In the course of our courting, there were frisbees-a-flying, beers-a-flowing, big bad barbeques, and more than a smattering of smooching and cuddles. Being together was easy and always.
We married in 1997, healthy, happy, and excited about our lives. All that we wanted was to be together and continue the fun and goofiness that attracted us to each other in the first place. Simple enough, seeing that we were getting married and all, right?
Transitions: we all face them. Bigger ones and smaller ones, they’re always there. Whether it’s the end of your time in kindergarten, starting a new job, going away to college or simply realizing that your favorite brand of chocolate is not available anymore, life never stands still.
Divorce has been my latest mountain to conquer and it’s been by far the most difficult one to date. Nothing, not even a 14-year long battle with anorexia, can prepare you for the shock and the pain of admitting that your marriage is dead.
“I would love to do what you’re doing!” “I so wish I could figure out a way to quit my job and travel like you.” “You’re living the life of my dreams!”
I used to get messages like those on a regular basis. Nearly every day I got an email from yet another person who looked at our life as though it was the ultimate – the pinnacle of aspirations. And it WAS a good life! Together with my husband and children, I was riding my bicycle from Alaska to Argentina. All told, we pedaled 17,285 miles through fifteen countries. Our journey took nearly three years.
I thought that it was never going to end. Wake up. Brush my teeth. Drive to work. Sit at my desk for eight hours. Count the hours from the moment I sit down: Eight, seven, six… Drive home. Make dinner. Eat. … Sleep. Wake up. The truth is, at that point in my life, nothing brought me joy any more. I hated waking up. I hated going to work. By the time I got home, I was so drained and frustrated that I got little joy from my family.
Having a small child left me with virtually no time for myself, and so no hope for recovery from the torture of my mind-numbing job. The only escape I found was the make-believe world of video games, into which I’d dive at every opportunity. As days turned to months, and months into years, I was starting to give up hope. I thought that this must be my lot in life: I was destined to sacrifice myself in the service of others. Although I was dying inside, I held on as best I could in the name of duty.
I started out very excited about this job. After living and searching for work in Antalya, Turkey for 6 months, including 2 months as an English teacher to children, the opportunity of working for an American company while in Turkey was all I hoped for. Maybe the pay was only $1800/month, but after the exchange rate, this put me in the top 10% of earners in my city. I made 4x the amount of money my fiancée did working almost half the hours. I should have been happy.
The first three weeks were exciting. Learning about new products, sales procedures, getting to know the other new starts in my class; all things I truly loved. The job itself was a work-from-home customer service position and I didn’t mind the work. The people calling in were by and large friendly, the company benefits were decent, and the hours were not bad either. Even so, every day I had to drag myself to my desk and start the day.
I have been a teacher on and off during my career. I’m currently “on” again, teaching an entrepreneurship course for undergraduates at a local university. Business courses tend to focus on team project work because that’s how businesses are run: a group of people working together to achieve a common goal.
Inevitably, whenever I teach a course that involves teamwork, at least one student hits me up mid-semester with a complaint about a teammate. Usually it is an expectation issue where one student hasn’t contributed as much to the project as other students would like. Generally, the students turn to me to resolve the issue, which wouldn’t be such a huge deal except every time this happens, no one has actually talked to the alleged “underachieving” student and tried to fix the issue themselves.