is good. It builds character, it provides income… but sometimes, enough is enough.
Today is Day #72 – the seventy-second day without my having to devote all my time and energy and caring to someone/something not a member of my family… the seventy-second day without having to spend 12 hours of the daily 24 either getting ready to leave my home for work, working somewhere that was not my home, and returning to my home only eat, toil, crash and sleep for 8-9 hours until repeating the cycle again and again.
On St. Patrick’s Day during 2014, my Boss and I were unceremoniously locked out of our office and prevented from doing our jobs by a megalomaniac who is – unfortunately – his eldest brother and landlord, the owner of the building where our business was located. For our purposes here, we shall call that eldest brother Big Dick. Big Dick – besides being a megalomaniac – is a narcissist, a compulsive liar, an alcoholic, and a bully with a filthy mouth who is cheating on his wife with the office manager whom we shall call Linda. Linda is in the process of divorcing her (abusive) husband… for Big Dick… while Big Dick goes through the motions of pretending to divorce his wife (which he has been saying he was doing for over 20 years)! Linda would ask my Boss and me for our opinions and we’d tell her the truth, that it was not good, this leaping from the frying pan into the fire, and that Big Dick had been cruel and abusive to his wife and their 4 children, all 3 of her children are seeing therapists now because of the chaos caused by the selfish adults in their lives, and all 4 of Big Dick’s kids can’t stand Linda’s children (saying they are “just too weird for words”) and they have Linda classified as a “Gold Digger Supreme” who is after their Dad’s money! We can only guess that she didn’t want to hear the truth. She became not only an enabler to her alcoholic boyfriend, but she has begun drinking too much herself, singing the praises of large goblets of wine at extended lunch hours, and fancy martinis while traveling cross-country with Big Dick on the company’s expense account, hoping the paid babysitter would be able to handle things in her absence.
Linda never told the schools that she would be gone, and a babysitter would be in charge during her absence, to keep the kids from their father. Authority figures were calling the office in her absence, refusing to release the children to a stranger and threatening to call CPS, which had been done before. She is going from believing parental abuse was normal – her mother and father used to beat her and drag her by her hair… – to accepting spousal abuse – her husband had broken her shoulder during their engagement, and it got worse after the “I dos” were said… – to having a cruel and ignorant boyfriend whom she sees lose his temper on a daily basis, screaming and cursing at anyone who declines to “do it his way.”
It had become a terribly uncomfortable situation, and my Boss and I believe that Big Dick felt threatened by our friendship, the ongoing arguments they were having, and the truth Linda asked to hear. Each year, the arguments between Big Dick and my Boss got worse, with Big Dick spending hours playing Solitaire on the office computer and refusing to attend Court appearances. We guess he thought that locking the door would solve everything, but he never looked far enough into the future.
For awhile, my Boss and I felt free and content – and under his instruction, I filed for unemployment insurance. My Boss promised to stand up for me if Big Dick tried to fight my claim, and the result is that I am receiving the weekly payments I deserve. Also, it came to pass that no one knew how to handle our files, and the help that had to be hired was nowhere near what he thought it would be. We hear that the doors are always locked and the windows are never open. The cigars he chain-smokes in opposition to the law and the rank toilet smells his body causes every hour are enough to cause clients to flee the office in disgust.
My Boss had been trying to decide how to proceed with life. Unfortunately, things became too much for his wife, and totally unexpectedly, she committed suicide a few weeks later. My Boss was the one who immediately felt something strange in the atmosphere, and he found her, but not fast enough to bring back her spirit although he did try. We don’t know why she did it, although we can suspect by the things he and I discussed over the 8 years he and I worked together. She left behind an adult daughter, two very young children, one of whom has special needs… and her husband, my Boss. He is devastated and overwhelmed, and it breaks my heart to see him so confused, angry and hurt. Big Dick is so much the narcissist that he attempted to make the wake and funeral all about himself. It was shocking to witness – and yes, I was there – and my Boss has made the wise decision to cut him out of his life, permanently, and devote all of his time to his children, who need him especially in the absence of their Mom.
In spite of all this… did I like my recent job? Well, yes, I did… very much. I had performed the specific functions of my position for many years at different firms, and I cared deeply for my Boss as you can tell. (We remain caring friends even now, and will remain so.) I felt called to help injured people fight for financial settlements because I was there, once, in that very position (see photos at link, below – warning, some show graphic injuries).
People would come to us injured, scared, fragile, ignorant… it was for my Boss and me to guide them to a positive resolution. But now, you know what? It’s time for me to guide myself to a positive resolution, to a good place in my life.
I’m amazingly calm about being unemployed. I have lost a great deal of weight (30 pounds, and more to follow!) and I sleep peacefully. My doctor is pleasantly surprised by my new good health. As always, I still use coupons, buy from thrift shops, and prepare frugal meals. I feel joyous to be able to use this abundance of free time to practice my religion, work in my garden, clean my house, go through boxes of “old stuff” and set-up and decorate my studio where - FINALLY! - I have a personal place where I can work on my art – making “objects” to share, give as gifts, and sometimes even sell. Sometimes collages, sometimes cards, sometimes jewelry, sometimes pretty things that cannot be classified as anything other than “art.” Finally, too, I can work on my book (a cozy mystery novel). I just have to get over the negative thinking, that saying I’m writing a book is “pretentious.” After all, books come from writers, and I’m a writer, so wish me luck, because a book is what it is!
It also hurts, though, because without my income we are unable to continue being the philanthropists we have been… and it hurts, too, being unable to help my Boss fight the incredible pain he feels every day in the home where his wife did what she did to herself, and her family. It’s easy for me to say “Everything happens for a reason,” but I keep that to myself when he is around. I just know it is the truth, and my family and I will be around to offer him help and companionship for as long as he needs us. It’s sad that the same event caused us to land in such different places.