We have a tiny home, in a tiny town. We have two beautiful boys, and hopefully, come spring a dog to go with it. We struggled through life altering debt for years. Layoffs, job changes, family health issues, and through it all we managed to stay focused on our goals.
When we purchased our condo, 7 years ago, we had only intended on staying there for a few short years. It was an investment in our future. Neither of us had high-income levels, I worked cash jobs at clubs, doing security and restaurant work during the day, and my wife was trying to build a career at the college she had attended. We had general goals about careers but our primary focus was having a baby, building a family. Well on November 6 of 2010 that focus became a reality. Like any new reality, it needed new rules, or so we thought
I took a job through a friend of Shauna’s at a geophysics place, building and testing high powered transmitters, I started 4 days before our son was born. I don’t fully understand to this day how a group of Geophysicists and Engineers thought I would be qualified for this position. Maybe it was my understated wit and charm, or my Coaching and Leadership Diploma, or maybe just maybe, my high-level security background? As it turns out, it was plain, blinding nepotism. Scary.
I spend the majority of my 3 years faking it. Rotating between harassing the one kind engineer in the building with asinine questions, and reading “Electronics for Dummies”. This approach can only take you so far. During my time there I learned some helpful skills, not many but some, I developed no long lasting relationships and even managed to have myself a full on panic attack. My relaxed simple life had become a 2-hour commute, to go sit at a desk and be treated horribly, for $50000.
Now by no means am I complaining about the money, it was more than sufficient, especially due to the fact they were paying me to essentially “do my best”, and the commute can be justified for the money. The day it became clear this wasn’t the place for me was months after our second baby, 2 plus years after beginning my employment there, I returned to my desk/workshop after lunch to find all of the pictures of my family, along with my earbuds, in a box with “Not work appropriate” written on it. Still to this day I have no idea who did that. Needless to say, I stuck those damn pictures back on my walls and started listening to a podcast. When life gets me down, listening to some Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, always perks me back up!
A few days later, while sitting at my desk listening to my boss yell about shipment dates, I felt a tightness in my chest. My arms went numb from the elbows to my fingertips and the room got very dark. I was certain I was having a heart-attack and at 325 lbs who would have questioned it. So like any truly exceptional idiot, I walked outside on my own and sat on the ground. Please be aware, if you ever think you are having a heart-attack, do not go sit alone outside behind a dumpster, you will certainly die.
An ambulance was called, and I was informed, by the paramedic, that I had been the victim of a “very large anxiety attack”, a fucking nervous breakdown? Me? The relaxed Vancouver Island kid? No fucking chance. I was told to take the rest of the day off, how thoughtful, and collect myself. Now having a wife that has been diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder, and generalized anxiety, I had seen the effects of anxiety on people, just never experienced it myself. I went home and cried, I snuggled my kids, and for the first time in my adult life, I questioned my mental state. I thought I was a failure.
While crying in the bathroom, my wife came to me to find out what had happened, most likely thinking something had happened to my mother who had been very sick for several years. When I told her about my work day I felt terrible, I saw the pain in her face, I felt guilt for failing her and she consoled me. All of our years together and I had always tried to protect her from my emotions. I don’t know why I did that, but I had. I was always afraid of putting excess strain on her because I knew she was dealing with her own struggles. even when my mother was on life support I tried to be the brave one, the tough one, who held his chin high for his family. I never want the world to see me as weak, even the ones I love.
So when I broke down to her it was immeasurably hard. I told her ” I am trapped at that place, and I will never be able to leave” I was certain that was my destiny. I cried for what seemed like hours, and she consoled me every minute. This was the most vulnerable I had ever been, the most exposed, but she was there for me. She was my rock through those hard times, and the next couple years were hard. I never knew until that moment that I could rely on a person emotionally. I loved her with all my heart, but after that day I understood how much she loved me as well.
Days later, I was laid off from my work, given a severance and told to pack up. I was walked from the building without any opportunity to say goodbye to the few people I did like and told “condolences” when the closed the door behind me. Despite hating this job, my heart was broken. In a short span of time, I had become mentally fragile and now financially inept. Failure, failure, failure I repeated on my drive home. No statement could ring truer to me in that moment.
3 years later, after the housing markets had inflated, creating a wealth of people wanting to purchase our condo and a $60000 increase in it’s value we decided to sell. I had a stable income in an industry I never should have left in the first place, and we were growing a life that was our own. After tens of thousands of dollars of debt, several job changes, a home refinancing, and all of the marital stress that comes with those things, we had our life. In our tiny house, in our tiny town, and at 31 years old I was finally able to start my life, my true life that is, and see the forest through the trees.
Sometimes just going outside and looking at the visible stars at night puts all of the troubles of the past 6-7 years in perspective. Every dollar, every step, every pain was worth it after all! Now I can say with no hesitation, I have a wonderful life.