Failure at 43...That's Me!
October 25, 2010 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a little guidance in turning this ship around at 43.

Since 2008, the following has happened in succession:

Death of my father (06/08)
Layoff after 9 years with company (11/08)
New job (02/09)
Fired (08/09)
New job out of state without family (01/10)

I'm currently residing in the Northeast, six hours away (by car) from my family that I see twice a month when I go home. My job is in IT working with network monitoring. I'm going on my 11th month come November. My goal was to be up here for some time and get a job back in Central NC as soon as possible. I've had very few nibbles back home.

My wife is getting anxious and has wondered out loud why I would want to be away from my 5 year old son and family for so long. There is nothing further from the truth. I love both of them and it breaks my heart when I have to leave on Sunday to get back North for work on Monday.

I hate my job. I took it because it was a skill set I had a few years back. They hired me with two phone interviews. The environment is the exact OPPOSITE of what I thrive in. I feel trapped. My boss and I don't gel. I feel useless. After 10 years in this field, I've had no luck in learning scripting or programming; i just don't get it and it's hard for me to get into it. I have no web experience...making sites or anything. I know how to do it...just haven't done much. I feel lost. I'm depressed, obese and at wits end. To be honest, I feel like I've been faking my career since 2009 and getting away with it.

What can I do to get myself employed back home and feeling better about myself? I'm sure given the current economy, others have experienced this hell also. I have on-call duties over Christmas (which requires me to be local here in the Northeast), that I would love to avoid. I know that's close to impossible...but, it's a shot. I'm rambling...I know. Thanks for listening to me! BTW, I am currently on medication and seeing a therapist. I looking to change the therapist...
posted by littleredwagon to Work & Money (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here's a thought out of left field - does your wife have a job that could support the family for a while? If so, what about quitting your job and going back to school? Perhaps you could take a few classes or pick up a certificate/associate's degree in network security. It would leverage your existing network knowledge/background, with an area that seems to be growing.

Or, since you don't have the typical child care duties after work, maybe take a class in your current location while keeping your job. If you look around, I'm sure you could find a situation (community college, especially) that caters to the full-time worker with off-hours or online classes.

Also, it does suck to be away from your family on Christmas, but it's not the end of the world. You (and your family) will survive! Make a special Daddy Christmas for the previous or following weekend. Your son might even think it's extra special that he gets TWO Christmases, while his friends get only one.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:11 AM on October 25, 2010


This is really rather a large question. I guess you have a couple choices. One is to keep doing a job in a field you don't really care about, and just make sure that you have job security and job options by focusing on skillsets that are needed in many places (including NC) and hard to find others to do. The alternative is to start the difficult effort of figuring out what you really care about and could make money doing. That'll probably depend on how much you need to bring in to continue to support your family.

A few concrete suggestions for pursuing that alternative: explain to your wife that you need help navigating and making a career change, discuss the family budget with an eye toward making it possible for you to take a cut in income and/or go back to school (your mutual desire to have you back home is a good place to start here), address the depression (continue therapy, take a walk every day), begin trying to understand what you actually care about and would like doing for a career, take an inventory of all your skills and think about which overlap with what you'd enjoy most, and try out new things via evening or weekend volunteer work. That's all pretty hard, but the essential ones are -- tell your wife you need help changing careers, cut the budget together, stay in therapy, and take a walk every day.
posted by salvia at 11:12 AM on October 25, 2010


Look, you need to either 1) find a new job or 2) move your family up north. I'm kind of at a loss as to why you haven't done the latter already. That's what people do when daddy's/mommy's job sends him/her elsewhere.

Short of that, no, I don't see much you can do to help this situation, because this isn't how it's supposed to work. People do not generally think of multi-hour commutes to see their families twice a month as normal, let alone optimal. The idea that you could make this work for any period longer than a month or two, i.e. the time it takes to move your family, would not have occurred to anyone I know.

