Reflections of a Life Wasted

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I’m coming up on my 39th birthday here in…umm…

*Cue awkward silence as I count on my fingers and mumble under my breath, “Let’s see. Multiply by 5, subtract 96, carry the one and…*

5 days.

Now, there’s no big fuss made over a 39th birthday. It isn’t even a milestone event in one’s life. Next year, however, the big 4-0 will hop up and bite me in the backside like a snake that’s been hiding in the tall, overgrown grass of my life. I look toward this event with trepidation.

I guess the approach of what society has deemed to be the “over-the-hill” mark, rendering my last official year of youth as methodically ticking away, has caused me to really start reflecting back on my life. Replaying the mistakes that I’ve made. Weeding through the “what ifs”. Gritting my teeth against the “could-have-done-betters”.

I’m a dweller. I try not to be, and the Christian crowd will tell me that I shouldn’t be, but I’m just so very human. I think that mulling things over again and again and reworking them in my mind is probably in my blood. I can agree, though, that without God in my life now, I would have completely reverted back into my head and might otherwise be found drooling in a corner somewhere rocking and mumbling to myself. Clinging to faith and hope keeps me upright.

I didn’t always, though.

Fresh out of high school, I viewed the world as my playground and had very little determination to seize any kind of future for myself. I entered one scholarship contest to an art school that I was mildly interested in, but when I showed up with portfolio in hand, I took a look around at the other 300 applicants and their work, and was instantly discouraged. I packed up and left that day thinking much less of myself than I had when I woke up that morning. Afraid and unsure of my abilities from that point forward, the portfolio found its way into the back of my closet, thus closing the doors on any further attempts to try to be somebody and make a career stem from my talents. I never looked back again.

Instead I gave in to the calling of my social life, got a little apartment above a house lived in by the woman renting the place, and held killer parties. I figured maybe the parties were getting out of hand when people were vomiting out the windows onto her car below. She was understanding enough, though, and gave me the opportunity to stay as long as I toned it down.  Soon after, the roommate moved out, the boyfriend moved in, and I did behave; as much as a young single girl shacked up with her boyfriend possibly could, and for a while, at least.

I traded one boyfriend in for another when that one enlisted in the military. He was a good guy, but I was wild, free, and simply didn’t want to wait for him.  So out went the old, and in came the new. With the new, I fell instantly head over heels. Or so I thought. Reflecting on it now, I had no concept of what love really was back then.

Then the bad break-up happened and I ran from my hurt. I packed up my apartment, quit my job, stuffed anything that wouldn’t fit in my car into my parents’ basement, and took off to a place 8 hours north of home to escape seeing him. I had met some people there the summer before, and my grandpa had a cabin there that I broke into once I arrived. It was quickly discovered that I was staying there, though, and I was tossed out on my bad decision making backside.

After a month of living in my car because I had no other place to go, and a job that quickly went south because I either didn’t show up for my 12 hour shifts or came in hung over, I threw in the towel, pawned my entire CD collection for gas money, and went home.

I got my old job back. The boyfriend and I got back together. I became pregnant at 21, and we got married to the urgings of family members to “do the right thing.”

Well, the right thing essentially turned out to be the wrong thing.

At the ripe old age of 23 I was a divorcée that was looking for love in all the wrong places to try and ease my pain. I traveled in all the wrong circles and spent nights with forgettable men. Some of them so forgettable, in fact, that I couldn’t even be bothered to learn their names to begin with.

I had become your average barfly because I just couldn’t bear to sit home alone with my thoughts, wallowing in my self-pity, so I had sought out ways to drown them. Cheap alcohol and the attentions of the opposite sex became my crutch.

Until a long island iced tea bought for me by a dark haired stranger, and a one night stand, turned into ‘a regular thing’.

Age 26 then saw me stuck in a loveless relationship with an alcoholic compliments of my bar hopping habit, (and that long island) that thought nothing of disappearing on a drinking binge for an entire weekend, while I sat home wondering where he was with a 4 year old and another baby on the way. Well, what did I expect from a guy that I picked up in a bar?

