Disbelief. That was the only emotion I could muster after what had been a tumultuous year in my employment world. While my supervisor, already relocated to NYC with her family, decided if her future was truly invested in the company (or another one), I was told to “sit tight” and to continue working remotely. She would have discussions with her boss and conclude a course of action (or reaction) from those conversations.
After the news was broke to me, she exchanged several conversations with her boss over the course of that winter. Between September and February, my future remained in limbo. At one point, I recall her trying to resign three times, but her boss resisted her efforts. “How hard is it to quit a job?” I speculated. I had just done it (for her as a matter of fact), so I was well aware how simple it really is: You give your two weeks’ notice, and then you’re done. Bam. See ya later. After while. Adios. End of story.
She thought she was doing me a favor by being open and honest about the situation, and I corralled every temptation to erupt in an outburst of unprofessional proportions. I maintained the high road, but anyone who takes the high road knows that it is difficult to stomach. When your face is red with rage and your stomach tied in knots, all you can do is smile, nod, and walk away. You can’t burn bridges on the high road either (but you may be able to get away with not proactively maintaining them).
Then one chilly day in February — probably the worst month on the calendar because winter has gone on way too long at that point — she told me that she was going to stick it out. After all that, she was going to stay with the company. Even more, I was expected to be in NYC by the end of March. When she asked me if I’d still consider moving, I don’t think I even let her finish her question when I chimed in, “No.”
She couldn’t have been serious. Risk it all for your wishy-washy, flip-flopping attitude? Move thousands of miles away, be on my own in a foreign land of towering skyscrapers, only to live in fear that you’ll quit at any given moment? How can I trust you? Who are you?
Apathy. No longer was I in disbelief. No, we were well beyond that. My feelings bordered on “I don’t give a shit” and “that woman, the one in whom I put so much stock and faith, had led me down a dead-end path.” She had lured me away from several opportunities in Wisconsin, albeit options that were safe and didn’t necessarily challenge me to venture outside my comfort zone. But I was OK with overlooking those opportunities at the time, to risk it all because of what she did for my young, starving career. Yet human nature can be a bitch, rearing her ugly face in a life that had become all-too familiar with forlornness.
Deep inside I knew I was fucked. Because of my decision, I’d be let go (let’s call it what it really is: fired), which successfully fueled my apathy. I’d be back where I started nearly a year ago, in April 2011 when my employer closed its doors and left me jobless. I’d be without health insurance. I’d be back on unemployment benefits unless I could find something quickly.
Soon apathy gave way to panic and introspective examination. Was I cursed? My timing always seemed just a little bit off. What the hell was I going to do? After 11 years in my profession, I still hadn’t amounted to anything; meanwhile, people much younger than me, college dropouts and recent graduates, were climbing ladders of success and starting little companies like Facebook. Will I ever catch a break? Is this what my life will be — a series of tough breaks, a bunch of “get ‘em next times”?
But as the story of my life goes, I have learned that self pity gets you nowhere. After so many bombs drop in your life, you soon learn to expect bad news. The bombs don’t even make you flinch anymore. You begin to compare this event with that one, saying, “Hey, it’ll never be as bad as it was that time. Remember that?” You actually buy into the cliché “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (with everything my life has seen, thanks to a picture-imperfect childhood, I fully expected to be the strongest man in the world by now).
So I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and filled up on a hearty course of determination to get life back on track.
Getting life on track would come with many difficult choices, including breaking away from the one I loved. My girlfriend and I were on a crash course of a broken romance, and I needed a fresh start.