This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Epic Fail

Hubby and I own a consulting service company. We were in the process of buying it when the kids' adoptive placement finally came through (the purchase was supposed to have happened almost a year before, but for one reason or another it happened 6 months after the kids arrived).

When we first decided to purchase the company it was so Hubby could use his faily newly acquired MBA and finally break out of engineering (he preferred working for start-up companies, but they would take one look at his resume, then offer to hire him as an engineer and promise him management jobs as soon as the company took off, but every time that happened they would realize they couldn't afford to lose his amazing engineering skills and renege.

At the time I had been working at a private preschool and hating every minute of it. I was 2nd in command, managing 60 staff, we had 275+ children, and the politics and crazy hours were horrid. The owner was a micromanager who literally thought everyone there, but me, was stupid. After awhile I even managed to change her opinion of me, by trying to protect the staff from her unbusinesslike behavior. My manager was constantly in ill health, and the woman who was my peer (except I had several years seniority on her) had figured out how to manipulate our manager like a puppet and used that power to vindictively eradicate any perceived competition... except me. She couldn't quite get rid of me. Until I shot myself in the foot with the owner. (The witchy peer quickly disposed of my manager after I left and took over completely. The company is limping along now - I like to think it's because they lost my sales, marketing, and management skills, and are now being run by a petty dictator, but it could just be the economy).

The hours and stress were killing me, and while I was making a big salary, for the industry, I was only making about a 1/3 of what Hubby brought in. I happily quit my job when Hubby acknowledged that the kids were going to need a full-time parent (Bear was getting kicked out of school all the time, Kitty was practically feral, and Bob had heart problems that required more and more trips to the ER - surgery a year later fixed the problem completely). We couldn't afford it for long, but the kids needed me.

I had started taking mood stabilizers because the overwhelming stress triggered my bipolar disorder. We had to experiment with many meds before finding some with fewer side effects. It was a difficult time.

When the purchase of the company was final, we realized that my skills in sales, marketing and design better fit the company and we couldn't afford for both of us to not draw a salary while we got the company back off the ground. So I became president instead of Hubby. Within a month, Hubby couldn't take his current engineering job any more though and quit too. Suddenly our company was supporting us both in addition to the staff. It wasn't designed to do that.

In addition, I felt undermined at the company because Hubby made all the financial decisions and really took over pretty much everything. I had wanted to work 3/4 time like the previous owner so I could focus on the children's demanding needs, but with Hubby there and only one car that wasn't an option - so I found myself escaping by spending more and more time on the internet. All I really did at work was decorate the office, do the HR paperwork (for less than 10 employees), create some of the marketing materials, and talk to people who came in (which were few as most of our work was done electronically). Hubby pushed and pushed for me to do cold calling sales, but I hated it. I'm good face to face (I'm an extrovert with a natural sales ability), but cold calling is just not the same.

Then the recession hit. Some of our biggest clients were in industries that were hit hardest. Most of them went under or had major layoffs. We waited way too long to do layoffs, we had clients renege on invoices for tens of thousands of dollars, we allowed the bank to foreclose on the company's property, laid off most of the staff and stubbornly hung on.

The already considerable debt from purchasing the company in the first place was mounting, we owe/d back salaries to most of the employees, but we were so far in the hole that it seemed the only way to get back out was to turn the company around. Going bankrupt wouldn't help much because we owed a lot of personal debt too (we borrowed a LOT from friends and family). We kept throwing more money in. Finally after over 2 years, Hubby gave up and took a contract engineering job to pay our bills. Which he detests. A lot.

I stayed at the company, but continued to do very little. We hired a sales guy for a ridiculously low salary with the promise of big commissions, but he had major health issues and financial issues that distracted him and that, in addition to the economy, means he brought in pretty much no business at all. Hubby still thinks I should have saved us the sales guy's tiny salary and done his job myself. Hubby even did it for awhile even though he's an introvert and wasn't good at it.

We were down to 3 clients and when one of them fired us last week (most likely because the engineer we laid off last week was incredibly slow and their project should have been done months ago), Hubby and I finally acknowledged that it was past time to close the doors. We still had the prospect of one big company that sounded like they were going to use our services and we had heard they had some big money to send our way, but we wouldn't hear anything till after the first of June. If they weren't everything we needed we would have to close our doors.

So yesterday our salesguy at work gave notice. He needs a job that pays well and on time or he loses his house. I don't blame him at all.

Based on the discussion with Hubby a few days before about closing the company doors mid June (assuming the big company jobs didn't come through), I naturally assumed that this was just one more nail in the coffin and talked to Hubby about me getting a part-time job. "Big mistake. Big. Huge!"

This morning we said some things that hurt each other's feelings (We don't fight. It's not our nature.). Apparently Hubby is not ready to give up on the company and is frustrated with me for not stepping up to the plate and fighting for it. *blink blink* I thought this was a given after the conversation we'd had over the weekend?!

Hubby wants to know what I do want to do since I obviously don't care about the company. I told him I thought I could get a part-time job to meet the bills that Hubby's check didn't cover and then Grandma and I would be free to deal with the kids all Summer. Then in the Fall I could look at getting a full-time job, doing... I don't know what. Turns out Hubby thinks I don't have enough confidence in myself (I should be going after jobs that pay $100K+ a year), and something is wrong with me because I never like my job(s) and am always stressed out.

I keep telling him most of my experience is in Social Work and childcare neither of which pay much. I don't feel that I have the experience needed to take a director position even in a non-profit, or in HR or something similar, because my experience doesn't directly translate. I have general knowledge in a lot of things, but the only areas I have lots of specific skills in don't pay well (if at all). Plus, the kids need me. My to-do list requires a lot of schedule flexibility and knowledge of the kids' needs. This offended Hubby. He feels a lot of what I do he could do.