I also had 2 abortions under my belt by this time. I wasn’t a Christian then, and in my panicked worldly ways and unwillingness to change, I did then what is now the unthinkable to me. Those uncaring and heartless murders have slowly gnawed away at me like a flesh eating disease for all of the years since. Anytime that word is even mentioned around me, it becomes a knife stabbing at my heart all over again.

So, age 27 found me deeply wounded by my own choices, with 2 different children by 2 different fathers, desperately trying to find a way out of the nightmare relationship that I was in. I tried the direct “get out” approach to no avail. He used the fact that I now had his child as an excuse to drag out the misery for both of us.

Once again I sought ways to drown my sorrows, this time settling on church and video games. I found God to the tune of the alcoholic’s snide, ridiculing comments, and I also found a virtual reality world where, for a while every night, I didn’t have to be me. I could forget how low my life had sunk.

It was through those online games that I finally found my current husband and rescuing hero, and how I coincidently was able to finally end the relationship I was in. He didn’t stick around long once I was finally able to profess my love for another. He then decided to deny our son out of his anger toward me. My husband has since stepped into the role as daddy, though, so my son’s biological father denying him hasn’t really affected him much. Yet.

My husband is one of the few things that I’ve done right in my life.

At 28 I married him on a cold January day to the joyous melody of everyone telling us that we were wrong. “It’s too soon. You barely even know each other,” they would say. The courtship started with his first pixelated words to me across my computer screen in September, ( ‘happy birthday’, coincidentally) and spanned over 4 months of nightly phone calls, webcam chats, and 2 visits in person. By the beginning of December, I was shopping for a wedding dress. Maybe we didn’t know each other completely yet, but we had the rest of our lives to get to that point. We knew it was right, and that’s all that mattered.

That marriage brought with it 3 young step-children. I admittedly haven’t always been the nicest person as far as they’ve been concerned. I couldn’t really pinpoint why, though. Likely petty jealousy over the attentions of my husband. I saw him as this treasure that I wanted to keep all to myself, and I didn’t realize for the first half of our marriage that I couldn’t. His youngest is very needy, too, when it comes to her father, so I’ve had to really struggle to work through my sharing issues.

I’ve tried to mend my relationships with them, with some success. They essentially tolerate me now, and the youngest one is even loving toward me, though she’ll argue with me ceaselessly over anything that I ask her to do. I think sometimes that it’s her way of showing animosity toward me brought about by past hurts, but then I realize that it just comes with the territory when you have teenagers.

Regardless, though, my husband was a package deal and it took me awhile to figure that out.

At age 35, I almost lost him. We were so heavy into our online gaming addiction that we had fallen away from church, and each other. In our emotional separation due to distraction, I regrettably strayed. He gave me a choice to leave or stay. I stayed, and it took hard work on both of our parts to make our marriage fully functional again. Counseling. Church. New friends that were good for us. Turning away from our addiction and turning to God.

I’ve made so many mistakes in my lifetime thus far. Lord knows I have. They weigh on me like chains draped across my shoulders at times.

Sometimes I think to myself, “You never went far. You never made a name for yourself. You really have nothing to show for your life but a barrage of bad choices. That’s your legacy.

Then I look at my daughter, who’s about to turn 17, and my son who’s about to turn 12, and it seems like only yesterday, but in another dimension entirely, that I spent 19 and 22 hours respectively in sweating, screeching labor to bring them into this world…

And now my daughter will sit and talk to me and confide in me like I’m her friend…

And my son will hug my waist and hang there like a boy-sized belt…

And my husband will wraps his arms around me and kiss my forehead…

And my step daughter will call me beautiful…

And I’m assured that they all love me in spite of me…

And I feel safe from not only the world, but my own tendencies toward destructive behavior…

And I’m reminded that I’ve made it this far…

And I know I did something right in the midst of my messes…

And everything is okay…

So that brings us to the here and now. Time isn’t stopping, and it certainly isn’t slowing down. I am older and I am wiser, but my life will likely never be mistake free. I’ll keep on making them, but they’ve at least been getting noticeably smaller over the years.

I’ll wish me a happy birthday this year, and my biggest gift will be the knowledge that I’m a survivor.

Of myself.

