The Perfect Couple. The Perfect Job.

the-great-depression

When I was 25 I got divorced. The reasons for the divorce included lots of factors, but one of the factors that really helped the down fall of the marriage was my ex-husband’s misfortune of being involved in the dotbomb.

One by one his friends lost their very highly paid jobs and over priced houses. When it was his turn, he did not take it very well.

The computer industry while prior to the dotbomb was well paid, it was extremely grueling. Eighteen hour work days, seven days a week wasn’t unusual. It was standard. To lose your job when you worked so hard and had taken so many tests, was a harsh slap and a realization that this new industry was not one about community, but about money.

In about month eight of him being told, “No, your technical expertise in the field of computers and your degree are worth nothing.” He began to just sit in our apartment and play video games.

Don’t judge him in a harsh way. He had in month five dropped his standards. He applied for jobs at:

Ralphs, as a checker.
LAPD, as a cop.
UPS, anything they had.
Circuit City, as a salesperson.
The City of LA, as some kind of computer person.

Every time he got a rejection letter he would spend hours online searching for work and being sad. It made me sad that he was sad. We were ok financially, though he had to give up his beloved SUV. I was not happy that he had purchased this SUV. It was a surprise for “us.” But I was not happy that it had to go away owing to us no longer being able to afford it on just my income. We had to downsize our life considerably.  I didn’t care about not being able to do the things that we did before. I married him because I loved him, not because he could get me lots of stuff. We had started dating when I was 17 and he was 19.  I told him that this was a good thing our life would be more simple,  but he was still very sad. I would come home everyday and be extremely positive, but I could never get home before the rejection letters.

My solution for a month or so was to hold the mail at our local post office. I thought maybe if I could stop the bad news for just a few weeks, he would cheer up.  I would stop by the post office after work go through the mail,  open it up secretly and throw away any unpleasant news; rejection letters, bills that where late and then I would discreetly seal back any potential good news (waiting lists) and  would place it in our mailbox, so he would think the postman had put it there.
 
As a 23 year old I thought lying was part of being a good partner. We both thought lying was ok.

We lied to his parents about the truth of our situation.
We lied to my parents about the truth of our situation.
We lied to friends, bill collectors, each other, all so we could lie about a type of perfection that only exists in 1950 TV shows.

He was out of work for an entire year. It was very mentally draining for him. It was very draining for me. To watch a person become a shell of their former self owing to just not being able to find a job was one of the most horrible things I have ever experienced. I’m sure it was worse for him.

I remember hearing him telling me how he had failed me and just being so upset that he couldn’t even get a call back and just pacing back in forth in our apartment. He never went to sleep, ever.

It pretty much destroyed us.  I never thought anything could have destroyed us. I thought we were perfect, but back then I don’t think either of us understood that there is no such thing as perfect.

by Browne Molyneux

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About Browne Molyneux

My name is Browne Molyneux. I'm a lady. I'm a radical feminist. I'm black. I'm an Angeleno. I'm an artist. I'm carFREE. I'm a freelance writer. I'm a blogger. I'm a philosopher. I'm a humanist. I'm a journalist. I formerly wrote a column on transportation, Tracks for LA City Beat. The above are all of the things I have to work on being, got questions email me. browne@shametrainla.com My topics of interests include but are not limited to politics, transportation, dark green issues, economics, race relations, feminism, culture, working class urban life, media, art, Los Angeles and literature.

15 thoughts on “The Perfect Couple. The Perfect Job.

  1. wow, i dunno what to say. It just makes me wonder of all of the unexpected thing that can happen between you and that “perfect love” that you have.

  2. so here is this guy sinking into depression, and you decide to divorce him? (assuming here)

    what ever happened to him, did he bounce back? is he still here with us??

    this story doesn’t seem to have a happy ending…

  3. Hey Pancho…
    Dealing with a partner who is going through clinical depression can destroy your soul. Often, there is no happy ending in such situations, it’s way more complex than “deciding to divorce” someone.

    Great post Browne.

  4. wow… I hope my relationship doesn’t end up like yours did
    my BF has been out of work for 4 months so far and it is very difficult trying to be supportive and frustrating to not be able to do anything to make him feel better
    I’m doing my best though

  5. Its sad when people are so money focused, instead of human focused. yep, identifying your value as a human in $, f’s you up every time. Hope he was able to survive that lesson and find his true self. Some people never do.

  6. Awesome post.
    i agree with Victoria, it is about the perception you have about your value. Are you valuable because you have money and stuff? I heard Simon Silva speak this weekend and he brought up the same point. (paraphrase) “We need be able to look at our life when everything we own and have is gone and see if we still have anything good to offer to anyone, if not then you really haven’t started working on your purpose. When we are working with our purpose we will always be rewarded because then we are truly giving of ourselves and thus we receive.
    Working hard doesn’t mean you deserve anything if it is working hard on something that isn’t your real purpose.”
    Sounds harsh but true.
    As more people are out of work and stuff, we will all start to really see what is important and why we are here. Some will fall into a hole of depression. others will find their true calling and fly.

