Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer
Dear Style & Substance:
I have a female friend, never married with no children. She had a great government job for over 20 years and gave it up when she fell in love with an internet boyfriend, visited a few times and then moved out of state to be with him. She then realized that she did not know him fully until she lived with him, and found out that he was not the man for her. She returned to NY to no job and living with a friend to pick up the pieces of her shambled life. She cannot return to the government job, and her current job pays very little. Now she's depressed about her life and cannot move forward. What would you recommend for her?
Our first recommendation would be to acknowledge the mistake, take some time to debrief and maybe realize some overlooked warning signs. The next step is to forgive herself; with forgiveness comes the realization that she made a mistake and also learned from that mistake. During this time of reflection encourage your friend to think about the reasons she “gave up everything” to follow love, at least what she thought was love. Perhaps the mistake was not acknowledging a void in her life that caused her to react impulsively.
Whatever she is doing now, tell her to do it well and work towards something better. Whatever skills and success she had before her move, she most likely still has! She has been so busy beating herself up that she may have forgotten all of the good things she has to offer. Support for your friend is shown when you don't dwell on the past but engage in healthy activities and communication together. Debrief and reflect, then help your friend take action. Action steps such as creating a resume, attending classes on career skills, and meeting with a financial planner are all positive ways in which your friend can regain control of her life.
Getting a better job takes persistence and the ability to not take rejection too personally. Encourage her to get her resume in shape, practice her response to why she left that good job (using some humor will certainly humor the employer) and then just “throwing lots of darts at the job board”. If she can make this a routine in her life, she will get so she is not so emotionally wrapped up in each application, test or cover letter. Applying for a variety of jobs is an opportunity for reinvention and exploring areas of interest she may have pushed aside for the security of a steady and predictable job working for the government.
Getting involved in some new community activities is also a chance to restart her life. Attending new and interesting events with friends may just open her up to finding love and new friendships that she can let develop more slowly.
Mr. Rogers said, “that which is most painful, is most universal”, which in our interpretation means that we all have success and failures - we can all understand loss and gain. Owning the mistake or loss is half the battle, moving on is the other half.
Being a good friend means supporting and encouraging someone when they are down. Keep up the good work on your end as well!
A S K
Style & Substance
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