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The Story So Far…

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Hopefully by now you’ve had the chance to read the previous story:

When A Good Internship Goes Bad

Or, if you’ve found that you just weren’t up to the task of taking in all those crazy details, allow me to summarize:

In a nutshell, I wrote some articles for a bridal beauty magazine…a magazine that proceeded to fall apart shortly after the articles were written. There was a huge blow up between the Editor in Chief/Founder and the Art Director. To make a long story short, the Art Director bought the magazine out from underneath the Editor in Chief because, for whatever reason, she had not fulfilled the registration and licensing requirements that go along with starting up a new business. The Editor in Chief was hot. She accused not only the Art Director of Stealing, but also anyone from the original magazine team that decided to remain with the Art Director and work for her.

Anyway, it was a bad situation. I think that they’re still embroiled in a bitter battle even now, months after the fact. No one is even working under the original magazine anymore, either. After all of the bad blood between the two, neither one of them wanted anything further to do with it. They parted ways and began separate magazine ventures, and so on and so forth.

Both parties involved had asked me to come and work for them. I stepped away from the whole mess and don’t work for either magazine. The drama just wasn’t worth it.

So, needless to say, my articles were never used.

I had told the EIC of the original magazine that she could still use my articles for her newest venture. She never said that she would or wouldn’t, and after a bunch of accusations and whatnot aimed in my direction, she  removed me from her Facebook contacts and did not speak to me again.  Pretty good indicator that my articles would not, in fact, be used.

So, I tried to give them over to my best friend to use. My best friend that now works for…the art director. Or, as far as the EIC is concerned, “the opposition.”

I just didn’t want to see my articles sit and rot. I put a lot of time and effort into writing them. As soon as the EIC saw one of my articles go up on the opposition’s website, however, she contacted me for the first time in months, hurling more accusations at me and rekindling the flames of drama fire that I assumed had died out. I then asked my friend to just take the article down.  Back to square one. My articles were sitting and rotting once again.

Then I got to thinking. They are my articles. I wrote them…and I do have my own blog that I write for almost daily. So why don’t I just share my articles myself? No muss no fuss.

So I set up a little side blog…kind of a tributary off the main river, to do just that. The reason being is that I kind of thought ‘My OCD Diaries’ would be a strange place to find articles written for a bridal magazine and blog. I’d rather keep to the basics here and save this site for my random ramblings and musings.

At any rate, you can now find my articles here:

The Little Articles That Could (But Didn’t)

There aren’t many of them, and I will not be writing more. What you see is what you get, so I hope that you enjoy them!

When A Good Internship Goes Bad

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I’m not here to lay the following information out for you in an effort to make a bad circumstance even worse. No, on the contrary, I’m writing this post with the hopes of generating some unbiased feedback in regards to my role in an uncomfortable situation.

I will do my absolute best to only give facts as I explain the whole ordeal. I’ve already been accused of gossip, slander, lying, backstabbing, and a whole list of unsavory transgressions.  I don’t wish to supply ammunition for further accusations.

As I have explained in several other posts, I recently did a short (6 months) stint as Media Director and contributing writer for a newly launching magazine. It was an internship; therefore I was not paid for my services during my time with the company. I enjoyed the job, however, and would still be a part of this venture today had things not gone so terribly awry. I had even signed a non-compete, non-disclosure contract.

I got the gig via a friend of my husband. He had been friends with her and her family before we had ever even met and married. So, he had known this woman for many years, even watched her mature from her early teens into the budding young entrepreneurial woman that I had agreed to work for.  As you can see, there was clearly history there. She was the one launching this magazine, and took on many roles as Editor in Chief/Owner/Founder. I shall just call her Boss Lady, for that’s what she was; my boss, and a lady.

Immediately after she agreed to grant me this internship, I eagerly dove into the job. My hard work didn’t go unnoticed, either. My insane organizational skills and work ethic lent considerable resourcefulness to the job. I hope that I don’t sound egotistical when I say that I quickly became an integral part of the team. She had told me on several occasions that, once my time of trial was up, I would definitely be hired on as a full time employee.

