What it’s like to hang on by your fingernails

This blog article will probably push me over the 50,000 all-time views mark here all by itself, maybe by the time this day is done.  That’s one milestone.

It was 15 months ago today that I was laid off from a career that I was well-trained for and practiced at for over 16 years, a career that helped us to be able to buy a decent home and raise a family.  That’s another milestone.

I’ve tried my hand at car sales since then.  That didn’t pan out.  I’ve been in training at a new job in customer service for just over the past two weeks.  I’m putting everything I’ve got into it, giving it my best effort, and I’m doing okay at it so far.

Unemployment (Photo credit: born1945)

Right now, it’s a job that gives me about $50 a week less in take-home pay than I got from unemployment insurance each week for over a year.  Let that sink in for a bit.  Trying to get by and pay the bills on unemployment is hard enough.  How do you make it with even less?

Yeah, it’s nice to be counted among those trying to make an honest living, paying your taxes (although I was paying taxes on unemployment too), etc.  But this business of hanging on by your fingernails gets a bit … draining.

As fate or timing would have it, a friend of mine whose husband recently lost a position he cared a lot about sought out some advice from me on how to help the man she loves deal with the loss he’s been feeling.  She wanted advice from another guy, and I offered this …

“It’s not always going to be a matter of words that will help him through, although there may be times for that too. You’ll have to gauge that for yourself. If he starts talking things out, let him talk with words of reassurance and understanding and belief in him and his abilities.

“Otherwise, it’s more a matter of just being there. Hugs, kisses, touches, holding. If he’s (practicing what he loves), watch him with admiration and let him know how good he is with a few words and a look that lets him know you mean what you say. … (B)e his biggest fan. Talk him up to others, and it’ll feed back to him. If he’s working hard … find ways to show that it’s recognized and admired.

“It’s mainly small gestures. A card might be nice, with heartfelt and encouraging words of your own, something for him to keep and refer back to when he feels the need.

“Just be there as his best friend.”

My friend thought that was great advice.  In fact, she suggested I blog about it.  I’m lucky.  I have a lovely wife who does these things quite well herself.  She’s done and is doing things herself to try and help improve our situation, going so far as to try and get a part-time job walking dogs.

If Amy can’t get a job walking dogs with her knowledge, experience and qualifications, the market is extremely tough.  That’s just the way it is.

Meanwhile, she’ll go on with her music teaching business and trying to make a go of it as a horse trainer, and I’ll go on trying to make a go of it doing … whatever.  We’ll keep trying to hang on by our fingernails — hanging on to our home, hanging on to our family, hanging on to whatever is left that makes our lives worthwhile.  We’ll keep trying to survive.  We’ll keep dreaming of and striving for better days.

For now, though, these are tough times.  That’s just the way it is.