February 03, 2004

The First Wives Club and Company X Doubts

There are some things in life that make me feel soooooo tired.

Tax forms, for example.
Dealing with my grandmother.

And something else that makes me tired is knowing that I have a fight coming up, even when I didn't instigate it. If I was the first to throw down and I know a battle is coming, then you betcha' I am prepared to toe the line. But sometimes you don't see a fight coming, and when it hits you you can feel your brain thump somewhere around your pelvis.

I have come up to battle with the First Wives' Club.

Those wives being the ones married to Dear Mate and Mr. Y (and Best Friend's wife is not real keen on me either, if the truth is known).

This is all happening while simultaneously busting up in my household, trying to secure a visa for Dream Job, and trying to figure out what the next step in life is. Timing, you know. It's everything.

I have always had very tenuous relationships with Dear Mate's and Best Friend's wives. Sometimes we have been friends. Most of the time, they have hated me. They think I want to steal their husbands. The truth is, I don't-in fact I have helped things a few times when the going gets rough. Dear Mate's wife would call, crying, and tell me things that seared the inside of my brain and altered how I viewed this man who is such a good friend. Best Friend's wife telling me, at a spa, that I can have her husband. Ummm...thanks. But I have one, and believe me-one is almost more than enough.

I talked to Mr. Y on Friday afternoon. He has talked to his family and he wanted me to know what is being said about me. His (ex?) wife has told his entire family (brothers and mother, who in turn informed his sisters-in-law and father) about me. In short:

-That I tried to kill myself (yup, that much is true).
-I am a crazy American (yup, true too.)
-I got fired from Company X for abusing my mobile phone (not true. I was cut due to Swedish union laws. And the first person who says that to my face is, in my opinion, "throwing down").
-That I am 28. (wrong. I am 29, and about 3 inches away from being 30.)
-That I am a looker (I couldn't possibly comment, I think that's objective.)
And I am sure various other horrors about my mental condition which are not favorable.

And so now, if he and I even have a future somewhere down the line, I cannot hope to meet his family and not have them think I am completely fucknuts from before they ever meet me, this younger woman home-wrecker.

It burns me up to think that people may think I lost my job due to a mobile phone bill. Company X doesn't even work like that-I would have been "spoken to" if they'd had a problem with it. I was let go due to length of service, and I know that. My manager assured me a number of times, and believe me-the last round they were honest if they let you go due to incompetence. But it doesn't help when my secret fears about myself are paraded around. I do worry that I suck, that I am useless, that the masses of time and soul I gave Company X are worthless.

And it all boils down to saving me with a visa. I know people here have commented in the comments and via email that I am not my job, that it doesn't define me. But that's just it-the job does define me. That's part of my problem. Right now I am a weeble-wobble that does fall down, I need the job to be part of my base, to keep me anchored and prevent the crazy spinning. I don't have anything else to define me as who I am-the biggest reason I am in therapy is that my job is my everything. Without it, I am adrift.

It all boils down to finding out this week about the work visa. It's the difference between backing away from the edge of the cliff, and going right over the edge.

Last night Partner Unit turned to me and said: Helen, I just wanted you to know that people at Company X still can't believe you were let go. Eva came up to me yesterday and told me that you were the only person who could ever explain a Company X roadmap in a way that made sense. And when people hear that you got the shitty severance package, they are shocked. You had a senior position in the company, and a great image. They are amazed you lasted so long through so many redundanics, since you hadn't been there 5 years. It's proof you do a good job.

If only I could believe it, too. A visa may help with that.

I talked to my father this morning who told me it's time to throw in the towel. That my life isn't rosy and nice (Umm. Thanks, Dad. I kinda' knew that.) That I am too far from home, and that it's time to come back to the U.S. That I haven't a hope in hell of getting a visa.

Hard to believe in yourself when key figures in your family don't, either.

I try to think about Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" during right now. The first four lines, especially.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

But you know what? It doesn't always work. I find out this week if I get my visa. My relationship at home is ending. One way or another, I will most likely be leaving Sweden soon. I get to enter a situation in which I am already the bad guy, in which I am already evil and fucked-up. To tell you the truth, maybe I am getting old. Once upon a time I would have relished a challenge like this, the opportunity to prove someone wrong. Now? Well, now it just makes me tired.

And it makes me wonder if I have it in me to defend myself anymore.


PS-more sensual dreams about Kiefer Sutherland last night. It's like I am entering fucking puberty again or something.

PPS-Luuka has made it to Simon! Yeah!

