my worth

I never talk about it but it’s always on my mind. I miss working. A lot.

I was always a guy whose identity, and unfortunately sense of self-worth were tied into my job. Not only that I have a respectable job, but also fulfilling and gratifying. I took this notion way too far, I was never able to leave my work at the door when I left. When work was good, I was happy and it spilled over into my home life. When it wasn’t, it affected my entire ability to function. I had heard the term “work to live, not live to work” but it just didn’t apply to me. I was a workaholic in that it permeated every aspect of my life, often with major ramifications.

I rode the roller coaster for years. It seemed to have started when I met my wife to be. I was working at a restaurant. I was merely a laborer making a meager living but I suppose I was happy. Shifting between dishwasher and part-time line cook in training I was recovering from a major motorcycle accident, trying not to think about having recently dropped out of college and making just enough money to drink myself to the point that I was unable and unwilling to think about my problems. Occasionally I reflected on my life just enough to recall my favorite line from Animal House:

But I only reflected on it long enough to get a little chuckle and then I resumed my ways. It wasn’t until I began dating my future wife that I realized, or was told that I could and should do better. It wasn’t until I got Testicular Cancer that I took my vocational career more seriously and as I was recovering from the surgery I filled out some applications. I landed a job at Enterprise Rent A Car. It would require that I work 7 days a week, 2 at the restaurant to keep my health insurance but I did it. The job sucked but they promised that any employer will jump at the name of Enterprise on a resume.

They were right. I landed a job at a Salvage Auto Auction. Everyone in my training class was from Enterprise. This job led me to the wholesale auction industry and it was there that I would stay for twenty years. Sales, Sales Mgmt., customer relations, budgets, administration, team-building and logistics appeared on my resume. By the time I met a guy at a cocktail party looking for everything on my resume I was ready for a amazing position for a change because everything to that point had sucked. My previous jobs had been good enough to keep me balanced at home and I liked them just enoughto keep my self-esteem balanced. But I wanted and deserved better.

The new job would prove to be the one that actually made me feel like an all-around success. I was good at it. Better than my new boss ever suspected I could be. My owner referred to me in front of his high-powered and very successful buddies as “the best in the industry”. I was an appraiser, a master at being a liaison between the higher-ups and my customer base. I solved problems. I saved money. I was busy…

my desk any given day…

I found solutions and implemented systems and just often enough to satisfy the soul…I actually helped someone occasionally. My work life and home life were in perfect balance (except for the fact that my wife was never happy and my marriage was going to hell).

I began to spend more time at work. It was my happy place. I was surrounded by people that made me happy and away from the yelling and the constant demands from wifey that I make more money. Perhaps one of my favorite things in my office was my shrine to my upbringing, the top shelves of my enormous bookcase that held my tribute to the amazing family members that kept me going, with a special nod to my father and grandfather.

The Opus doll, well that’s a no-brainer. Bloom County was always a favorite. The Charlie Brown and Looney Tunes mug, well that’s my childhood in a nutshell. The baseball, my son gave me the game ball after he lined his first double over an 11 year old’s head in Little League. The model cars never failed to make me smile as I am a shameless car lover. The model trucks were a makeshift shrine to my father. The license plate was from 1929 and was once on my grandfather’s first car.

While work was mostly good for me, I often found myself staring at one or more of those objects during the course of the day. They made me happy and provided a little slice of home when I couldn’t be there and a reminder of who I was and where I came from in moments of weakness.

When I lost my job due to illness, packing those items was the most difficult thing for me. I loved my shrine.

Those items now sit in cold storage along with my career and my self-worth. I no longer have my career to give me an identity. My value to society seems somehow less. I no longer make the same difference in people’s lives. Nobody, including my children, seem to need me anymore. Most of the advice I give my children seems unsolicited as they are older and finding their own way. Of course they come to me sometimes but I’m used to being a constant resource at work and home.

I need to find another way to evaluate what exactly on earth I am meant to do before I die of pure, abject boredom.

