When You’re Out of Answers

I’ve come to a point in life where I’m truly between a rock and a hard place. My whole life I’ve been able to come up with solutions to some complex problems, but I find myself suddenly stuck with no way out.

I have no one to turn to, no safety net and no one but myself to save me. I’ve tried to prepare myself for any emergency, but this one is stripping me of all my resources and leaving me completely vulnerable.

I’ve asked my tiny family for ideas to remove me from this position, and it has resulted in nothing more than a pat on the back. So now I’ve decided to ask the world, via the internet, for solutions.

Here’s the problem that needs to be fixed:

I am a recently divorced father of a wonderful 4-year-old who has found himself in a city where he doesn’t belong: Louisville, KY. But this is where we landed so that my ex-wife could begin her teaching career, and is where my daughter was born, and will likely have to stay, unfortunately. Away from family, away from where I grew up in South Carolina, and away from my reality.

All savings went to divorce lawyers and staying alive.

I’m 50 years old and have spent much of my time learning to prepare myself for the working world. I’ve held a lot of jobs along the way to make ends meet so that when I entered the workforce I had some experience.

So, I’m educated and experienced. Perfect. Not quite, apparently.

I’ve pulled every string and applied to every company in a 30-mile radius, and remotely, and the response has been chilly. Lots of nibbles thanks to having an MBA. But no curious interest beyond that. It makes a person wonder.

It leaves me with no income yet I still have responsibilities, such as taking good care of my daughter, paying weekly rent to a very gracious landlord, utilities, food, toilet paper and so on. So I systematically relinquish my limited and cherished possessions in exchange for money to survive. But I’m quickly running out of road and I can only see three exits, which is always the good, better, best scenario:

  • Best case: Job falls in my lap from my hundreds of applications. Unlikely.
  • Better case: I find a job that will allow me to get back on my feet and move along. Although I’m willing to do anything, there are areas that I’m trained in (marketing) and I must earn at least enough to pull me out of this pit. Because of circumstances that are now out of my control, I’m fixated in a lease that requires $2000 per month, which I’m paying weekly, so my daughter and I at least have shelter. I’d like to move to another house that’s less expensive but I haven’t the necessary funds to do so. That’s a tight knot.
  • Good case: No job is found, I’m evicted and cannot see my daughter anymore. Homeless wretch, a possible suicide.

So that’s where the puzzle presents itself and I turn to the world for solutions. What says the world?

Michael and Cecelia

Cecelia and her Daddy


Well it’s been a week and I have my answers.

It was interesting to see who responded. This post was a distress signal. An emergency SOS cry for help, for anyone that couldn’t figure that out. When you open yourself to the entire world and plea for some help, there’s no road left and life has become dire.

Who came to help were my longtime friends from boarding school. No one from my family popped up to see what was the matter. No ex-wives who pledged to be by my side through thick and thin and obviously didn’t mean it. No drinking buddies from decades past when such things bound men together. I’m not mentioning them to shame them. That’s their decision and I try not to judge others when I don’t know what they’re thinking.

But the men who came to my rescue didn’t surprise me. And the way they did was no surprise either. When someone’s drowning, giving someone your phone number and telling someone to call you who’s going down for the third time isn’t going to save them. You have to reach out a hand, as hard and exhausting as it may seem because you don’t know what you’re going to be grabbing. It may be an easy lift up, or it may require all your resources and then some. But usually, it’s somewhere in-between those two extremes, of course. And how much it taxes the person reaching out is a measure of how strong they are and how prepared they are to handle such a rescue mission, from staying fit in the ways that matter leading up to the save. For men, it means a display of character. I didn’t expect any women to come to offer real help, because it’s rare they do. That may sound very sexist, but in my 50 years of life, that’s what I’ve experienced. You’re free to change my mind.

The men that answered the call all grew up with the same sense of honor and commitment that I did. It’s no surprise that we all went to the same boarding school, and shared the same life experiences, and learned to become a man the same way. We learned through teamwork, playing sports. We learned through leadership. We learned through having to be independent, away from our families. We grew to learn how to respect each other and how to behave in a healthy society and be there to help when another schoolmate needed it. It was a tight-knit community and always has been. It’s why it will always remain all-boys, all boarding, and relatively small, with 400 boys in 3rd through 6th form(9th-12th grade).

We learned that when times get tough, the tough get going. You don’t sit around and ask questions and talk, you start acting and doing. It’s what separates the men from the boys. I’ve known the guys that responded to my question for around 35 to 40 years+ now. And although none of us live in the same cities or even states, they didn’t think twice about being there when the alarm sounded. It’s truly amazing and demonstrates what a strong bond was formed back when we were boys. Our school’s mission was to transform us into honorable and respectful men of moral purpose. Something to think about.