Posted by Everydaystranger at February 3, 2004 08:09 AM | TrackBack

Jim-thanks for making me the first stop of the day:)

Johnny and Frances-thanks for the kind words. I do feel a bit overwhelmed, actually.

And Larry? 20 years ago I was in 4th grade :)

Posted by: Helen at February 4, 2004 11:47 AM

-That I tried to kill myself (yup, that much is true).
As always I hold judgement on that.. I have though about it enough... There are fates worse then death.. life can be one of them(though you seem to be bouncing back well)

-I am a crazy American (yup, true too.)
All Americans are by definition so.. kind of moot

-I got fired from Company X for abusing my mobile phone (not true. I was cut due to Swedish union laws. And the first person who says that to my face is, in my opinion, "throwing down").
Use a baseball bat saves wear and tear on your knuckles... for me it was "You do not fit the company's image of itself for the future." I worked 3d shift any no one besides the 2nd shift guy and the first shift guy ever SAW me :)

-That I am 28. (wrong. I am 29, and about 3 inches away from being 30.)
Your still young :)

-That I am a looker (I couldn't possibly comment, I think that's objective.)
Dunno... do you tend to keep your eyes open? >G ======
And I am sure various other horrors about my mental condition which are not favorable.

People who don't have little dark horrors and the odd skeleton have never really lived. Its part of being human.


PS dang..where you were 20 years ago (doh.. texas in highschool :)

PPS A Movie you migh either Really like or totally despise.. is 'Pump up the Volume' Be warned there is a sucide in the movie if you think that would be a problem, though the conditions are (I don't think) anything like what you went through.


Posted by: Larry Conley at February 4, 2004 10:40 AM

I love that poem. Even if it doesn't work out in Europe, you'll find a way. Sink or swim, you seem like a swimmer.

Posted by: emily at February 4, 2004 01:17 AM

My first blog read of the day and it's 4:00 PM. What's come over me? Damn cable out at home and meetings all day at work. But you know I couldn't call the day complete without a visit here. :)

Didn't read the comments yet so this was all probably said by people less tardy than myself:

Don't forget that he's your dad. He wants you back home and whether he is doing it intentionally or not, that desire is coloring his advice to you.

When all the people around you that know you are telling you good stuff about you, no matter how much you disagree the chances are that they are right and you aren't.

I'm more interested in what Mr.Y responded to those folks that are trash talking. Is he sticking up for you? That's important, dear. Your relationship with his family is his burden at the moment.

Keep that lovely chin up. We're still eating M&Ms for you! :-)

Posted by: Jim at February 4, 2004 12:10 AM

I think I'm going to hope that you dad wants you to come home because he misses you and wants to have you closer and not because he thinks your "fucking up" overseas.

That would suck.

And yeah, its easy to say that your work doesn't define who you are. But without that work, you'd have no food, nowhere to go all day long and it would be harder to introduce yourself, "Hi, I'm Johnny, I, um, hang out."

But the job isn't who you are, its what you do. A distinction that's easy to forget about.

Posted by: Johnny Huh at February 3, 2004 10:49 PM

I wish friendship could be easy, as it should be. But we have separate lives. I hate it but it's true. If I could live without fear of doing something wrong (in someone else's eyes) I'd be a much happier person.

Oh, that would be nice :)

Posted by: Rob at February 3, 2004 08:57 PM

Helen, be gentle with yourself. Dealing with either a job change or relationship breakup is difficult; you're doing both at once. (As I am.) My motherly/sisterly advice to myself and to you: It's natural that your feelings are in turmoil, just keep breathing deeply, keep healthy (less drink, more exercise), and deal with things as they happen without anticipating future worries too much. Neither of us will succeed in following this good advice 100%, we should be gentle with ourselves when we fail too!

Take it cautiously with Mr. Y. I've been there and done that--an eight-year relationship that started with me as the "other woman." Sad to say, we never were able to build a healthy strong relationship, and a big part of the reason was the weak foundation we were trying to build on.

I was worried to read in one post that you fear Partner Unit's anger, and in another you quite proudly said that you and Mr. Y have a dominant-submissive relationship ... DING DING DING DING ... that's the sound of the alarm bells going off. Be very careful.

Posted by: frances at February 3, 2004 08:52 PM

Thanks for the kind words. I understand and enjoyed your comments as well (end of hugfest). I do understand the coed workplace scenario and agree we should be friendly towards and friends with the opposite sex.

But I still contend our BEST friends should be the same sex, because there will never be any temptation to have sex no matter how close we get intellectually. One can't make that claim of the opposite sex. How many romances start up in the work place?