Boss Lady made mention of the fact that she was looking for a social media intern, so I had recommended my best friend (let’s call her Bestie) for the position. After asking Bestie if she wanted the position, she agreed, and I offered her number to Boss Lady. After a lengthy phone discussion, Boss Lady had decided to give her a chance with the company as well.

I also met several new people during my time there. One in particular, though, the boisterous and humorous art director, whom I shall just call ‘AD’, befriended me right from the start and we quickly fell into an easy and comfortable rapport.  Even more so than with I, was the close relationship that was starting to emerge between AD and Bestie. They liked each other right from the start, and talked often.

All of us on the small start-up team had our roles, some of us even taking on additional tasks until we started generating income and could further expand the employee roster.  Everything was running as smoothly as could be expected, with the occasional kink here and there that needed to be worked out. All was good, and dreams were being made reality. Or so I thought.

Not long after the team returned from a company trip to New York (this trip did not include me), all hell broke loose.  AD was, unbeknownst to the rest of us at the time, unhappy with the way that the company was being run. Apparently some words were exchanged during the trip, but I was not there so what I have heard was said boils down to a matter of heresy.

The fact though, is that AD then did some digging to find that the company name had never been registered or licensed.  I don’t know why. I have heard several reasons, none from the source, though, so again, heresy.

AD, given her newfound information, then decided to buy the company out from underneath Boss Lady. She met with her after to lay it all out on the table, explain what she had done and why, and see if some sort of agreement could be reached. AD said that she had offered Boss Lady a 50/50 partnership, but again I was not there for that fateful meeting, so I could not claim this statement to be gospel truth.

Now let me just stop right there and say that once I had found out that I had been working for a company that technically didn’t legally exist, asking for product samples and sending emails with my name attached on behalf of the company, I wasn’t overly happy. I had put my neck on the line, as did the rest of the team. Had any of the companies that I had contacted and made requests of decided to look into the matter and discover the fact that we were non existant, I could have gotten into a whole mess of hot water.

Still, I didn’t agree with the move that AD had made. I feel that a discussion should have been had prior to this point. Had AD gone to the Boss Lady and said, “Look, I know the company isn’t legal, and we need to do something about this for the sake of those involved,” the entire catastrophe that followed could have possibly been avoided.

Boss Lady was understandably upset. She wanted no part of a partnership.

A blow up of epic proportions ensued, with a lot of mudslinging, threats of lawsuits, lawyers, police, texts, phone calls and just plain ugliness. Again that’s just one side of things. I was forwarded some of the texts, but I don’t have both sides of the story. I can say with utmost certainty, though, that both sides did not just walk away peacefully. I was there for one of the angry, confrontational meetings.

Both women went their separate ways to eventually start up opposing magazine ventures. I was asked to choose a side. I really liked AD, and I had listened to many of her ideas and thought she had good business sense and could make the venture work. There was history and friendship with Boss Lady, though, and things there were much more involved than just a simple job. Our kids are enrolled in her mother’s private school. My husband was friends with the family before my time, and I didn’t want to destroy that bond. No, working for AD wasn’t really an option for me.

Still, however, I struggled with joining Boss Lady’s team. She wasn’t always the best at communication during my time working for her, and the drama of the whole situation was just getting to be way too much. I felt like I was the rope in a crazy game of tug of war, and it was really stressing me out. I liked them both, and the battle wasn’t my own, so I couldn’t understand why Boss Lady thought that it would just be a no-brainer for me to walk away from AD altogether. It had to be all or nothing, though, and I figured that I would be met with anger and opposition from Boss Lady if she knew I hadn’t turned my back entirely on AD, so that made the whole ordeal that much harder on me.

I had a Bahamas cruise coming up in just a few short weeks, so I asked Boss Lady if we could discuss my decision whether or not to stay on after that time. We agreed to meet for coffee upon my return.

I had continued to struggle with a decision, until Bestie informed me (2 days before my cruise, no less) that she had decided to go to work for AD. I knew that this wouldn’t go over well with Boss Lady, but it was a business opportunity for Bestie, and it would be ridiculous for anyone to think that I had control over her actions and could tell her what to or what not to do. She was happy in her decision, and I was happy for her.

