The start up was hard for everyone. There wasn’t a person connected to us that it didn’t touch. My parents really stepped up in a way I didn’t expect. They’ve always loved me/us, but they aren’t always supportive and reliable. However, like with the choices to homeschool and freelance, they were all in on our move to the start up. They offered to help me with anything around the house I needed and were willing to take some of the burden of parenting as I was doing most of it on my own.
This was a huge help. I never really needed their help around the house, but I absolutely needed a haven for the girls to get out of the crazy. While I know the girls felt the disappointment of having exhausted, unavailable parents, the time they spent with their grandparents created invaluable memories and helped give them more normalcy during a really chaotic time.
And we were so exhausted and unavailable. T was working so hard to meet his commitment to the start up and to keep the bills paid with contract work. There simply were not enough hours in the day. By the time all the have to’s were covered, we were just exhausted. Add to that the constant struggle to live on tightly stretched means and there was just nothing left.
There I found myself: exhausted, unavailable husband, never enough time, never enough money, solely responsible for the welfare and education of two kids. I just couldn’t keep the fear and doubts at bay. And the fear and doubts just sucked the hope right out of me.
The communication problems I mentioned before really started to compound. I reached a spot where I felt like I was standing in the middle of a hurricane constantly ducking debris. I began to cringe every time I heard the phrase “oh, didn’t I tell you” and eventually I started to cry.
It seemed that every single day something changed, broke, was yelled about, or demanded. I heard about all of the problems and frustrations and very little positive feedback or excitement over fixed problems. The CEO demanded and insisted. In the end, we weren’t the partners I was assured we would be, but were instead employees expected to perform without question. The CEO was young and single and couldn’t understand why we weren’t as singularly focused as he was.
I was always willing to be flexible. The start up wasn’t my choice, but if we were doing it I was going to do all I could to be supportive and make it a success. I knew it was going to be hard. All I asked was for the occasional break. If you work a chunk of days in a row, then take a few days off to give us a break. But that never happened. Finish one urgent thing and the next thing became urgent. All that mattered was doing and accomplishing. And we did it.
T worked hard, but he also got “things”. He went on trips, met with interesting people, learned new technology, grew his career, and enjoyed having a family available to him when he had time. I began to feel like staff. He spent time with me when he didn’t have anything else he had to do. I washed the laundry, cleaned the house, and managed the girls, the oldest of whom was sailing into the “delightful” age of 12. As a person, I began to feel irrelevant. He told me how important I was and how glad he was that I was there, but all I could see was how happy he was to not have to do the menial tasks of life.
The fear grew. I was giving up things left and right while watching him gain. The only career I seemed to be developing was how to be a better housekeeper and I was making parenting and schooling decisions on my own all the while hoping that I wasn’t destroying my children’s lives. And when I tried to talk to Topher, it just got worse.
Bad communication, particularly about work, took it’s toll. I had reached a spot where it was hard to trust T anymore. There were so many things that I thought I was told would be one way and ended up different. Often he would say he’d be right there and I’d have to go track him down because he didn’t realize how much time had lapsed. I was so scared and so frustrated. The exhaustion and the emotion lead to a lot of yelling and our kids were there. It’s a small house, where would they go. But no matter what we worked to find a solution. To end in a happy place. We might be fighting, but we were fighting FOR our marriage, not to hurt each other.
Much like it began, the start up ended. The CEO decided it was time for a technology shift and we no longer fit. Six months earlier than we had planned and completely out of the blue we learned we would be out of a job at the end of the month. And the CEO thought we would be thrilled. Now we could go back to freelancing like we wanted.
He was right. That is what we wanted. We had already been making plans for what we would do when it was done. In six months. Not in three weeks. It takes more time than that to set up contracts and have some money saved for the gap. We did use contracts to help stay afloat, but in the end we decided to look into agency work. This ending was so great for T. He was free. It really was all that we had wanted.
Sadly, I couldn’t see it that way. I was already so overwhelmed with fear and hopelessness, that all I could see was us being thrown away. Past experiences had created some deep insecurities regarding rejection and this brought them all to the surface. I had to fight hard to avoid hate and I lapsed into a time of despair and mourning and self-doubt. At the moment, it seemed that no matter how hard we worked and how logical our choices were, we were simply meant to fail. Others could make the same choices and thrive, but not us. We just weren’t good enough. Add to that my deepest concern, what had we done to our children?