It Wasn’t Supposed To Go Like This [Atlanta Tales, Volume Four]

There was a night, in November 1994, when I was at my absolute lowest. I was 21, in a hospital bed and had just had my colon removed a few weeks prior. Now, on this night, doctors told me complications had arisen and the newly configured digestive tract had turned over on itself, causing anything I ate or drank to be trapped in my stomach. Doctors told me that night that the following morning they would have to go back in surgically to correct the issue if things didn’t improve overnight.

As I turned out my bedside light, I resigned myself to another very long ordeal and a new recovery. I said, to no one or nothing in particular, “Okay, if I don’t wake up tomorrow, that’s fine with me. At this point I am tired of fighting, and if everything ends tomorrow, so be it.” I told myself silently, as I listened to Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” on headphones in the dark, ‘If I wake up tomorrow, I’ll fight. I’ll hate it, I’ll complain…but I’ll fight.’

Apart from the week my father died in 2001, no period in my life has ever had me feeling so emotionally beaten and insecure as that night in 1994.

That is, until this past week.

Even with the release of Taylor Swift’s new album, this week was where I hit my emotional wall, or my emotional rock bottom. To quote a lyric from the new record (from a song that has been on repeat a lot this week), “I might be okay, but I’m not fine at all.”

Back on Thursday, October 18, I had two interviews for jobs; one was in person and one was on the phone. And then, the following day, I landed another phone interview. All three positions were for Help Desk Support, and all three interviews went very well. I particularly felt I had ‘knocked the in person interview out of the park’. After those three interviews in two days, I was confident enough to feel that things were finally breaking my way, but cautious enough that I only mentioned the interviews to two friends via text.

Wednesday I had to run an errand that could not be avoided, even though my knees were very sore and I really didn’t feel well. I got back a couple of hours later from running that errand and looked at my phone to see a new email message. It was a ‘Thanks but no thanks….’ automated email from one of the three interviews.

That’s when I hit my emotional wall and I kinda sorta lost it for an hour. I screamed. I threw books at bookshelves, hurled my cordless computer keyboard toward my bedroom wall. (It still works…not as cheaply made as I thought.) I was a complete and total emotional wreck.

After the episode was over, I took a bath to calm down. After getting dressed, I heard my phone’s ’email notification’ bell sound again, so I checked it. It was another ‘Thanks but no thanks…’ email, this time from the in person interview that I thought had gone so well a week earlier.

I was too numb to be mad. I texted a friend to tell her of the recent events and then I decided to go see a movie. As I sat in the theatre waiting for the previews to start, I was completely convinced that I would never be hired again. (If you’re curious, I saw ‘Seven Psychopaths’; good film. Sam Rockwell annoyed me to no end, but the movie is worth seeing for Christopher Walken.)

While I continue to send resumes and apply for jobs, my confidence, which was flying high a week ago this time, is now completely shot.

The ugly truth is, being broke sucks, no matter your zip code. While I am not actually broke, I’m close. I know I can pay rent for November. December? That’s an unknown right now.

In an effort to save money, it’s been a steady diet of peanut butter sandwiches and Cheerios. That’s fine with me right now. It’s not that I don’t have other food, I do. My freezer has lots of chicken, hamburger and two steaks, but this week especially I have not felt motivated to cook much of anything.

I’m just tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of being turned down for jobs I am more than qualified for. Tired of asking and hoping for things that never materialize.

Trust me, all day every day, the phrase “You chose this!!” echoes loudly in my head.

Plan B? I don’t know yet exactly. On Thursday I heard back from the third interview. They like me, but they don’t foresee any openings for 30-60 days. I can’t wait that long, so at some point, I will begin to make some very tough decisions, especially if things don’t improve soon.

The morning after that dark night in November 1994, I woke up and doctors found that things had improved overnight, so a second surgery was avoided. I fought and I recovered.

I’ll keep fighting now, but I admit, it’s much easier to fight at 21 than it is at 39. Whereas my definition of ‘winning the fight’ in 1994 was being able to eat a full meal again, my definition tonight for ‘winning the fight’ is not going crazy.

It’s gonna be a long fight…