It's ComplicatedLast week it was the little things. This week, not so much.

I know anger is inevitable in this kind of process. A lot of the  sadness has been around for a couple of years so really, the anger is one of the only things I haven’t been able to deal with yet.

I’m mad. I’m not mad at E. I’m not mad AT anyone. I’m mad at circumstances. I’m mad at reasonable and smart choices I made that have now turned against me.

6 years ago I got engaged. Back then I was a practicing lawyer. I’d been out of grad school for 3 years. I’d graduated into a not-so-great market and didn’t have any useful connections but after some initial stumbles I found my way into my profession. Despite job changes and a big move and having to take the bar in a 2nd state, I had a job I liked. I felt happy where I was. 

After I got married I left that job for a non-professional one that didn’t have any advancement track. What it had was less hours and more money. My husband was in school. He was on a job path that allowed for very little wiggle room and had a very positive eventual outcome. Right then we needed the money more than we needed me to have a strong CV. 

We had a kid. We moved. My job was no longer feasible. I didn’t have the time or money to take the bar in a 3rd state (and the market was dismal anyway).  So I took a job as an Admin Assistant. You guys, I’ve never really talked much about that. I was so anxious to work in some way, I was at a really rough patch, it was right around the time of Graham’s diagnosis and I was seriously depressed and I needed to go to work every day. But I was a lawyer. Taking a job as an office assistant. My job didn’t require a college degree. I did a lot of things that mattered, but my job also included duties like ordering coffee and sending packages. I made an hourly wage. Had I stayed there after I had Tessa I would’ve had to clock out to pump.

But with a second kid coming and more needed of me at home, with the lack of flexibility at work, with all the goodwill I’d already gone through since I was always the one to take care of every doctor’s appointment, every sick day, every pregnancy appointment of my own, it wasn’t worth it anymore. And so I stayed home.

And that’s where I’ve been for a year and a half.

It’s been 5 years since I worked as a lawyer. I was really good at what I did, but that doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t know who would hire me now. I’ve been out of it longer than I was in it.

I made all these decisions because I wasn’t making them for me. I was making them for a family. A family where one person had absolutely no flexibility at work and I had to be able to work around that. I knew this was what I was signing up for. But I also knew that it would all end up being worth it. Someday we’d be past the schooling, the training, the low salary. Someday we’d have a comfortable income. Someday I’d have the freedom to decide when and where and how and why I went back to work and it wouldn’t matter how much money I made.

And now all that is gone. Just gone.

All these years I worked for it and waited for it and sacrificed for it. And now it’s not here and it never will be.

I’m not mad at E. We made these decisions together. They were the obvious and best options at the time. We both moved forward with the assumption that things would continue the way we’d always imagined. But the truth of the matter is that he didn’t make the same sacrifices I did and he won’t see any impact on his career.

Now I’m in job limbo. The business I started that was giving us some extra income was something we both did, so it’s now lost a significant amount of clients and money now that it’s just me. I’ve promised E the kids will be where he is so there’s a lot of uncertainty when it comes to long-term location.

What if we move? Not only would I have no idea what my job path will be, I don’t even know what state it would be in. I don’t know what the market there is like since I don’t know where there is. I don’t know what my budget would be. I don’t know what my childcare options would be. It’s all just this big mess that I can’t do anything about right now.

And even when all that is set. Even when I know what cards I get dealt, even then I’m going to need work and money and I hope I can find the perfect job with the perfect lifestyle and the perfect salary. But what if I have to sacrifice again, take the wrong job just to make sure I can bring home a salary? Just to keep my family stable?

When I look at the rest of my future: the kids’ futures, my romantic future, my emotional future, I can handle it. I feel hopeful. I feel good. But when I look at my career I feel a pit in my stomach. I feel the hundreds of jobs I’ve spent the last decade applying for and the small handful I got. I feel powerless to make it happen in a crappy economy with a sporadic job history and a skill set that is much more general than specific. 

So yeah. I’m angry.

I’m angry at the universe. And I don’t know that it’ll go away any time soon.


  1. says

    I’m sorry. And I understand. My circumstances are different, but the career fears and issues are similar. You are incredibly smart and resourceful and talented; I have no doubt you will land on your feet at some point. I know it doesn’t help make the anger dissipate or a job materialize, but I’m certain you will find something.

    Maybe you can trade services for web design and writing with a life/job coach who might be able to help you reframe, hone in on a focus, help make connections? Just thinking out loud…
    Niksmom recently posted..Phone Home

  2. says

    I can relate to your anger. When I graduated law school back in 1999, I made a series of decisions that almost ruined my chances to be an attorney at all. I was quite angry and sad. However, I kept looking, fighting, and believing. I got my first legal job, and things started to improve. I have faith in you. You are a damn good attorney. It is not a question of if you can get back into the legal profession, it is only a question of when.

  3. says

    I don’t really know what to say other than I’m sending you a whole lot of positive vibes and mental hugs from the next state over.

    The anger’s ok though…part of the process as you know.

    I can offer this suggestion if it’s helpful in the least: My office has a legal team to answer member’s general questions. I work for an education not for profit and at least one of them is part time. Maybe there’s an option like that for you out in Boston. I know that organizations like Rosie’s offer legal help. It might get your foot back in the door.
    BakingSuit recently posted..Things that made me smile. Week 25, 2013

  4. says

    I have made career sacrifices, as well. I am stymied as to where to even begin to get back into any semblance of a career. So I feel ya. I do. My life situation is different, but putting myself in your shoes, well, I would be in a similar state.

    Sending lots of positive thoughts your way. Hoping the right opportunity comes along and helps you jump start your career.
    Lisa recently posted..Now, I know…

  5. says

    I can totally sympathize, as I am experiencing something similar. I have always followed my husband’s career path, and right now, I am in limbo. As you know, we just moved which is absolutely the right decision for our family. But I am having a tough time finding a job in my chosen field, which is school librarian. When we moved last time for my husband’s job, we ended up in a small town where the librarians never left, so I never had the opportunity to do what I went to graduate school for (and the reason why I have student loans). I was able to get a job as reference librarian for a community college, but now five years out of graduate school, I have no experience in a school library beyond my student teaching, and I think that is why I haven’t even been considered for several positions. But how can I get experience unless someone takes a chance on me? And the longer it takes for me to get hired, the harder it will be for me to get a job. I am feeling overwhelmed right now (though I’m sure it’s nothing compared to how you feel, Jessica), and I guess I do feel some anger too. It’s definitely not fun.
    Zoë recently posted..We Made It

  6. JoLee says

    I would be angry about this stuff too. In fact, sometimes I am really frustrated about this stuff. All the sacrifices we women make for our families. We have a long way to go.

  7. says

    I, too, am a lapsed lawyer, currently at home with my toddler and infant. I do enjoy them immensely but time is flying by and I wonder daily what I can do for income, something that gives me life while also being a legit livelihood.

    I am glad I found your blog because like you said, you write about the underbelly of stuff and I’d much rather read thoughtful, straight-shooting text than cool pictures or trying-too-hard-to-be-pfunny Top Ten Lists (including intimate, fake letters to their spouse). Keep on writing – I’ll be reading!

  8. says

    This makes me nervous and angry and sad. I’m feeling terrified as I look ahead. As it is, it’s Friday night and I have my kids this weekend but didn’t get enough work done today, and Monday’s a holiday, so I will have to get up at 5 a.m. for the next 3 days to try to get some hours in before they get up. I might be looking at an admin job or anything that will give me benefits, but I also need flexibility. I’m glad you’re in a much better space now.
    Julia recently posted..Fall Baking With Bob’s Red Mill and Stonyfield


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