I’m flat out busted. I’d be bankrupt if I filed for it. I’m back in the court system determining my new alimony payment, which whatever my former spouse wants at the moment is too much.
I’m worried about the car payment. Worried about health insurance. Worried about my attorney’s fee. Worried about two prescriptions.
McDonald’s has become the new Starbucks. I stop at places that offer free coffee.
“How the hell did I end up here?”
I’ve thought about writing Tim McGraw and George Strait that my life would make a great country song.
But this is no joke. It’s real. It’s happening today.
I added up all the money I’ve earned over the past twenty years and the yearly average came to a touch over $250,000.
So the question remains…
“How the hell did I end up here?”
I wrote a prelude to my situation in a previous post, but it all boils down to failing to listen to my inner voice, my gut feelings.
Instead, every day I went about life like I always had but this time, I had indigestion and heartburn the entire way.
And, during the last three years, what could go wrong, did go wrong.
As James Altucher says, this kind of low point is like holding an imaginary gun to your head. Except for this past January, I contemplated holding up a real one.
I don’t think I would have ever done it. But I found my mind drifting to dying and rationalizing with myself that maybe death was the better out if given the choice. Everyone could take their share of life insurance and move on.
Those thoughts began to occur too often so I called my psychiatrist (who I normally see once or twice a year for attention deficit). I told him that I imagined getting a terminal illness and that I wouldn’t take any treatment for it.
He said that at my age that might be considered suicide. I really hadn’t looked at it that way but he was right.
A friend asked if I was depressed and she brought up meditation. Right then I realized that I hadn’t practiced daily meditation and prayer for quite some time even though the practice had been a critical part of my life since Catholic elementary school (read about it in Finding Courage).
“How the hell did I end up here?”
My answer is that I found it hard to meditate when I was floating in a bubble of negativity. I think it began when I mentally separated from a long term marriage, much before I physically separated. And afterward, that downer of a mindset became more entrenched as I felt trapped from pursuing new avenues in life that my intuition was screaming at me.
After a while, the feeling of having control of my life began slipping away. Eventually, that “leave me alone so I can wallow around in my sorrow” voice took up a lot of subconscious time, and meditating and prayer took up less.
Despite the internal conflict, a good portion of life did come back. The most important part. The part where hope, love, and faith are founded. I did find someone. She’s fantastic. I’m lucky that I have her.
She also has an eleven-year-old son who has become a stepson in all senses of the word. He’s often shown and reminded me over the past several years what life is truly about.
And they have kickstarted the inspiration to begin the fight back.
So I am.
By now you may be wondering about the specifics of how I got here and what the heck I’m rambling about.
It mostly has to do with my life’s work. The career that provided the income. I’ve been a lifer in the medical device industry. The past twenty years spent in startups with the last fourteen in the true startup stage: Beginning with a concept and turning it into something.
In the past, colleagues and venture capitalists gave me high marks for having the guts and the ability to orchestrate from the idea stage.
Today, there’s a dwindling number of new medical device startups. The sophisticated and institutional investor prefer to invest when most, if not all, the risk has been squeezed out.
To do that, a device startup often requires $4-6 million of investment spread over its first years of development.
Result: The number of new medical device startups has been dwindling.
Conclusion: I’m not applauded so much and sought after very little.
The thing is that I knew all this back in 2013. My gut began making noise to get out of the medical device industry and buy a Chick-fil-a franchise, a martini bar, start an online business, or go off in a cabin in Nova Scotia and revise the first draft of a novel I had written.
I investigated all those. Well, maybe not Nova Scotia, but I did consider hunkering here down in North Carolina.
Here’s the thing, especially for those paying alimony:
If I told a judge in 2013 that the medical device market was sliding into the tank and that I didn’t think that I would ever come close to my $250,000 per year average so I was going to change careers and open up a martini bar with an expected net of $40,000 during the first few years of ownership, which meant lowering alimony by 80%, what do you think the court’s response would have been?
I can tell you…I would have heard the slam of the gavel with an order that alimony would remain unchanged.
But what was a judge supposed to think, really? I made a lot of money and then I tell the court that I think that my prospects are sinking so I’m jumping from a yacht to a dingy?
There’s really no one to blame. It’s just the way the world works.
However, there is a lesson: When you think divorce could be the beginning of a new life, it’s not. The baggage often gets heavier and you can’t put it down anywhere and walk away. It’s always there in the attic taking up space.
In the end, I stuck with what I supposedly knew best: Startups at the conceptual stage. I had to keep earning the income.
