A Story I Can’t Tell. And One I Can.

I have a great story to tell.  It’s full of the stuff that makes for a great story: good guys and bad guys, love and hate, good and evil. And a happy ending. I want to tell this story… I ache to tell it. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you this story because I am not allowed to.

But here’s the coolest part of that story: it’s not the real story. And the real story is one I can tell.

Last fall, my husband was unexpectedly forced out of a job he’s had for nine years in a company he helped start (read: fired). Left no other choice, Rick packed his office, hired a lawyer and began looking for another job. Why did this happen, you ask? That is the part of the story I can’t tell (read: pending litigation). But if this story were being told as a TV game show, it would be right about now that you’d hear me say, ‘I’ll take Corrupt, Malicious, Lying Swine Who Have No Moral Compass for a thousand, Alex.’ Yes… I do believe that is exactly what I would say.

At the end of his first official day of unemployment ever in his adult life, Rick enthusiastically shared how he spent the day getting in touch with former colleagues to seek out job possibilities. We talked about how the slow economy and high unemployment rate would not be conducive to finding a job. We reviewed the status of our bank accounts and pending bills. I laid out my current work projects and upcoming prospects, then estimated my income over the coming months. We agreed that while things would be tight, we’d be fine on my salary and (hopefully) his unemployment benefits for however long it would take.

And after all that, Rick looked at me with far more optimism than he should have been capable of even faking and announced, ‘don’t worry, I’ll have another job in a few months.’ It would have served no benefit to argue: in moments like this, optimism is far more imperative than realism.  There would be plenty of time later for that.  In the meantime, Rick needed to get through process of mourning his former job and lifting himself out from under the powerful, understandable sense of betrayal weighing heavily upon him.

Last October, that was the story – as much of it as I could tell, at least.  Today, it’s only the beginning of the real story.

It’s since been about seven months. Status: about two dozen job applications, countless numbers of resumes sent out into the universe, a few interviews, no job, two unemployment benefits appeals, three court appearances, about 15 pounds of legal paperwork, writer’s cramp from preparing the necessary documents and tens of thousands of minutes on the phone to State personnel and both our attorneys.  Oh, and a surprise visit from the IRS, just because things were apparently not fun enough.

Stay with me… the good stuff is coming.

During this period of time, I really tried to focus on the gratitude and not the crap that seemed to be engulfing us. How we’re not hungry, the bills can be paid, our silly, happy bassets and so much more for which we needed to feel truly blessed. But I admit that I have had very strong (read: loud) bouts of panic, discouragement and anger. I’ve frequently grumbled about how hard it is for me to write with someone else in the house. I have incessantly whined about leaving my beloved New Hampshire if it came to relocating. And in my worst moments, I’ve been mean-spirited and hurtful.

But not Rick.

He’s been swimming though all the shit that everyone’s been hurling at him (including me) and has thus far come through it with nary a stain, his optimism barely scathed. Surely he has felt moments of despair and upset… but never for long. A man ruled by consistency (are there men who aren’t?), he quickly settled into a routine of mornings spent job hunting and afternoons spent running errands and tackling the to-do list. Knowing I’m busy with work, he’s taken over many of the household tasks: in the past seven months, I have barely swept a floor, entered a grocery store or washed a dish. And before he so much as turns on a water tap, he quietly listens for when I am not typing or on the phone.

He has been patient, supportive, kind and confident. And I have been a self-centered schmuck.

He is such a better person than I am, or ever thought he was.

I am deeply ashamed, and deeply proud.

Even better, I have lately realized that Rick’s not having found a job in those first two months was not a problem: it was a gift. He needed this time to deal with what had happened so that he could move beyond it… otherwise, he’d still be carrying it around with him.  It would have grown to bitterness, then anger and hate. This gift of time has allowed him to process it, put it down and walk away.

We’re still dealing with the yuckiness of what’s happened on a near-daily basis – and will be, I suspect, for several more months. But it’s not ruling our moods or controlling our lives. Allowing that would be our crime, not theirs.

I’m one of those people who try to find the lessons in these situations.  And I’ve discovered many:

  • Evil people are different from ordinary assholes: they take pleasure in your pain.
  • Living without health insurance makes you drive more carefully.
  • In a sea of blatant falsehoods and empty accusations, truth floats. Grab onto it and don’t let go.
  • In this kind of situation, no one ever really wins. No one.
  • Quite often, a failure by outward appearances eventually reveals itself as a personal triumph.
  • Filling yourself with gratitude and love leaves little room in which to invite negativity and hate.

Mostly, I have learned that I have the best husband (and friend) in all the world.

So that’s the story I can tell. A far better story than the one I can’t.

Which, someday, I will. When I can.






    1. ElizabethL um… yes. I just checked and he seems to have all the human parts. Don’t worry: he ain’t perfect!! xo

      Dan – loved the white hat metaphor!

      Cari – I’m thinking Rick’s had enough horseshit for a while, but I will pass along your offer!

  1. BRAVA! Loved this story. Want to hear the ‘other’ one when you are able to tell it. Had the feeling ‘something’ was going on up there and now I know. Love ya’s!!

  2. Don’t worry honey – those in the white hats ALWAYS win. But I see what you say about no one really winning. I’m realy sorry your going through this. Talk soon!

  3. WHEN DID ALL OF THIS HAPPEN? You’ve been so quiet – I never knew!!! Have Rick call if he decides that a career in lawncare may suit him… sounds like he’s already got lots of experience working with fertilizer, of yu know what I mean!

  4. I always love your stories. And this one WILL have a happy ending. WAIT – it already does.

    The Jeapordy remark is perfect!!

    Don’t stay away so long.

  5. Holy nightmare – that sucks! Kudos to you both that it’s not weighing you down, you sounded great last month. If there’s anything I can do please let me know. And things are looking better financially, so something’s bound to come up soon for Rick.

  6. Similar to Carolyn’s offer – If we’re ever again hiring, I’ll make Rick my top choice. Around here, you need a huge tolerance for dealing with shit on a daily basis, which apparently he has! Sorry it’s been so ruff ruff (haha!) – I remember you saying last fall that Rick had been fired, but I didn’t realize it was ongoing. I did notice, though, that I see his face more than yours and apparently that’s because of his new afternoon routine. It sounds as though you have a great man there!

  7. I know this has been difficult but you two have truly found the silver lining. I too always look for the lesson when my world seems to be crumbling around me. I believe you have really found them in this case. Well both of you!

    I know how hard it is to write when not alone… still not used to it. Hang in my friend!

  8. I know you know. Bless you for that! And thanks for your kindness, and your friendship. One of the many things I have felt gratitude for during these past months. xoxos

  9. So very sorry to hear this, Susie. This recession has turned so many lives upside down. Your husband sounds like he could teach us all how to face the lousy stuff life throws at us with grace and humor.

  10. Thanks so much, Doreen. The economy does appear to be slowly turning and the phone has been ringing quite a bit lately, so we’re hopeful. Meanwhile, we’re taking advantage of his being around to tackle some house projects. Keeps him off the street! xo

  11. Wow… yet another thing we have in common – our superhero husbands! I feel sorry for those who have not had the good fortune in partners that you and I have experienced.

    I know Rick will find the perfect job someday soon, when the time is perfect. In the meantime, enjoy the “gift” of Rick’s presence!

  12. Thanks bunches, Ellen! I feel exactly the same way about our fine choices in spouses! And while Rick’s not working, we are indeed doing our best to enjoy and make use of this downtime.

    (OH – and I moved your comment for ya!) xoxos

Comments are closed.