Hubby wants to quit his job and go back to work at our company and save it. The problem is he makes over $100K and we still can't meet our bills. If we switch roles I'd have to take a job making over $100K a year too. Hubby is mad at me for not thinking I could/should do it.

I'm an overweight, overwhelmed, overscheduled bipolar mother of 4, with a weird work history. I've spent the last 2 years mostly staring at my computer screen blogging, reading blogs and list-serves and occasionally dabbling at our company. I don't sleep, just discovered I've been taking less than my full dose of meds, again, and right now am close to tears most of the time. I rarely smile and laugh anymore. I used to have hobbies like sewing (was a professional seamstress) and interior decorating (never got paid for it, but have decorated/painted many people's homes), and my dogs haven't been allowed in the house in years (mostly due to fleas, but neglect plays a big part in this). Now almost all I do is sit on this couch. I eat here, have my computer in my lap, parent from here, and watch trash TV from here. The only thing I don't do on this couch is attend meetings, do the shopping and therapy. My house is disgusting and smells.

OK. Time to shut up and get to work on my resume. Sharon, call me!


GB's Mom said...

Stress is the enemy of people with Bipolar! I am so sorry you are going through a rough patch. Prayers and hugs.

Anonymous said...

Ouch. I am so sorry about this. I hope everything works out!!

Jay_Lee said...

I'm sorry to hear that you are going through this right now honey. I'm somewhere in the same stress neighborhood, just a different street. I'm a great believer in every thing working out the way it's supposed to.

I'll be thinking of you.

Tara - SanitySrchr said...

I'm right there with ya! But I'll be praying for you. It's always hard when hubby's don't understand what being bi-polar is and feels like.

Miz Kizzle said...

Wow. You're under a lot of stress. You should talk to a doc about your meds. It's foolish to keep throwing good money after bad. Your family needs your husband's steady paycheck. You should take the summer and relax as best you can, don't worry about the house being messy. I think there are lots of people who would love to hire you as a professional decorator/seamstress. You could carve a niche between the super expensive decorators whose ideas don't really fit an active family's lifestyle (think bare rooms with one Steuben vase on a mirrored pillar) and the cheesy low-rent franchises who come to your house in a minivan full of ugly fabric samples. An extrovert with good ideas could do very well.

Marty Walden said...

I know you will pick yourself up and figure out what works for you and your family. The stress we all go through with our kids is so tough and we need to cut ourselves some slack. Work on changing one little thing at a time. I watched the Biggest Loser finale tonight and that show just inspires me. Not just about weight loss but about the strength they find deep down inside. You can do it! Praying for you.

Mom 4 Kids said...


Anonymous said...

Double your meds. Visit your doctor. Believe your hubby. You really are fantastic and you can do anything.

Now, if you could please hold a mirror up to my face and make me tell myself the same things... 'cause I could use a dose of that same advice.

Megan said...

I am so sorry that your are going through this huge stressor on top of caring for four kids and one being bipolar!! We could use the money if I worked full time but like you I feel like my bipolar dd needs me so muc, and who would take her to all of these appointments??? We are horribly in debt too, from a five month job loss and paying for private school for years. Your hubby needs to keep his job for now, and you should just look for something you are passionate about you can do from home. Yes, that might be hard to find. I am constantly doing the same brain gymnastics. Take care of yourself. I pray for likemindedness between you and your husband and peace!

FosterAbba said...

I was in a very similar spot with my first business. My situation slightly different, in that I was a sole proprietor and I didn't have a husband who could help me with bills. On the upside, I didn't have children at the time, either.

The best thing I can say to you is that you should take a really cold, hard look at the business and see if it is really worth saving. I got into a lot of financial trouble with mine because I kept thinking I could save the company "if only..."

Turns out that phrase was based on emotion, not on fact. Owning your own business is a wonderful dream, but sometimes the reality doesn't work out. You have to be ruthless and look at things with a critical, business eye.

That is very, very, very hard to do.

Ultimately, I ended up too deep in debt and I had to file bankruptcy. My only regret, looking back, is that I didn't give up sooner. I could have saved myself several years of abject poverty and the embarrassment of getting my groceries at the food pantry.

Anyway, just know that I've been where you are now and I know how difficult it can be. Hang in there, but you and your husband should be prepared to make some tough decisions if that new client doesn't come in June.

Anonymous said...

Mary, tell your husband that I, who worked reasonably high in the software industry and who thinks highly of her own skills & abilities, but have been out for 10 years, I know I could only pull down that kind of salary if I worked at least 60 hour weeks and left the childcare to husband and nannies. He is being *VERY* un-realistic. ( = wishful = his way of asking to be rescued?)

I like what FosterAbba says. Maybe you could agree to a "close the business?" "mediation". An outside source that can help separate emotions from numbers & projections?? Or, if he's going to keep at it no matter what, maybe he needs to re-write his business plan and create, on paper, a solid plan for how to keep going.

As for your house, you care about the smell. Smells get to primitive brain WAY fast. Search, hunt, plan, strategize, research, get allies -- you *can* conquer it.

marythemom said...

Thanks guys!!

Miz Kizzle - do you think people are hiring decorators right now? I think I'd have a hard time getting business. Especially since I hate cold calling. Plus, Hubby is right that I shouldn't take a step back in jobs or I might end up back where I started. I wish I could take the Summer off, but our mortgage payments start again in June and Hubby's salary won't cover it.

Purple - thanks friend! Now listen up! YOU TAKE CARE OF MY FRIEND or ELSE!!!!! Because I said so! We're talking about trying to drop our useless health insurance so I'm going to try to visit my doctor tomorrow.

Megan - Actually both Kitty AND Bear have bipolar disorder so there are 3 of us who have it.

Thanks again guys!