When Dream Crash and Burn, and Life Tosses You Lemons

*photo credit: Photo by Tirza van Dijk on Unsplash

At Winterfell, in the godswood, Jamie asked, “How do you know there will be an afterward?” Bran Stark answers, “Humans tend to find hope in the darkness of circumstance.”

— Game Of ThronesFor as long as I can remember, I have wanted to live someplace tropical. Instead, I lived in small-town Texas, seven hours from the nearest ocean my entire life.

So, after twenty-two years of working as a 911 Emergency Dispatcher for Police/Fire/EMT, I decided to semi-retire early moving from Texas to Florida.

I did not recognize it then, but I was leaving behind a robust support system built around friendships via work, school, church, shared adventures, and hardships. People I had known most of my life. Time, distance, and life’s unexpected curveballs would bring substantial changes.

The things we take for granted until they are gone.

None of us, including me, realize how important support systems are to our healthy survival and peace of mind, until they are gone. Beginning in 2014, I experienced a series of events that included a job loss, my long-time roommate moving away, and declining physical mobility.

My interaction with the rest of the world ground to a halt.

Zoom was not a big thing yet and contact online was extremely limited, for social interactions with other humans, something we need day to day to stay mentally healthy.

As time passed, and my efforts to change my circumstance failed, it did a number on my self-esteem.

We all need psychological and emotional support, but I had gradually lost the majority of mine.

Isolation is a beast, especially when it is not your choice, but a result of circumstance and change. It happens to all of us at some point and in diverse ways over time.

We need to know there is someone in our corner cheering us on, fighting with us, or for us. It is natural to seek understanding and companionship.

When you have a healthy social and emotional support system it reinforces your confidence, self-worth, and it boosts a healthy ego.

A solid support system can make all the difference in achieving goals or surviving and recovering from a crisis in healthy, positive ways.

It also helps you deal with life’s stressors, for example, being able to call a friend to jump your car off, instead of the police or a tow truck. A crisis is still stressful, but your ability to cope is enhanced.

Our stress decreases through play, hobbies, socializing, or just talking it out with someone. We need each other to survive, to learn, and to challenge each other to grow and thrive. Knowing others are there, you don’t feel so hopeless.

I felt very alone and isolated by 2016 and didn’t even know if I wanted to go on. To make matters worse, by 2017, I was homebound.

The first step out is a mindset change.

I realized the support system I had always taken for granted was gone. Time and distance had allowed it to fade away. You lose touch, you move on, and you all walk different life paths.

It was also no one’s fault that the added support system in my new life was “too new” to stand up to the test. We were all still mostly just Facebook friends when not at work.

I am an only child, my parents, aunts, and uncles have all passed on. I have no children, so for me, human connection is essential — necessary.

Everyone wants to feel valued, understood, and for others to just get them. I am no different. I need that.

Without my support system, I felt lost in foreign lands, alone, isolated. My attempts to improve my situation failed to create permanent change toward recovery.

The loss of my job did a number on my ego, and my self-esteem. My confidence lagged when my efforts did not produce the results I needed or expected.

Depression rode my shoulders, beating at me, blinding me to opportunity and possibilities. I no longer recognized myself. Getting what needed doing, done, was harder.

Mobility issues added new obstacles to my job search and my mental health. As the quality of my life failed, while my income and physicality dwindled, so did my sense of self-worth.

I thrive when I have people around who invest in me, need me, believe in me, and appreciate me. I am happiest when I can invest in others, help them, and help them find themselves.

I realized I was not truly alone, but I knew something needed to change. My first step was taking the Master Key Mastermind course.

The course taught positive applications of manifestation, training the subconscious to guide you in positive directions with less effort and resistance to change, up against the oxymoron of conflicted human will.

There is science behind the methods and a logical progression of change if you are open to it.

Looking for work in a pandemic — Covid-19.

My world was already isolated when COVID-19 struck. Jobs were already difficult to find, and more of us were looking, especially for online work— 40 million in the U.S. alone. Everyone watched as the pandemic swept across the globe, tanking the economy, and robbing lives.

Living and dying became equally scary for the world. For goodness sake, whoever thought that toilet paper would become a commodity? Or that people would stand in long lines to acquire it in 2020.

  • You must wear your mask and follow the tape walking six feet apart in public places.
  • Practice safe social distancing.
  • We are living in a science fiction movie.

But for Gawd sakes, leave some toilet paper on the shelves for other people, will you — quit hogging it all.

The whole globe retreated to isolation, and yet my own world expanded for the first time in five long years.

For the last three and half years, I have been homebound due to mobility issues and pain. My day-to-day life did not change. The world began to mirror my existence.

I continued as I had been before the pandemic. I still applied regularly for online jobs. A positive is that new opportunities for 100% remote work have emerged, as the world adjusted to living online and surviving.

People discovered and created new ways to stay social and function in a secluded society. They started getting together through Skype, face time on Facebook, and cellphones.

My life is more active because I now interact face to face online with people that until now, were email contacts, online groups, or social media friends. We spend time together in real-time. I am in a sense no longer isolated. They come to visit me in my home — Zoom style. How cool is that?

My social circle is active instead of passive, which is life changing. I was able to find a job that inspired and moved me closer to the dream I had envision long ago. I am finding a sense of happy again. I am regaining self-esteem.

I hope that doesn’t change when the world returns to normal, but I suspect it will never return to the normal of the past. There is some truth to the cliche that sometimes the lemons life throws at you turn into lemonade.

So, hang on. Never give up — the human spirit will rise up if you survive old man time and COVID-19.

Juneta Key is a short story and novel writer-speculative fiction. She founded Storyteller’s Gambit and offers coaching and instruction in story development, short story, world building, series world building, Scapple-mind mapping, and Scrivener. She’ll help you flesh out your stories and get you past any roadblock! You can read her work on Medium. She has self-published five anthologies. She is co-founder of Stormdance Publications — themed anthologies, with four anthologies scheduled to be released in 2020/2021. She is one of seven founders of the Storytime Quarterly Blog Hop, and an admin of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group featured regularly on the IWSG blog.

She is working on a paranormal romance series in her Moon Hollow world series and hoping to publish her first book Ghost Pirate in her space opera series in 2021.

*You can also find on Medium