When I’m Gone

I’ve written about suicide on my blog a time or two. The truth is, I probably struggle with thoughts of killing myself more often than I should. If I died tomorrow – I wonder, what would people say about me? Could my family even conjure up enough friends to carry my coffin?  Would people miss me when I’m gone?

Someone very close to me is going through an unspeakable tragedy right now. His step-son died. He shot himself. Although it isn’t official, it appears to have been done on purpose. Leaving my friend utterly destroyed, feeling like he “failed” his step-son, somehow. I know this man, and I can speak with confidence to the fact that he did not. He was a great step-father, raising this boy as if he were his own, for the better part of 14 years.

I made my way to the young man’s obituary online. I signed my family’s name to the guest book. Then, began perusing some of the other entries. It was heartbreaking. Then again, I suppose, that’s the way it should be. Many people not only expressed condolenses to the family, but shared stories about “fond memories” with the young man, describing him as “honest” and “genuine.” A classmate talked about his “energy” and “compassion” and how he taught her to “stand up for myself, and to believe in everything.” I mean – wow! For a young man of only 18, that’s quite a commendation from his peers, don’t you think. There were other entries from parents of his friends. And they all basically said the same thing; he was one upstanding individual!

It all begs the question; did he know this? Did he know his friends thought of him “fondly” and admired his honesty and his authenticity? Did he know he was leading by example; teaching others to stand up for themselves? Did he know? Could even begin to imagine the things people would say about him after he died? If he had, is it possible, he’d still be here?

– J. Ela

candles

(This post is dedicated to SPM 1996 – 2014, Rest In Peace) 

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Deliver Me

I’m going through an absolute shit-storm right now. There’s just no other way to put it. I haven’t hit the proverbial “rock-bottom” yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Searching for something, I found something else; words I had jotted down on the outside of a manila folder. I don’t recall when or under what circumstances. The paragraphs, if you want to call them that, are written in an almost nonsensical pattern; starting in the middle, moving left, then back to the right, then upward. And in the middle of it all the words “Deliver Me!” with a box drawn around it. And “Thank You!” scribbled at the end. The words, as relevant today as when I wrote them down the first time.

Courtesy: Deviant Art/cycyuts

Deliver Me – Courtesy: Deviant Art/cycyuts

 

I rescued my kid – plz rescue me! I can’t promise never to screw up again. I can only promise to try to do better. Better than what? Better than my folks? Better than the guy next to me? Better than yesterday or 10 or 20 years ago? The only person I have to compare myself to is that girl. That young, stupid girl. Words – words and more words. No matter how many, it doesn’t change a thing.

Of all the mistakes I’ve ever made, this one isn’t the worst! I am imperfect. Doing the best I can. It’s all relative. I think I’m doing okay. Surely the good things I did will compensate for my mistakes? I started out with good intentions. Tell me, I did not pave my own path to hell.

I’m still sitting here. Praying to be delivered. Yet again. My words don’t matter. Only the words of a strangers. I’ve in the position before. It seems unfair. Why should a stranger have more control over my life than I do. Control. A lack of it. It does seem like someone has always had more control over my life than me. But is my life mine?

And when shit happens, and it always does, it will happen again, I will get the blame. Not the other people who have taken over control of my life. Control but no blame. Why is that fair?

Fair – that’s why we’re all here today, right? To make sure justice is handed down. Equally. I know there is no such thing as justice or equal justice. No one wins. No one loses.  – Thank you! 

deliver me

 

– J. Ela

Grateful and Ambitious

I hate it, just absolutely despise being told I’m not “grateful” for what I have.

Because I have a job, I should be satisfied, never aspiring to more?

I can be both; grateful and ambitious!

If I didn’t aspire to more, then I’d be lazy.

Even ungrateful to the opportunities presented to me.

Just this year alone, I’ve been passed over for no less than five promotions. I was finally offered a job at another company, only to have it rescinded due to something on a background check. Something I had no idea existed! I was worried about a traffic ticket! What got me was something from more than six years ago. The background check grossly over exaggerated the event! It was such a non event, it never occurred to me to disclose it! I hadn’t even thought about it, probably since then, it was such a non event!

I’m mad as hell! Beyond that, even. Words can’t even describe how I feel.

– J. Ela

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Suicide hotline hang-up

I called the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. I’ve never called it before. But in a moment of absolute weakness, I did.