Posted by: Solomon at February 3, 2004 08:51 PM

Hi Solomon and folks,

First I like all of your post, Solomon, including these. I do understand what you are saying and have understood your other post as coming from sincerity with experience and you are a good advisor.

I believe it is possible to forsake all others as sexual partners and have friendships. Our open societies have us working coed and I like to see men and women mingle their friendships and for the sake of their work and spouses(sexual partners/lovers) have the friendship on the same axis as they would if the other person is of their same sex. I agree there are people who don't think this way and are looking for affairs. But I've also noticed that the people seeking affairs do not take the time to form a friendship in the work place.

In one scenario, what often happens when a married woman enters a new work environment, she will pick up on all the signals of the males and (if she has a good relationship with her husband) will be describing these interactions to him when she gets home from work. Over time she will pick the ones who aren't approaching her sexually as friends and her husband will know them from her eyes(this can be a lot of fun) and will appreciate that they are friends of his wife who make the work environment safe and equal for her. As time goes on the husband knows that her male friends also are silently her protectors and friends she can rely on not to be sexual and he should be able to feel easier about not being there for her and happy that she has good friends. This does happen albeit I understand your caution. Of course if a woman comes into the work place as a she-devil...

One manager of a business said to me that the hardest group to manage is an all-female secretary pool; can get down right nasty and very counter productive for the company.( Ladies don't flame me too harshly).

Got to go help some people in the snow. I do appreciate the dialog and look forward to some more. Didn't have time to edit this...

Posted by: Roger at February 3, 2004 08:26 PM

Kat and Marie-thanks, darlins. If you think of a good substitute Marie, please do let me know!

Amynah and Kaetchen-I actually think you hit the nail on the head (at least I hope so!) I think my Dad just wants me back in the continental U.S. Even if I am the same distance on a plane, perhaps I just *feel* closer if I am within the borders.

And Kaetchen-I loved what you said, babe. Thanks.

Posted by: Helen at February 3, 2004 08:18 PM

Helen love, you can't do anything about what any of the Wives think about you. At this point, it's too late for that group. Besides, they too are at fragile points in their lives, watching their relationships bust. No one's at their best during those times - as you well know. If they call, listening without expressing an opinion is usually the easiest. It leaves you room to feel what you need to without being engaged in the situation. And lord knows you have enough on your own plate at the moment.

It sounds as if you've made the decision to try and be with Mr. Y (assuming the London move comes off). May I recommend that you also spend some time sans companion, to get your feet back under you and decide what you want for YOU, independent of any partner? Itmight be a very effective way to appreciate yourself - and grieve what you've lost - before getting into another relationship.

Your father wants you home. Why is this not surprising? From a shorter distance you're both easier to console and easier to advise; easier to influence and easier to control. Parents are just people. They're as smart and stupid as the rest of us. My guess is that they want you happy, but probably have an *entirely different* idea of what happy would mean and how you should get there. Maybe a good response would be, "Thank you, Dad, I miss you too, but I'm not ready to come back yet. I'm still working on this life, thank you." It's hard to stop being a parents after being one for so very long (even if you thought they sucked at parenting).

In other words, feel free to listen to advice from anyone you want (including dumbass me, but filtering out the stuff that isn't right for YOU is the most important bit.

[steps off soapbox]. Thanks, love. Even when I'm not commenting, I'm always wishing you happiness!

Posted by: Kaetchen at February 3, 2004 07:37 PM

Roger - I have 2 guys that I've shared my deepest, darkest secrets with and have never had it thrown in my face. It took years to build the friendship to that level, but it's worth the time.

Everyone - people get jealous when their spouse spends time alone with someone of the opposite sex...especially if they're attractive. You can say it shouldn't be that way, but that's how it is.

All my good/best friends are men, so ol' Solomon doesn't have any "first husbands" club to worry about or contend with :)

Plus I faintly remember something in my marital vows about "...blah blah blah forsaking all other women blah blah blah..." Don't tell Mrs. Solomon I put it that way :)

Posted by: Solomon at February 3, 2004 07:05 PM


Okay, first of all. About Mr. Y's wife...I really wouldn't worry too much about it. The fact is, you don't know quite how his family views her or anything that comes out of her mouth. They might think you're this wonderful person because she actually talked negatively about you!

Something you said about your dad struck me. I'm not sure if your dad is the same, but with my parents, alot of the time if they tell me something like that, it's because it's their secret desire. I think your father may miss you and therefore is telling you there's no way you'll get a visa and come home. Not so much because he believes you won't get it. But because really truly doesn't want you to get it. It is something to consider. Parents have a funny way of loving sometimes.