I transferred technology out of a university that ultimately did not live up to the press release. That was the first time I ever failed at taking a conceptual project and making it a real product.
Did I stop then? No. I quickly started over, spent more money, and raised a little money. We got through the preliminary testing, filed new patents, and the technology potential looked very promising. However, the potential to bring in significant cash hadn’t changed. The company was stuck.
My startup saga lasted three years, slowly draining my capital. And, like many entrepreneurs, it’s hard to say it’s over. And I didn’t until it was too late.
Now that my gut instincts have been proven right, that I should have tried that martini bar, my hand is on life’s reset button and I’m scrambling to survive.
The question: Will I survive?
What I do have is ingenuity. I have determination. I have my health. I have people that let me stay in their life. That’s enough to wake me up and realize that there’s no reason to take an early exit from life.
It’s all the reason to rise again.
But it’s not easy. I can’t compete with younger millennials in the job market. Most employers hiring to fill management positions prefer to fill them with people looking to grow a career. At my age, I’m really not what they’re looking for.
Hourly jobs…why don’t I do an hourly thing for immediate cash while I investigate other opportunities? Sounds great.
Except I’ve applied to well over a hundred. No dice. And, I applied to work at a doggie daycare just for fun and received a polite “no.” You have got to be kidding, right?
I’m on Freelancer and Upwork bidding for jobs after job. Nothing. The amazing thing is that most of the jobs I bid are still open. Do they ever hire?
Also, Freelancer thinks writers on their site make oodles. So they push you to join their Premium level at $30/month. Writing jobs pay 2-cents to 5-cents per word. Do the math and think about the time it takes to write 10,000 words. Give me a break…$30?
So how am I surviving?
The thought of having given up meditative prayer sessions sent me into a panic.
Could that be the underlying reason for all my troubles?
I re-read a Wayne Dyer book. I listened to several of Doreen Virtue’s angel meditations. And, I returned to making meditation and prayer an important part of my day.
So how is that working out?
Well, the thing is this: I went from wallowing in sorrow to swelling with energy. Energy to turn it around.
How? I don’t know. But I wake up every morning around 4:30 ready to keep trying.
I felt quite alone for many, many months. All my thoughts centered on me, all by myself, in my bubble.
But that changed. I got ideas. Acquaintances gave me ideas. Fellow weightlifters at the gym who hardly spoke in the past started up conversations. One gave me an idea for an idea.
I’m energized to do anything I can to bring money into the household. I keep applying for jobs. I get interviews. I don’t get the job. But I learn something from each experience. I apply for more.
When in meditative prayer, I ask for what I want. “I need $500…I need to find my way through this. Show me the way.”
The key is to ask while doing your part each day to make it happen.
But that’s not hard when you start feeling connected to an energy. An energy that exists within yourself. An energy that can only be tapped through meditation and prayer.
Is the energy coming from the universe? Is it coming from God? Is it coming from your dead mother? That’s for you to figure out on your own. I’m just telling you that a connection with a powerful energy source exists.
Yes, for now, the basic problems are still there. I have a life insurance premium due. It’s not much money, but I don’t have it. My car payment is due. What would I do without a car? I’d be house-bound.
My monthly gym membership is due. I have to keep that because it’s the only thing I do for my health and it’s motivating to go there. It helps tremendously with depression. I can’t tell you how many times I entered the gym with a heaviness on my chest and a stabbing headache and walked out feeling like a lottery winner.
The fact is this: Despite the problems, every week, I find a way to get to the following week.
And that’s what getting through all this is.
You keep going. You go forward because you can’t sit in a chair and wait for the phone to ring. Why? Because you won’t hear the phone ring. The sound won’t break through the bubble of wallow.
I pray to angels, God, and yes..my dead mother and father, my dead aunt and uncle. And stuff happens. Suddenly I have choices to make. Coincidences happen. Synchronicity is working. People you don’t know all that well lend you a hand without you asking.
Could good things have happened much sooner if I would have kept praying and meditating? I believe it would have.
Could it have prevented things from getting this bad? I believe it would have.
But hindsight does nothing.
I’m back now. Getting from one day to the next. One week to the next.
Next year, this will make an interesting comeback story.
Stay tuned for updates.
Thanks for reading!
About The Author
I’m a writer, entrepreneur, and survivor. I share my experiences and discuss how to battle the odds and keep coming back. Don’t let fear and anxiety control your decisions in life.
CLICK SUBSCRIBE to receive my weekly article.