So no, I don't think many others have "experienced this hell," as you put it. Most of them just move.

Yeah, there are a lot of people in jobs they hate--I don't actively hate mine (yet!), but I'm sending out resumes as fast as I can--but that's a lot easier to manage if you aren't also trying to manage the fact that you're away from your family. Fix that one, and the rest will be easier.
posted by valkyryn at 11:14 AM on October 25, 2010


You are not a failure. Please don't forget what you have in life. You mention a wife and a 5 year old son you want to be with (and that's wonderful! not everyone has them).

How about stopping for a minute (since fate seems to be stopping you anyway) and using the situation to tap in and find out what you'd like to be working at?

Don't just note your dream job. While you're at it jot down all the jobs you'd rather be doing instead of what you do now (considering you hate your current job, there should be more than one). Then focus on switching over to one of those close to home and when you do, get working on a long time plan to reach your dream job.

(I know all that isn't easy. It might be wise to get help from a career counselor and life coach, or enlist your therapist in this).
posted by mirileh at 11:21 AM on October 25, 2010


Don't have anything in the way of advice, but . . . I can tell you that I know about 5 other people who had 3-6+ life-changing bad things happen to them in/around 2009, including myself. One of those things would be rough to deal with, all of them on top of each other is very difficult.

Kudos to you for getting a therapist.

If I were in charge, I think I would put finding new job on the back burner for 30 days, spend that time focusing on finding a therapist who fits better, discuss adjusting your meds, and finding little ways (notes? texts? tiny presents?) to reassure your wife that you *do* want to be there with her.
posted by MeiraV at 11:38 AM on October 25, 2010


My wife is getting anxious and has wondered out loud why I would want to be away from my 5 year old son and family for so long.

Perhaps you need to have a better line of communication about this with her. I imaging it's just as likely she just had a weak moment with her own frustrations when she said that. But you SHOULD make sure you're staying open with her about the fact that this isn't what you want but it's what you feel you have to do.

Perhaps she doesn't think you have to do this and something like SuperSquirrel's idea of her taking up the financial slack would work. Perhaps she's wondering why you haven't moved everyone in together as merileh is (though I'd imagine it's because of a financial tie in NC like a home).

Whatever it is, I think that statement is a call to make sure you're involving her in these thoughts and decisions. If nothing else you should let her support you with a shoulder to commiserate on - it's why we partner up in life and we get as much value from supporting our partners as we do being supported by them. Let her help you and feel like a part of this.

You sound like making good choices in the face of a bad situation. Don't let that make you feel like a failure. You have a lot going for you in your skills and your family - don't let yourself forget it. As I saw someone else say on a different board today, "it's a shit sandwich but sometimes in life you have to eat a shit sandwich." Having to make hard choices doesn't make you a failure, it just makes you a person.

good luck
posted by phearlez at 12:00 PM on October 25, 2010


I have on-call duties over Christmas (which requires me to be local here in the Northeast)

Book a meeting with your boss and explain to him that you have a problem with this. For an employee who lives locally being on-call is not a huge deal, for you it means you will miss christmas and your young family will be spending their christmas without daddy.

If you explain the situation and your boss still insists you 'must be on-call over xmas', then you really are working for a toxic employer and should quit.
posted by Lanark at 12:49 PM on October 25, 2010


I just gotta say, you sound like a dedicated guy who is working hard for his family and trying sincerely to do the right thing. Give yourself some credit for that.

As far as Christmas and family: can they at least come up north for Christmas so you can all be together?

I like the idea of trying to shift careers; sounds like this one is really not working for you. Is there a way you can work a maybe worse-paying but happier-making gig closer to home, or as others suggested can mom work while you do some career-changing/kid-taking-care-of? I mean, even working in a freaking bookstore part-time while you sort out your life may be more satisfying than what you've got going now—beware the "golden handcuffs."