I then knew that the decision had been made for me. I would step away from the job entirely, because the conflict of interests that would be created by me working for Boss Lady while Bestie worked for AD just wouldn’t be good at all. If any information got leaked from one to the other, or if one of them came up with a similar idea to the other, all fingers would have pointed immediately in my direction. Thank you, but no thank you.

So as soon as I got back from the cruise and some much needed rest and relaxation, I called Boss Lady to break the news to her. I admitted to her that I had known about Bestie’s decision to work for AD since a couple of days before my cruise, I just didn’t want to deal with it until my return. Understandable, right? Since my idiot self admitted that fact, though, in the interest of full disclosure, I was accused of “withholding information” from Boss Lady. I wasn’t withholding any information. I was simply putting it off until a more feasible time.

Boss Lady wasn’t happy with Bestie, either, as I had predicted. Bestie was accused of “stealing” from Boss Lady, right along with AD. Stealing what, I don’t know. Ideas I suppose, even though Bestie didn’t walk away privy to any more ideas than she had entered with. Or perhaps AD and Bestie were being accused of stealing the company? Kind of hard to steal something that no one actually legally owned to begin with, I suppose. Either way, I was told that Bestie would then be investigated for stealing. The only crime that she’s guilty of committing is agreeing to work for the opposing team, and that’s only a crime committed against Boss Lady.

So I stepped away completely from both parties to the accusations from Boss Lady and family that I really hadn’t, and was in fact, working for AD. Now, the truth to that statement depends on how you look at things.  I, of course, still talk to Bestie. Bestie has admin rights to AD’s blog, and is often in charge of writing daily posts. Bestie will occasionally ask me, “Hey would you mind red-penning my post before I put it up?” I of course always agree. So, if that is, in fact working for AD, then well, I am guilty as charged.

A short while after my phone call to Boss lady letting her know that I would be stepping away from the job and why, she removed me from her friends list on Facebook. Reason being is that I had written another post pertaining to the seeking of vengeance, and she decided that it had just hit too close to home in the illustration that I had used in my post, and that I was gossiping about her.  That was it. Back turned, bridges burned. Apparently, what I had been trying to avoid by stepping away completely from both sides was not, in fact, avoidable at all.

I suppose I’m not entirely innocent in that, though. I had used an example of a story that I had heard from Bestie via AD, as an example to make a point regarding something I had learned about vengeance. Not to actually gossip, though. I never mentioned any names in that post.

I had not heard from Boss lady again after that.

Until today.

Now, during my time with the original magazine, I had written several articles, most of which never had the chance to be used. I did research and had time invested into each one. It’s safe to say that I even worked hard on these articles.

When I walked away from the job, I offered the articles to Boss Lady. Verbally. She never responded as to whether or not she would indeed use them. I figured that the removal of myself from her friends list and the accusations that followed were enough of a giveaway that she would not, in fact, want my articles.

One month went by. Then two, three, four, five. Five months now, and still, no articles of mine were used. I have some great articles that I poured hard work and time into sitting in a folder on my laptop virtually rotting. So, I told Bestie, when she was so swamped with work that she hadn’t had a chance to come up with a daily blog post yet, “Here. Take these articles. I hate to see them go to waste. Just please put your own name on them. I don’t want to be accused of associating with or working for AD.

So she did. One went up on the blog today.

That’s when the message from Boss Lady, who I had not heard from in months happened. The accusations and drama started up again. I asked Bestie to just remove the article, and I spent the rest of this afternoon stressed out.

So after all of this, the real question that I want to pose to anyone who will bother to read this is:

Was I in the wrong for not wanting to see my articles rot and offering them to Bestie to be used? Should I have let the articles rot anyway as to not further burn my bridges with Boss Lady and potentially even ruin my husband’s relationship with the family? I had said that I was not working for AD and wanted to remain true to my word, but these articles were written back when the original magazine existed. I have not written any new ones since the implosion of the company. If we really want to delve into the who’s and the why’s, the articles were written during the time of the original magazine, which AD has legal ownership of now, essentially giving her rights to them anyway.

I’d love some input on the matter. If I am clearly in the wrong, please let me know.