The Set Up

Anyone looking at my life back in early 2014 must have thought it was golden.  I was thirty-eight years old and things seemed to be going great on all fronts.  I was a vice president at the third largest listed company in Jamaica; I had been in a committed, long-term relationship for ten years with a man who people really liked and who I loved deeply; I owned a beautiful house on a hill in a great neighbourhood, where I lived with aforementioned man; and I owned a luxury car.  I was the picture of happiness.

It was all a lie.

I hated my job.  The relationship was slowly killing the real me.  I was uncomfortable in the house.  And the car was stressing me out.  My life was the definition of unhappy and unfulfilled.

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Picture of me from the company’s annual report for 2013, when life seemed “great”

Let’s start with the job.  By the time 2014 rolled around, I had been in that job going on five years.  Starting about two years before that, every few weeks I would stand at my upper floor office window overlooking Kingston’s business district, staring unseeingly at the beautiful view of the hills or the sea and wondering what it was all for.  I would stand there and wonder what all my hard work was in aid of.  The purpose for which I got out of bed every day was money – the company’s bottom line and my salary and benefits.  That bothered me because money no longer seemed like good enough motivation anymore.  I felt that I should leave my job but I had no idea where to go or what to do.  Leave and go to another corporation where I’d work for their bottom line and my salary and benefits?  The problem wasn’t the company, not really; the problem was inside me.  Besides that, there was the usual corporate politics and drama, of which I was truly sick and tired.  My work held no meaning or joy for me as it once had; it had served its usefulness but I didn’t have a clue what I should do about changing that.  I couldn’t just resign, stay home and relax for a while because I had responsibilities.  I had a mortgage and car payments to cover, groceries to buy, utilities to pay, a future to provide for.  I couldn’t just leave my job; I had a life to finance.

My partner knew of my unhappiness and encouraged me to fuel my enthusiasm by engaging in activities outside of work that would motivate me to hang on to the job.  But to be honest, the only thing I wanted to do was travel to distant places and that seemed like an impossible dream.  Also, our travel consisted of us going to the same tired places over and over, like most Jamaicans do; the type of travel I dreamed of doing seemed far out of my reach.  So I bit my tongue, sucked it up and hunkered down to make the best of the situation.

Not only was I working at my normal job all day, but every evening I would go home and spend another few hours helping my partner with his company – he was self-employed and I was his unpaid employee, doing all I could to support the dream he had for his business.  To be perfectly honest, I hated that job, too, but that seemed immaterial at the time and I tried to focus instead on doing my best to play the role I had been assigned.  Underneath, I was exhausted from working two jobs and trying to ensure that all bases were covered.

At home, things weren’t great.  I won’t say much about that side of things because it would require me to tell a story that isn’t one hundred percent mine to tell, and that’s something I have refrained from doing except to a very few trusted confidantes.  If it was only my business to share, I would bare all to you guys, you know I would.  But it isn’t, so I won’t.  Suffice it to say that I carried a huge burden there as well. In addition, I had been trying to conceive for three years and I had undergone failed attempt after failed attempt, including IVF treatments.  Why try to bring a child into a broken relationship, you ask?  Because I was stupid.  Also, my biological clock was telling me that I was running out of time, and my partner thought it would be good for me to have a child so that I could learn how to truly love (yes, he actually said that but even worse, I actually accepted it).

I was constantly crying out to God to help me in the relationship because I was at a loss as to what to do and ending things didn’t seem like a viable option.  I had been in that relationship for so long and had put every single fibre of my being into it and I didn’t want to call a halt to it for a couple of reasons.  First, I think I had gotten to the point of believing that I didn’t deserve better and was lucky to have this man.  Yes, people, that’s how low my self-esteem fell.  Second, I was still into people pleasing and image and I didn’t want to seem like I was stupid or a bad person for leaving a relationship that many others would probably love to have.  I can now honestly admit that it was a relationship that was unhealthy for me and that I should never have been in to begin with.  But back then all I could do was cry out to God to make me a better woman so that the relationship would be better.

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My former living room

The large, beautifully decorated (for the most part) house on the hill was also a burden.  In the wee hours of the morning about two years before, burglars had broken in.  I watched two men walk into the house through the French doors in my kitchen, while I stood there in my nightie, the only adult in the house at the time.  The terror I felt in the few minutes before the alarm company and my partner arrived stayed with me for years.  For the first few months after that violation, I slept in my glasses so that I could see everything around me as soon as I opened my eyes because I felt the need to always be alert.  I never slept peacefully in that house again, and the refuge that I used to love became a prison that I no longer trusted.

The car was a Mercedes Benz.  I bought it because I allowed myself to be convinced that it was the right profile of car that a vice president of a large and influential company should be driving.  That was rubbish, of course.  The car was beautiful and it was fast but it turned into a nightmare for me; fast and beautiful as it was, it was ridiculously expensive to maintain!  Every little thing (like the constantly cracking front rims) cost an arm and a leg to fix and that burden always fell on me.  I had no joy in owning or driving it.

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The car and I in our last few minutes together

That was the morass that was my life.  I didn’t stop and think too deeply about it all because I felt that I was just doing what I had to do in order to make a good life for myself and my partner.  But in the back of my mind were remnants of childhood memories where I felt like I was special to God and that He had something exceptional for me to do.  It was faint but it was there.  I kept crying out to Him, reading my Bible and seeking Him.  But it didn’t seem as if He was hearing me and it didn’t seem as if He would answer.

I was wrong.  God was about to show up in the most unexpected ways.

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