It sounds like one of the first things you have to improve is your communication with your wife. You guys are there to support each other through difficulty and it sounds like that support has been challenged lately; I can't speculate as to why but it's something to work on. If you sit down with your wife and talk through your family's priorities and ways to get back on track, that seems like a good start.

Things are not hopeless! Often times you just have to re-frame the situation.
posted by dubitable at 1:17 PM on October 25, 2010


Christmas in the Northeast. Tell your wife you really, really want her to come up and spend it with you. Given the incredible amount of driving you're doing, this is a reasonable request. Get a charlie brown tabletop tree and some lights. Bring the stockings. Be together. It will make a good memory for your child.

This is the worst economy most of us will ever experience. You are working. Way to go! You are caring for your responsibilities, and are to be admired for what you are willing to endure. Involve your family, even the 5 year old. When people sacrifice together, it makes them stronger together. Doesn't have to be huge sacrifice, can be as simple as giving up cable or having beans & rice 1 night a week, to help the family finances.

I'm so sorry about your dad. You have experienced serious losses. Depression is a typical response, compounded by loneliness and isolation. You've taken the step of getting help.

In short, you're failing at being a failure (leetle joke). You're one more person caught in a rotten situation, and you're doing better than many at dealing with it.

Watch teevee shows at the same time and chat, text, skype together. You can share fun even apart. Join second life or another online community and hang out virtually. Have phone sex. I know a couple who lives apart, and they do the NPR radio puzzles together. With your family's love and support, you'll come through your hard times.
posted by theora55 at 7:14 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


One thing that always, ALWAYS brings a smile to my now middle-aged face is when I see a photo of my family when I was a very young kid. It is striking how little we actually had, but you can see it plain as day right there in the pic.

What's kind of bizarre, though, is that the memories I have of that time are of nothing but the happiest and most carefree time. I remember my mom was always there to lend a hand or entertain or make some food for my siblings and me. (I now know she must have been constantly worried to death about how they were going to make the house payment, etc. each month.)

When my dad would get home from work, I was thrilled because he'd play and joke with me, and, if I was really lucky, lift me up on his shoulders and trot me around the house at what seemed like 30,000 feet. (I now know his job sucked, he hated it, and he must have been tired as all hell.)

Have a heart-to-heart with your wife, and play with your son.

My dad is no longer living, but I'm pretty sure that he had his own good memories in his older years when he'd see the pics of the "good old days" as well. I regret never asking him.

I think it's less about the destination and more about the journey. Best of luck to you and your family! And, when your son is an adult, and you two see an ancient pic of these newer "good old days" please share your fond memories of this time with one another.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 4:10 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone for the kinds words of encouragement and the suggestions! I'll try and answer a few things here...

@SuperSquirrel - unfortunately, not an option at this time. Never was into the security aspect of networks, perhaps i should take another look. My wife's a copywriter, so we'll need another income. :0 Love the Daddy Christmas idea. So would my son!

@salvia - thank you! i'm in the process now of gathering things together to figure out my strongest skillset. Budgeting is a must for us now... Been walking at work during the week...and the park on weekends. I need to keep this up!

@valkyryn - the reasons are this: too expensive up here, son is in a great school, job is not the best. Trust me, I understand.

@mirileh - I've thought of this and will get on this task. Thanks for the advice!

@MeiraV - Thank you!

@phearlez - Thanks! I'm no longer hungry anymore...;-)

@Lanark - Unfortunately, I knew this requirement going in. Heck, they even offered me relocation as part of my package.

@dubitable - I need to work on the communication. That's one area which i am the suck. We'll look into the Christmas idea....thanks!

@theora55 - We do skype, which is great. Thanks for the kick in the pants! I must remember I AM employed. Others are not as lucky as I.

@InsertNiftyNameHere - Wow. Thank you!

Everyone...thank you! I have some ideas now and will move forward with them. This is a great outlet!
posted by littleredwagon at 4:44 AM on October 26, 2010


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