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Rising Like A Phoenix From The Ashes

How Managing Conflict Can Make You Stronger and More Resilient

I always tell people, especially those braggadocios Jones’, that one day you could be up and the next day you could be down. It’s a strike of luck. And anyone’s luck can change at any moment.

Taking You To The Edge, Not Over

Right now, I’m in the midst of an overwhelming life obstacle. Several months ago I finally committed to writing my book. I realized, at 44, that it was time to finally write the damn thing. Then coronavirus turned our world upside down. Work, school, money, homeschooling, housewifing — all led to constant interruptions and no time to write.

I felt like the universe was conspiring against me, as it had so many times before. I was pissed off, shaking my fist at the universe saying, “There is NOTHING that’s going to stop me this time!”

I thought about giving up again. I did. But, I knew there was a reason. You see, I know this is all a test of strength, tying to push me beyond my comfort zone. There are lessons wrapped up in this, something that still needs to be learned.

How Do I Know?

I’ve watched my life burn down to the ground more times than I can count. But, each time I rise like the Phoenix from the ashes. The following story is one of those life events.

The Abusive Marriage

I was in the midst of an extremely unhealthy 7-year marriage. I was 21 when we met, a single mom with definite co-dependency issues. He was the 32 year old knight in shining armor I’d always dreamed of. He was doting and put me on a pedestal. I never wanted for anything. He treated me better than anyone ever had in my entire life. 

But nothing lasts forever. Things changed. He started drinking more and more. And the last few years of our marriage, I lived in what felt like a jail of terror.

He wouldn’t let me leave.

Get Out

I wanted to leave, but was scared to death of what might happen. I started begging for a divorce. This went on for years. When he finally agreed, he handed me papers and I signed away my life. I walked away from a million dollar house, cars, furniture, savings accounts, retirement funds, a future inheritance, everything. But what I did have, was a year-long restraining order and my freedom.

This all happened in the midst of the recession and it wasn’t long after the divorce that I lost my lucrative consulting job. The little money I had saved was running out and I found myself falling into a dark depression.

The Accident

On New Year’s Day, I had a grand-mal seizure while driving my car on a highway. I had an “allergic” reaction to a medication I was taking and I was lucky to be alive. No one was hurt, just my car that smashed into the guardrail. I totaled my only valuable asset. No comprehensive car insurance, no money coming back to me.

The Free Fall Continues

The officer at the hospital told me because of the seizure, I wouldn’t be able to drive for a year. The final act was the bill I got from VDOT. I was responsible for paying for the damaged guardrail. I was in a free fall. My life was completely freaking over. I had no money, no car, a restricted license, and when I got home, I had an eviction notice.

Where Are The Jobs

Who was going to buy the food? I needed money, desperately, but not a soul on earth was hiring. My headhunter couldn’t find anything, everyone was looking for a job. 

A job is a job.

I was lucky enough to get a part-time job at Ann Taylor. It was about a 10 minute drive from my house, but the way the bus route worked, I had to take three buses to get there. 3 BUSES! I made $7.50/hr for 18 hours a week. If you do the math, by the time taxes and bus fees take their cut, I was bringing home a big, fat nothing burger. 

Is That A Light In The Tunnel?

It had been over 3 months since I had been off the medication. After brainwave studies and dosing on anti-seizure meds, my neurologist was able to get my license restriction lifted. I could finally drive again.

Later that week I received a call from my daughter’s father, someone I hadn’t spoken to in years who just happened to owe me tens of thousands in child support. He said he had a sinking feeling that I needed help. He put $1,000 into to my account. It didn’t matter that it was just a drop in the bucket, I still heard angels singing.

Yes, That Is A Light!

My now husband was able to find me a car for exactly $1,000. Have you ever seen a car worth $1,000? It had a broken back window and a hood that would randomly pop open. So, he and I put a trash bag on that back window and put duct tape around it. And the hood, well, we held that down with bungee cords. Boy, was I a sight to behold kicking around my town in that thing. But…I had a car.

Is that a light?

False Alarm

At the end of a shift at Ann Taylor, I came home to find yet another eviction notice. I hadn’t realized so many “late fees” had accrued. So even though I thought I had made rent, I really hadn’t. And those fees just kept going up.

I started reaching out to people I had helped in the past. But, they too, were struggling thanks to the recession. I took a big bite of humble pie and started calling my, ‘if the sh**  hits the fan’ list, only to hit another brick wall (and a good slice of my pride).

“Mom, what’s this?”, My 13 year old asked me as she walked in from school. She held a piece of paper in her hand, “THIRD NOTICE”, it said. Looking back with fear in her eyes she asks,“Does this mean we have to leave?”.

Lord, I Can Feel The Edge

Finally, my headhunter got me an interview with a software startup. I felt so awkward driving to that interview in my beat up car, wearing old clothes that no longer fit. I felt like I was going to poop my pants or cry. Or both.

But, wow, the guy who interviewed me couldn’t have been more awesome. We spent an hour and a half just talking and laughing. I don’t even remember if we talked about the position. But, he did ask me to come in for a second interview.

Now, My Toes Are Dangling

“Final Notice : You have 2 weeks to pay the full balance or we will evict you and auction off your possessions”.

And there it was. My feet halfway over that edge. My balance unsteady. Where would we go? The woman’s shelter? I had helped a co-worker get a ride to and from there when she needed it. It was small. Where would we put our things? How would we eat?

On the edge.

The phone ringing knocked me out of my trance. It was my headhunter. “You got the job, congratulations! Can you start Monday?” I guess I grunted out a “yes” because he continued. “You’ll get your first paycheck in 2 weeks. Oh, and I forgot, the offer also includes full benefits”. After we hung up, I literally fell to my knees and cried, “Thank God, Thank God, Thank God!”.

New Beginnings

Leaving for my first day of work that Monday morning was so empowering. I walked into my daughter’s bedroom to give her a hug. Although I had been to hell and back, my daughter got a birds eye view on how her mom hung in there and fought hard as hell. I fought and I won. I never gave up.

Never Underestimate Yourself

Like I said, when you’re up you’re up, but it doesn’t take much to bring you back down again. I gained wisdom that cannot be taught. I have a deeper understanding and respect for the person in that beat up car. She’s hustling just like the rest of us. I learned that you should never underestimate yourself. And above all, I learned that being grateful isn’t about the tangible things in life. It is about being grateful FOR life, whether you are up or down.

In the end, I was promoted to Sales Manager and my career took off again. I was able to get a home and even a new car that didn’t have it’s hood bungeed. I married my boyfriend and soon after was pregnant with my, now, 10 year old daughter.

When life gets hard just remember, when you make it to the other side you will understand why it was part of your journey.

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