  7. There are no happy endings, but also there are no sad endings, there are just transitions. Things happen, life happens…what happened to him, well he got more sad and then he got even more sad and then he stopped talking completely. I would have conversations with him and he wouldn’t answer. I mean literally we lived in the house together for three months and he never ever spoke to me. I know this sounds odd, but I would rather have some one beat me than to completely ignore me.

    He would just walk around the house like a ghost. He then disappeared for a month. He left all of his stuff. I thought he was dead. I called his parents, I called the cops, but you know an adult male who used to have job and doesn’t have one now, well the cops just look at you in this, “wow you’re a dumbass” kind of a way..

    I worried for a while. He came back. I very calmly asked him where he’d been. It was a foreign country, I’m not shitting you. He had left the country, anyways I was calm. I never ever broke, well I don’t break like in this screaming, emotional type way when I’m really upset.

    I was highly upset. I thought he was cruel, mean and evil, after I had been so supportive and acted so happy and learned to cook his favorite food, I mean it was hard for me too!! But when someone has lost their mind you can’t get all bent out of shape, but that’s how I felt. I hated him. How dare he leave and then come back? The coming back part was the meanest to me.

    From there the story gets twenty times worse (oh yeah here’s a head up on my stories they are all much, much worse, I have to tell the Disney version or you will all think I’m insane) and I don’t come out looking very good, so I’ll stop…lol.. but that’s what happened.

    Is that an unhappy ending, I don’t know. If we had stayed together and had two kids and a house in Silver Lake would that have been a happy ending? I could be a PTA mom right now, with a dog, and a Prius. Would that have made me happy? I don’t think so, but of course I don’t know.

    If he could do what he did to me when things got hard and we still had a roof over I head and food, if we had children what would he have done?

    I always thought a little bit about him that he didn’t know what a hard time was. This was hard, but I had seen harder. Hard times is both of you out of a job and living in a cardboard box.

    I think the universe provides you with opportunities. Sometimes those opportunities look bad or sad or not positive, but you know you never know what is truly “bad” or truly “good” until time has past.

    You know oddly I was always giving him shit about materialism and how it was evil and bad and how he was working with this bad energy. I still feel guilty that I was actually happy that he lost his job, maybe that was evil , but I felt that it was a soul sucking, horrible job that added nothing of value to the world. I was happy until I saw what it did to him.

  8. Hey Browne, thanks for sharing, you put a lot of passion into that story , and that’s a good thing.
    Life I think is all about lessons, and if we are listening and learning.
    Man I feel for you and your Man in this story, the shit we are brought up with, what we are told is important, what we think constitutes a successful life, what our purpose and relationships are said to be based on.

    When you get old like me and you suffer the slings and arrows of a typical life experience, you are supposed to be full of understanding and wise bullshit that you can pass on. That’s all fiction, a person has to experience life and all it’s tragedies in the first person to be able to appreciate it’s twists and turns, nobody can teach you that.
    I only hope that you gained strength and some wisdom from your experience and that it enabled you to have empathy and consideration for others who are maybe living that same scenario.

  9. I have always had empathy for people. If I’ve been through something I’m so for trying to help people through that or prevent that thing from happening to them.

    I think in life you have challenges and to me the way that you beat that challenge is to not become that bitter angry person that feels that because you went through something tough that everyone should go through something tough. You know that person that things didn’t quite work out right for them and then seem to get some kind of sick pleasure off of other people’s misfortunes. If you have become that person, you have lost. You learned nothing. You wasted your life.

    The opposites attract thing is bullshit. I learned that. That opposite thing might be fun for a month, but as time goes on it’s going to cause real problems. You think a person like you would get boring, no a person not like you is going to get real boring, because eventually the sex isn’t going to be enough and you are going to want to leave the house and if you like entirely different stuff, well you are doomed. A person like you is going to add to the things you already like doing.

    When he bought that SUV I should have just been out of there, but no we both thought we could shake each other out of the quirks of our very different values.

    Oh the other thing I learned is that the computer and internet world was badly in need of a union, because they would do this thing where everyone was a consultant, so that meant that everyone was freelance, and if you’re a consultant you are not an employee and that means you get no unemployment…that’s what really screwed alot of people, because technically they weren’t employees so they weren’t fired, so…

    Browne

  10. reading stories like this gives me hope that all this crap I’m going through now won’t be in vain. I mean I have already gone through A LOT of crap, but then again it’s nothing compared to what other people have lived through. Yet it’s in the after math of shit happening that I find comfort because I made it out ok, stronger and wiser. Thanks for sharing this B, it helped put somethings in perspective and clear my head.

  11. Browne, economic crisis are undoubtedly home wreckers. Thank you for sharing your story. I was working at a union grocery store about a decade ago, and we were just starting to get a lot of people pretty much dejected from the tech industry. The one thing I don’t miss about that job is having to order a guy with a business degree to get a price check. They were the nicest people, too. Totally humbled. They knew the deal. So, I tried to give the same respect in return. It was a sad situation, and, that was 10 years ago! I can only imagine what it’s like now. Which leads me to my next point, your husband getting that job at Ralphs wouldn’t have done him any good because they’ve just about destroyed the grocers union. We’re heading into ugly times. I mean, there was a time where if the corporate world became too shark infested, you could fall back on a decent living wage jot at a place like a grocery store, or county, state, city job, etc. That safety valve is being yanked away too.

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