Day 63 – The Full Picture is Not Painted with Only Happy Colors

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Friday – October 31, 2014

Even this photo, which popped up when I searched "bright colors" has real darkness in it. We can't recognize the bright without the dark.
Even this photo, which popped up when I searched “bright colors” has real darkness in it. We can’t recognize the bright without the dark.

Fair warning: there are highs and lows with this unemployment thing and, sadly, today is another low.

* * *

Erin and I had an early morning meeting with Cami’s teachers to discuss her IEP (Individual Education Plan) goals. Every kid with special needs who goes to school has an IEP that’s refreshed every year. We weren’t due to discuss it until January, but the meeting was called early for the most surprising and pleasant of reasons: Cami hit her goals early. This has never happened before. Usually, Cami doesn’t hit her goals at all and we have to roll them into the next year. The kid grows and develops like she’s running against a much different, slower clock than the rest of us. We’re pretty much floored by this new, overachieving Cami. The mysterious, sets-her-own-pace Cami has trained us too well.

Together, we made new, short term goals with the hope she’ll hit them by the real IEP meeting at the first of next year.

At the end of the meeting, and after two months of picking up and dropping off Cami at school and looking mostly like an unshaven caveman monster while doing it, I finally had to explain to Cami’s teachers that Erin and I are unemployed. We weren’t hiding it (clearly, says my crusty face), but today they asked if we were going back to work now that the meeting was over. This was an odd question, so I’m sure they must have suspected something was up and this was the first real opportunity they had to ask.

It is always, always, always humiliating to admit we’re out of work. I don’t hide it and I will tell anyone who asks, but that openness is something that, at times, I force because I know it’s good for me and I know, intellectually, that there’s no shame attached to it. But there’s a part of me that doesn’t get that and that part shrinks and flushes red.

Cami’s teachers were kind and sympathetic and said they’d keep their ears out for any opportunities. This is the exact right response.

* * *

Halloween tonight. The kids all went out and knocked doors. They got a lot of candy. I’m going to get fat.

* * *

I don’t know if it was because of the way the meeting ended with Cami’s teachers or just because of the reality of our current situation, but I’m feeling utterly hopeless today. The leads have basically dried up and we’re back to square one. Days like this we feel like we’re really, truly in trouble. At least with a lead or interviews being scheduled we can point and say, “See, there’s something that could work out.” But that’s not today.

Today is hard. Today, things look bleak.

I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again: we’re going to be fine. I don’t doubt that, but today is tough and my inability to see past today is bothering me more than usual. As I said in a recent blog, “The present does not always shake hands with the future.”

I share these down periods and the hopelessness we feel at times freely in the interest of the full picture. It drives me crazy when people give no thought to the narrative they’re putting out there. And we all have a narrative. As soon as you put more than one thing about yourself out there as public information, you’re creating a narrative about your life. If you’re not careful, you can create a misperception about yourself that leaves others feeling either worried about you (if your narrative weighs toward the negative) or disbelieving you and feeling bad about themselves (if your narrative strays towards the overly rosy and positive). I strive for my narrative to be positive, but honest (or, accurate).

The full picture cannot be painted with only bright, happy colors. Not in this life anyway.

So, yes, today is tough. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.



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