Posted by: Amynah at February 3, 2004 07:03 PM

ha, just last night i had a dream about some of the girlfriends of ex's of mine who don't like me much. sometimes it's hard to have mostly guy friends! recently i've made a few more gal pals just because of all the trouble.

hang in there girly. everything will come together beautifully.

Posted by: kat at February 3, 2004 07:03 PM

Ok, first things first. I hope Mr Y set things straight with his family. If he did, then you should relax about meeting his family. If he did not, then you should reconsider the friendship.

About your job being your anchor--yes, we all need at least one stable aspect in our lives--either a healthy relationship or stable job. I wish that I could help you out, but really don't know how. But if I think of something, I will share.

Now about Keifer Sutherland and your dreams, that
is just all about turning 30's. Just hold on :-)

Posted by: Marie at February 3, 2004 06:59 PM

Yup. Sarah. She's a chick I could definitely get on with. Loan me 60K, darlin'?

And Paul-you're cute :)

Posted by: Helen at February 3, 2004 06:20 PM

You know, there are several units in my condo complex that are up for sale. A 2/2 above me is a mere 60k. And it's huge and gorgeous and well taken care of. (I swear, the owner is gay but he says he isn't--totally fun dude.)


Posted by: Sarah at February 3, 2004 06:18 PM

Mrs. Y would do well in politics and my ex could be her running mate. Muckrakers unite!

It's easy to let people get to you, so don't. I know that sounds like stupid advice but that's kept me alive and relatively sane for quite a while now. There's nothing worse than the world knowing your darkest secrets but once the cat's out of the bag there's no putting it back. All you can do is be true to yourself and those you love. Anyone who with the good fortune to spend any amount of time around you will quickly realize what a special person you are. If they don't get it then they're the fucknuts. No doubt about it.

I would never advise you to throw in the towel.
Drop it, maybe. Shutting up.

Posted by: Paul at February 3, 2004 06:13 PM

Amber and Roger nailed it-sorry, Solomon, but all of my close friends are men, without exception. I love them dearly, and there isn't one of them that I am tempted to sleep with-our relationships just don't work that way (Mr. Y excluded here-but then again, he is an ex anyway).

I don't seem to form comfortable friendships with women-I feel like is always a competition, and all the little grievances are always held against me forever. Men get angry and then get over it, whereas the women I have known get angry and then get grudges.

Gudy-thanks, honey :)

Posted by: Helen at February 3, 2004 05:28 PM

I understand the First Wives Club exactly. I've always been the "gal-pal" for the majority of my friends, who are almost all men. Anytime that their relationships went foul, lo and behold, their S.O.'s are calling me, or talking about me, saying that there's got to be something going on between us because he's coming to me to cry on my shoulder or something. It's very frustrating, but I've just come to the conclusion that you just can't please everyone. Screw them, in other words. I'm nice to them, and sometimes we even end up as good friends. Usually that only happens when they realize that my motto in dealing with guys is "Friends are friends, pals are pals, and buddies are people I'll sleep with".

Posted by: amber at February 3, 2004 05:22 PM

I understand Solomon, but as a male there are very few males I would ever confide in. Likewise I guess for woman-to-woman confidence. So far all males want to compete with me. What is your experience? Any time I have ever told a male something private, at some time later, WHAM! they use it to elevate themselves. Some very surprising instances; especially other males who are married and hadn't chosen wisely. People always use personal info to their advantage. One of the most revealing things is when later they offer unsolicited advice. Or you find out what they really think of you when they suggest a woman you should pursue; the match is always worse than their mistake!

Having numerous just-friends of the opposite sex can be very good and wholesome because the friendship can complement rather than compete. I believe Helen's male friends need to be strong in their own relationships with their spouses and not have it spill over and become Helen's problem. And the strength I'm talking about is not macho but have the ability to give by word and deed their spouses love that says their sexual focus is them and is on a different axis than their friendship with Helen(excluding Mr. Y; he does not qualify as a friend).

None of this is Helen's problem but rather BF, DM, Mr. Y do not love their wives. (Ok guys, say it isn't so)

Posted by: Roger at February 3, 2004 05:07 PM

So Simon has once again saved me from typing it all up myself. ;-)

Other than that, please listen to Partner Unit, stop listening to the mean-spirited people bad-mouthing you, and stop depending on your visum - important as it is for your future - for your... self-assurance? self-esteem? self-confidence? One of those, anyway. Going through five rounds of lay-offs is an amazing feat, and Dane is probably right about why things happened the way they did.