We talked a few minutes then the rep put me on hold to answer another call. I got disconnected. While I’m sitting there wondering if it’s a sign…they called back. But just a few minutes in, we were interrupted again by a ringing phone that no one was there to answer. It stopped ringing. Which means a call went unanswered. I felt guilty. It’s the suicide prevention network hotline. By the time people are calling there, it’s nearly to late. Get it together people!

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– J. Ela

Do Unto Others

…but for the grace of God go I.

It is seldom far from my mind that I am among the millions living one paycheck away from homelessness. That’s why when I’m approached by someone asking for a hand-out it’s hard to say “No!”

I must have a neon sign over my head that says, “ask her!” because it seems I get asked a lot. Recently, one morning on the way to work I stopped at the drugstore to pick-up something. On my way out an older gentleman came up to me asking if I could “spare a dollar or two.” I laughed, out loud. Little did he know I had just scraped the bottom of my purse for change to pay for my purchase inside. I told him. He laughed too. He apologized for asking and told me to have a nice day.

My philosophy toward giving is this: do it when you can, don’t when you can’t.

If you can’t give monetarily find other ways to give. Give your time; serving food at a soup kitchen. Give your things; donating gently used clothing, etc. to a homeless shelter. Give your ear; listening and being friend to someone who has fallen on hard times.

The most important thing to remember is this; don’t be mislead by the stereotype. The man or woman standing on the corner begging for your change may not be a “vagrant.” They may just be down on their luck. A single mom; college educated, out of work,  hoping for a break. A father; man of the family, lost his job after 15 years with the same company. Men and women who have spent their entire life savings, and then some, trying to avoid the situation they now find themselves in. Humiliated. Humbled.

 

– J. Ela

Don’t Get Mad: Get Going

There is something to be said about rejection. Applying for the same job over and over and over and… (well, you get the idea) only to be rejected. Even worse; applying for a job at the company you already work for, only to be rejected. I have a plethora of experience when it comes to that.

Before finally landing the job I have now, I applied for it no less than three times in one year. In the past six months, I think I’ve applied for at least four jobs that I didn’t get. And every time someone has to look me in the eye and tell me: “we’re going with another candidate.” You’d think they’d get tired of it. I know I certainly am.

I wonder what they’re thinking? Is this girl ever going to give up? Why does she keep doing this to herself? To us? Do they think, “wow, she’s got guts!” or “geesh, what an idiot!”

By now, I’ve gone through all the stages of grief and back again. It’s hard when you think you deserve a promotion and don’t get it. It’s worse when it happens repeatedly. It causes you to question everything about yourself. Your ability. Your ‘likability.’ Did you choose the wrong career? Has your passion been misplaced?

A quick Google search let’s me know I’m not alone in my anguish. There are enough, “So You Were Passed Over For a Promotion” articles floating around the web to fill a library. Some of them are really good. Some, are a little less inspiring. Misery does love company? Yes.

Artwork Courtesy: Siobhan Alcaide

The point of all this rambling is simply to say this: When the going get’s tough, don’t get mad, just get going! I’ve beaten odds greater than this before. I’ll do it again. Yes, there is something to say for rejection. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I’m sure there is something to say.

 

– J. Ela

 

 

A Stagnated Pond

I read recently in a career-related blog; if you’re not growing you’re stagnant. I don’t remember where I read it (otherwise I’d give proper credit). It stuck with me.

If you’re not growing, you’re stagnant. 

That’s what I am; stagnant.

adjective
– having no current or flow and often having an unpleasant smell as a consequence.
– showing no activity; dull and sluggish.
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Minus the ‘unpleasant smell’ that pretty well sums it up. I’m a dingy pond. A green pool in the backyard of a foreclosed home. Okay, so maybe I do smell. A little. The smell of desperation? Someone who desperately needs a growth spurt.
The problem is, as I see it, I lack a clear path forward. A year ago I had a vision. I had a plan. Since acting on that plan I’ve been met with a barrage of negative feedback.
Statements like: I’m “not there yet” and “not ready” or not of the “quality” or “material” needed to do the job I so desperately desire. I’ve been told to focus on what I “do have” instead of what I don’t; and that my desire to grow is “a long shot.”
Lately I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the choice I made to come here. It’s easy to see in hindsight it wasn’t the right choice. I convinced myself it was. And now I feel utterly stuck.
How does one get “unstuck” from a situation like this? With so many people looking for work, should I just shut up and be grateful for the job I do have?
– J. Ela