27 thoughts on “my worth”

  1. I’m sure you’re kids think you have a lot of worth in life. Your friends too. One thing I have come to discover is that work is simply something defines what you do, not who you are. Most folks at work, assuming you worked at a big place, wouldn’t know or care jack if you suddenly disappeared

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Damn, Billy. Why the hell do we lose everything when we get sick? It just sucks!!! I’m sorry you lost your career. I love your shrine. It sucks your marriage went to hell. I’m glad you have your children. You were obviously At the top of your game. What a climb. ~k.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I can relate. But we each have our own losses to deal with. Identity is important. When your identity collapses, and everything we work for is lost, it’s a very deep, painful, personal experience. Numb becomes our only friend for a long time. I am feeling better! Thank you for asking. The hubby and I are RVing full time now. This has been an experience like no other. Tough at first, but exciting. My pain levels are now coming in waves only… the constant severe pain is less frequent. God, I hope this continues to be a good choice. Your shrine made me think of old license plates I used to have. I wish I would’ve kept a few to hang in the RV. Have a nice weekend, Billy.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. well, well, well….I just wrote my own similar post…we are not alone (blindzanygirl) and I don’t have answers either…just more questions. You’re a smart guy, what made your ‘work’ your happy place? challenge, people, money, independence, intellectual stimulation, service??? Can you simulate that in any way now – from home or outside the house part-time? *I don’t know why I’m advising you here…I’m stuck also* YOU, my friend, have a LOT to offer so there has to be a way that you can get your HAPPY on even in your current circumstances. Can you use your writing skills and work history in some new way? Since I am not sure exactly what you did (nor would I even if you explained it to me), I keep thinking there has to be a way to use your skills even now. Think outside the box…create a job for yourself. Meanwhile hang in there….times are tough for many of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Of the two of us you’re the one who’s gainfully employed.
      Thanks for the thoughtful response… If I had to say one thing, besides being needed by my customers I most miss the service. Which I still do when I can. Maybe I’m better off than I think

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So service to others is your happy place. You have your ‘brotherhood’ service and kitchen. I’m assuming that you need a flexible schedule (for your appointments) and cannot ? tolerate a demanding schedule/physically taxing schedule so…where else can you be of service that allows the aforementioned needs?? What about a service for ‘shut ins’…food delivery, grocery delivery, dog walking or assisting people (who don’t or can’t drive) to get to appointments? Library or a local ‘newspaper’ or free paper that will allow you to have a column – an about town kind of thing? You’re a ‘salesman’ & a writer & “problem solver” & a social guy; I’ll bet you can come up with something.
        I am sorry if I’m being naive or intrusive 😉 I’m just doing some brainstorming.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “My work life and home life were in perfect balance (except for the fact that my wife was never happy and my marriage was going to hell).” I’m sorry, I had to laugh at this. Whether you realize it or not, you do make a difference. I think it’s your nature to make a difference. The stories you tell show how you reach out and interact with people (as you do here) and that means a lot to people, even if they don’t say so. Making the world a little better place is a pretty cool accomplishment. Work is overrated.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When a person treads a path that others can follow, isn’t that a good thing? What you’ve done in helping those around you, providing support and a shoulder, talking honestly and without fear about your journey (and theirs), is more than most people could do. And I think you’re good at it – it’s what you do: reach people, and allow them to reach back.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Billy I can relate to this so well. I too have been questioning my own worth just lately because I am virtually bedbound and nothing will change in the future for the better regarding that. Quite often I think about what my life is worth now and I honestly have no answers to give to you because I can’t find them for myself. All I can say is that I relate and can share those feelings with you and I don’t know whether that makes you feel less alone or not but I can say that I care and I can say that there probably are things you can still do and you seem a good guy to me with lots of talent. I hope that you can start to feel some value in your life soon.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I stepped into the shower, only to realize that I have no water. (water main break)….grrrr So If you call soon I will be dirty. (speaking tongue in cheek)…. hmmm maybe you should wait a bit….
        Seriously though hope to hear from you soon

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I felt like that about my analyst job………. all figure work and I was damn good at it, redundancy knocked me for 12, let alone 6 and I was out of work for 3 months before getting the job as a credit controller in a book company. I was good at that too
    I couldn’t work in an office now though. My hands and back won’t let me sit at a desk all day. I don’t miss the job or stresses that came with it and apart from the health issues we’re doing OK, but I’ve explored card making, and I love my blog, walking the dog and meetin up with people every day.
    Did you not say you were thinking of being a volunteer or something at the hospital? Maybe that’s the new path to tread. We all have worth Billy, and from what I’ve read about you, you have it in spades.

    Liked by 1 person

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