As to Mr. Y's family and their image of you, I'd say it is his and, should it come to a face-to-face meeting with them, your responsibility to correct the image his wife is painting of you. Staying as cool as possible about it now, especially as Mr. Y's wife is understandably suspicious about your role in their lives, is probably your best bet for the time being, sucky as that may be for now.

Posted by: Gudy at February 3, 2004 04:36 PM

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. If you want to avoid the First Wives club in the future, make your best friends and dear mates women. No, I'm not suggesting a sex change for existing BF & DM. :)

But as you start life #6 intentionally choose confidants who are the same gender. It will eliminate soooooooo much stress.

Posted by: Solomon at February 3, 2004 04:25 PM

Roger-you have a deal. Can my title be "Queen and Empress"?

I think that's an impressive title. And it sure beats some of the fluffy, meaningless titles I have heard of in my life.

-The Littlest Crab

Posted by: Helen at February 3, 2004 04:12 PM

Observe Maryland crabs in a bucket. There is always that one bright side shuffler that decides that he/she is not going to have their reason for existing be defined as someones delectable dinner. Rather wants to get back to swimming free and maybe chasing or being chased by another free spirited she/he crab. All the other crabs seem resigned and waiting their fate while they pretend to support our bright crab. Meanwhile our bright crab is working and straining to get a leg up and hooked over the lip of the bucket and when he/she manages to get to the teeter point all of the other crabs suddenly take note, reach up, grab a straining leg and effortlessly haul our hero back down inside the bucket(If they all were free spirited and working together, nobody could keep 'em in an open bucket for five minutes).

Watch out for those who have given up in life and don't give them opportunity to haul you back from your dreams.

Your ability with words alone, besides your dedication to work, are highly employable.

PS-When I get my company going in the next few years, I'll send you an invitation for an interview:-)

Posted by: Roger at February 3, 2004 04:08 PM

Miguel, you are absolutely right-No, I definitely don't want to make their lives harder. I don't have any plans to fight with any wives, I just feel like I can't even have the opportunity to meet with Mr. Y's family in the future and not already be a "very bad person".

Posted by: Helen at February 3, 2004 02:55 PM

helen, about the first wifes... wont they always be there? Might as well try to compromise a bit. If you really like BF, DM and MrY, and I think you do, Iīm sure you donīt want to make their lives any harder. And you sound like your getting to a point were fighting is not an exciting thing. Far more important things in life. All the best, Miguel.

Posted by: msd at February 3, 2004 02:51 PM

Helen, first off, lets get one thing perfectly clear...

Sucking is an endearing quality =)

Another thing, I think you maybe under estimating just what it means when a big company like that holds on to you for as long as possible. As horible as this may sound, the reality is that any manager will have a list of folks who work for them that they wish didn't, another list of folks who they will donate body parts to keep, and the rest who have their strengths, but they can get by without. The fact that you made it through 5 rounds means plain and simple, your boss ran out of parts and the Union seniority rules caught up with him/her.

The people who walk around taking personal pot-shots at your abilities are undoubtedly the ones whose only claim to their position is the fact they have managed to occupy it for so long. That is something I could never find pride in.

Best news of the last two days? You are thinking of a blonde guy in a sensual way... WoooHooo! there is hope =)


Posted by: Dane at February 3, 2004 12:49 PM

I have to agree with Simon. He said it way better than I would have.

And as for this:
"It's like I am entering fucking puberty again or something."

You're not alone!

Posted by: Sue at February 3, 2004 10:58 AM

Thanks, Simon :)

Luuka has good taste.

Posted by: Helen at February 3, 2004 10:39 AM

Let me be the half-full guy for a second: the people at the new company are convinced you're the one for the job; PU is telling you that you left Company X with a great reputation; your blog is proof of your global fan-base; Keifer Sutherland is Janet Jackson-ing you every night; you're either way leaving one of the coldest places on Earth; you've good taste in poetry; Mr Y, Dear Mate and Best Friend obviously all still like and value you. Mr Y maybe even more. The wives are none of your concern. If they're as unsecure as to see you as the evil influence, that's their problem, not yours. If things fall through some new opportunity will open up instead.

Forget about cliff faces and visas - the cards will play out however they're meant to be played. You just have to play with the hand you have...ummm, gee, that actually didn't come out right.

Posted by: Simon at February 3, 2004 10:36 AM
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