Life has highs and lows. Sometimes they’re pretty extreme. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change. It does.
I have had many challenges in my adult life. I have dealt with things that made me wonder how I could ever get through it. Leaving me really hopeless and feeling helpless in my own life. The thing is: I got through it. It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy and there were days that I didn’t think I could keep doing it, and if it wasn’t for my sweet baby girl, I probably would have walked away from some bad jobs. But she needed me employed, however low the pay.
I’ve heard many people echo the sentiment that you’re not actually trapped at bad jobs or in bad situations; that it’s a choice you’re making to stay there. I disagree. When your options are stay or not have any source of income and not be able to provide for your child, you really don’t have any options. I worked at a company that was amazing in the beginning. We started a new program there, and it was all fresh and exciting and full of growth. I was told from the time of my interview that I’d move up quickly. I learned quickly and surpassed supervisors in knowledge for how to perform the job and handle escalations, so I was often pulled to do supervisor roles. The head of HR called me “the rising star of [company]” in conversation with higher ups. I enjoyed the people I worked with. I’m actually still good friends with several of them! But as quickly as my hopes had been raised, they were dashed. One supervisor, ironically, the one who often called me to do her duties, decided early on that she didn’t like me. Her supervisor was focused on getting a promotion himself, and let her take the reigns quite a bit. She let the department fall apart, but simultaneously harassed me to the breaking point.
I was offered two promotions, one to the position that the aforementioned supervisor held and she was being promoted to be the supervisor for that role, or to a different role entirely, and chose the different role entirely to avoid her being my superior. But that didn’t stop her. I was followed to the bathroom. Told I was not allowed to speak with any agents (my job was literally to listen to calls and coach agents on them), there were mini-pow-wows in a cubicle that adjoined to a good friend’s and she got to hear higher ups laughing about harassing me. HR was even involved, and wound up in on the fun with them all, since if HR chooses to not follow their own policy, they don’t have to and there are no repercussions. It was beyond trying.
I cried. A lot.
I cried on my way to work. I cried in the bathroom during my lunch hour. I cried on the way to pick up my daughter after work. I once was harassed so badly that i couldn’t stop myself from crying at work, made it to the bathroom, but couldn’t stop. I had to call a coworker to pull around to a different entrance and pick me up so that i wouldn’t have to walk back through the main floor where people would see me. She gathered my belongings for me. It was really, really bad. And it lasted two years. lot.
Onto the next one…
I had another job where i worked for two brothers who owned a small business. One was a bit handsy and would come in drunk and be very handsy. The other was full of rage. He often, unprovoked and out of nowhere, would begin screaming at me and throw staplers and other various pieces of office equipment in my general direction. I had been promised paid time off and insurance benefits, but received neither. And when I, weeks in advance, asked for (unpaid) time off and was given permission, I received a text from the angry brother stating that he had no idea I was taking the day off and that it was sneaky. I reminded him that I’d asked him and his brother weeks ago, and was told it was fine. He told me that I didn’t need to come in the next day (ie: wasn’t allowed to), and that he hoped I enjoyed two unpaid days off in one week, as a single mother making $12/hour. Every day was an adventure. I was terrified every day. So much so, that even though I was in my 30’s my mother dropped by more than once just to ensure that I was safe. Have I ever mentioned that my mom is the best? The job was a nightmare. But what were my options? I had been consistently applying for other positions. The job market isn’t great. I was stuck.
In both examples, I was actively trying to find other employment. In both examples I was a single mother with a young child, who couldn’t afford to simply quit and try to figure it out later. I had to stick it out. And it was really, really awful. I was quite sick with my thyroid and autoimmune disease while I was working at the large company, as well. Insult to injury. It felt, at both places, like it would never end. I was miserable and scared and didn’t know how I’d ever get out of the situation.
Life got better
But eventually, I did. While it wasn’t immediate, it happened. Things got better. My life got better. And not to add to the male savior narrative, but I never thought that I’d meet someone worth introducing my daughter to, let alone get married. I had resolved myself to being single at least until my daughter graduated from high school. And as fate would have it, I met someone I didn’t even know was in existence. After being in bad relationship after bad relationship (thankfully, not introducing them to my daughter) where I was disrespected and demeaned and emotionally drug through the mud, I managed to kind of accidentally meet the most compassionate, caring, supportive, loving partner. I never imagined I could have this.
It’s not about perfection
Things aren’t always perfect. Things are often difficult. And unless I manage to win the lottery one of the 2 times a year I play it, we’ll always have some financial tightness, but mylanta, life is so good now. It’s beyond anything I could have ever thought of when I was going through the thick of it at bad jobs, dealing with health challenges, and less than stellar dates. But if you don’t give up on yourself, if you tell yourself that this will pass and that things will get better, they really will. Time may not heal all wounds, but it sure as hell helps.
The good ones
Changes take place out of nowhere sometimes. Good and bad. But oh man, the good ones are the best blindsides in the world.