Yesterday evening, I received a text message from my dad, as follows:
“This is a good leadership lesson I came across. I thought you’d like it. In 1519 Captain Hernan Cortez landed in Veracruz to begin his conquest. Upon arriving, he gave orders to his men to burn the ships. Here’s the lesson: Retreat is easy when you have the option. We all cling to something that acts as our escape hatch or our exit strategy. We postpone action until we no longer feel fear. Either that, or our actions are shallow attempts never designed to succeed. In reality, we must learn to act decisively in spite of our fear.”
This message from my dad has some significant implications to me on a major decision I am going to be making. But before I go on, let me back up slightly and give you all some background that you might appreciate having a better understanding.
For many of you that followed my last blog, Assentively Yours, you recall the struggle I had with being unemployed. I was an engineer for an oilfield service company and was laid off in March 2015 due to the result of falling oil prices. The downturn in the oil & gas industry began in late summer and early fall of 2014 and is just barely beginning to recover now. I was able to hold onto my job for almost 6 months, before the company I worked for let me go. All said and done, this company reduced it’s staff by almost 1/3 on a global scale. Unfortunately for me, it left me without work for over a year. I was lucky enough to have plenty of money in savings and received a decent severance package. I paid off all of my debts, except student loans and my mortgage – that included 2 vehicles, 4 credit cards, 2 personal loans, and a few medical bills. After eliminating all of that debt, I still had enough money to take care of my family for a year. I also received some unemployment benefits, that I held out on accepting, until 6 months into my layoff. The benefits I received were not much, but since it is based upon your previous income, I received an amount that would have exceeded a full time job at minimum wage.
Since I had the chance to look for higher paying jobs, I spent the majority of a year doing just that. I applied for well over 1,000 jobs for that year. I looked at multiple industries and kept my search focused on jobs that I felt I was qualified to do. Overwhelmingly, I was rejected and there were a few common reasons I heard: “You’re overqualified”. “You have more experience than we are looking for”. “We can’t pay you what you’re worth”. And my personal favorite, “We know you’ll go right back to oil & gas when it comes back.” I spent so much time being frustrated about it all, I couldn’t handle it. For shits and grins, I even began applying for that were truly below my abilities, just to see how it would work out: Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Uber (I actually drove for Uber for a while…that was kind of fun), etc. These jobs always handed me an offer, but I refused them, because it would mean I lose my unemployment benefits, that paid more. I assumed it was in my best interest to use my time to focus on the jobs I really wanted and the jobs I felt would help me take care of my family.
During that time, however, I began to question so much about myself, about my relationship, about my sexuality, my identity as a father, my identity as a man, my sexuality, etc., etc. I began to truly find so many faults with myself. This wasn’t a new thing for me, mind you, but it led me to some dark places, for sure – some of you have even witnessed some of it, recently. I tried dealing with my depression, anxieties and stress through various means. Some were healthy, like going hiking, going for walks, seeing a therapist, taking up rock climbing (I really enjoy these and need to get back to them), etc. Unfortunately, some were not healthy ways to deal with stress. I was drinking…a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean I probably, single-handedly, made Old Chicago’s revenue goals last year. Granted, I’m sure I was a light-weight compared to some people, but I felt I was becoming an alcoholic at the time. It was bad enough that my therapist suggested I go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings. Also, marriage was truly struggling – more so, than it had ever struggled in the past.
Eventually, however, things began coming to a definitive tipping point in my life. I found this current job’s advertisement at the end of December 2015 and began the application process. There were several people that I spoke with in interviews over the course of a couple of months. during this time, I kept expressing to my wife what my thoughts and opinions were on the job. I expressed what I thought was a good pay to accept the position, and I kept expressing that it would involve a move to Wyoming. Eventually, I was invited out to their production plant and I was made an offer. It was $20,000/yr. more than I would have accepted it. When I was offered the job, they needed me to start immediately.
By this time, I had been out of work for 13 months, my savings were gone, my unemployment benefits were gone, and I had applied and accepted a position at McDonald’s. We were already two weeks overdue for our mortgage and unable to pay any bills. My wife was working part time and it wasn’t going to help our situation much. Based on this situation, it made sense for me to accept the position. My wife didn’t like it. She didn’t want to move.
I understood how she felt. Early on in our relationship, we had moved a few different times, always for work and always for my job. She was tired, and I was too, truthfully. We were finally in a home we had lived in for 10 years straight and our kids had finally had a place they felt secure and comfortable at. But, inevitably, we were poised to lose it all, anyways. This current job was going to be a saving grace for us and I felt it was imperative for me to take it. And so I began this job back in April. My wife hated me for it.
Some of you might have remembered the post I made about this decision. It was not a good place to be, at all. I felt trapped, with little option to appease my wife and take care of the responsibilities I had. I expressed that this job was enough pay that she and I could literally split it down the middle and live in two different places and it would be good enough to take care of our bills and the last child we still have that is not an adult. she threatened divorce, threatened to call the police on me, if I came home. I was called everything anyone could imagine. She even threatened to tell everyone in my family about my sexuality (something I have kept hidden forever), since so many of my family were in support of me accepting this job.
I chose to compromise with her.
I have been applying for jobs back home and looking for ways to remain in Colorado. Unfortunately, I have not found anything. I have one potential job that has not been offered, but the president of that company is interested in talking to me about a position. I have interviewed for it, and exchanged several emails with him, but nothing official has occurred. I have already over-extended the time I was supposed to relocate, because the other job sounded so promising. My wife and I had discussed this and she agreed to give it until the end of this month to receive an offer; and last week we discussed it again and unless I hear something by today, we need to make a definitive decision. She has been looking for work back home, as well, in the hopes that by earning an income, I can accept a position that pays less. I currently have another interview for a different job, set up Friday – it literally pays 36% of what I’m making right now. That job would not help us, financially, in any way.
Unfortunately, I am stuck on this decision, but I have read a few things today – including the text message my dad sent – that are pretty telling to me. I know that this job, although in Wyoming (trust me, as much as my wife thinks I love it here, I hate it compared to Colorado), is a good option for my family. It’s got great benefits, great pay, and the potential to be something big. It’s also a huge gamble in a lot of ways too, but it’s what’s available right here and now. I truly believe, however, that I must get relocated pretty fast, in order to keep this job. But I also believe, that if I keep the job, my marriage will either end or be a life with a guilt-trip from here on out.
I simply see no other option at this point.