I am 48 years old and a recovered drug addict clean 17+ yrs.
I studied hard and became a certified addiction counselor.
Part of that included an 2 yr internship with a 40.00wk stipend.
Once legally certified, I ran a recovery residence for homeless and
indigent addicts for five years making little money
85 lives were permanently changed as a result.
Program State funding was cut; residence closed.
I filed bankruptcy as a result and lost my home
I studied and began a new career in IT.
I worked for major non-profit 2 years.
I rebuilt their internal worldwide communications network.
Then got laid off because free, student, foreign, and intern
workers would do my job for nothing, class credit or board.
Non profits employees don’t get unemployment or other benefits.
I lost another home.
My wife finally left with everything else.
I became caretaker for a father who died of cancer.
I started a new media business hiring students, and creatives
in a market where the schools that tricked them into their education
knew they would never be able to find a job doing what the learned and loved.
After three years the market couldn’t support the business and it began failing.
I got sick with a lung infection that almost killed me .
I spent 8 weeks in the hospital, fortunately on a grant.
Meanwhile all my audio, video, and computer equipment was repossessed.
Bankrupt again, and still very ill, I needed over a year to recover.
Finally I went to a retail management job to survive.
Slept on my mother’s floor to help her and save money.
I was hospitalized for depression. (Imagine that…)
then was terminated by company.
I’m still dodging the hospital collectors for the last $300.00 owed,
yet they got paid over $25,000 from Ins.
I lived and worked in recovery residence for addicts in trade for
room and board for over a year.
I began another career in client and account management for
a startup company streaming video online, worked for two years managing
high visibility clients, making 40k a year and massive profits for the company.
I was diagnosed with a life threatening illness.
I continued work during treatment while fighting incredible and
sometimes debilitating side effects.
A few weeks before I completed treatment. I was laid off.
Insurance was canceled and access to Doctors stopped.
Treatment never completed. No followup medically done.
3 Months later Company sold to foreign company.
Seems clear that although my performance evaluations and client
approval ratings were through the roof, the cost factor of my illness
was a part of the issue.
It looked more profitable for buyout.
Execs who got rich off my sweat, then laid me off
Foreign company laid off 60% of local employees
who built company.
I got unemployment for 99 weeks while actively seeking work.
I have applied to over 350 jobs. I have had three interviews.
It has been almost three years now.
I have been rejected for age , being under skilled, and over skilled,
out of work too long, or too old. Mostly I have been ignored.
I have worked in online freelance work.
Those jobs have dried up because of the influx of available workers.
I am an author with two self published books and limited distribution.
Five sales each. But at least I hung on to a dream and got the words out there.
I am a photographer, and sell art online.
But most seem to be worried about having the money to eat.
They are not much concerned about art.
I get that, but I try anything to survive.
I am always days away from eviction.
Even if I manage to stay, electricity and internet will be gone soon.
Then I will have no livelihood at all because I am in active relapse
with my illness and in chronic pain.
I can not get medical help, and am too ill to actually go out and work now.
I will likely die of organ failure or complications within the next
five years without medical intervention.
In a country that offered a dream that never came true.
Some days I wonder why I worked so hard to become a good American,
and to do the next right thing based on a lie.
I wonder some days why I bothered to get clean.
I could have killed my own dreams much easier 20 years ago.
I have busted my ass, maintained hope and faith in the dream.
And tried to treat people the way I want to be treated.
I wasn’t banking on this.
I AM the 99 %
I have worked too hard for this to be the end.
I am pissed . I’m tired of being screwed over and of attempts
to make ME feel bad about it to alleviate YOUR guilt or greed,or to prop
up your overinflated sense of self-importance.
I do not care about being in the 1%.
Being out of fight or flight and survival mode would be really nice though.
I’ve earned it.
I AM THE 99 %
A huge shout-out to Jack for letting us share his piece this week. This speaks to and for so many of us. You do have a voice. It does matter.
This post originally appeared at The Emotional Orphan
You can check out Jack’s Art & Photography on RedBubble
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For those of you compelled to purchase a copy of “The Lexicon of the Orphanage”, Jack has also agreed to provide a pdf copy of his chap book “A Part of All Sums” at no additional cost. And we’re going to make it really easy for you to claim your copy! Simply email your purchase receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your free copy! And don’t forget to let him know you saw the special in The River!