Soon after Michael and I were married, we felt lost about our future. We questioned what we were going to study in college. We weren’t sure what we wanted to pursue in our careers. We felt confused about how to find our path. We changed our majors too many times.
When we finally settled into our degrees, the grad program Michael chose was unfulfilling, but he felt like he needed to stick it out. On top of that, he was not able to find work during the height of the Recession. I had been working, but when we were ready to start our family, I wanted to stay home and raise our babies. Michael settled for a job he was lucky to get, but he was underemployed.
During this time, we were living in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C. -- one of the most expensive regions of the nation. Our expenses felt astronomical. Michaels’ inability to find satisfying work, our mounting debts, and our growing family started to wear on our psyche.
Michael’s self-worth was deteriorating. I was feeling all the physiological ups and downs of pregnancy and postpartum as we added four children to our mayhem. Michael and I felt unprepared for all the pressures of adulthood! We regretted our choices. We felt ashamed of our ignorance and poor decisions.
We found ourselves lashing out in anger as the pressure built up from day to day. We isolated ourselves and were sure that people were judging us. They wouldn’t understand what we were going through anyway. We were overcome with disappointment, shame, anger, depression, and anxiety. We felt ashamed of our behavior and beliefs about our situation. Other people seemed so happy (or appeared so on social media). People our age had successful careers, were going on glamorous vacations, and buying luxurious homes. We felt lost.
We wanted to do what was right, but every time we tried to make a change, nothing would happen. Michael applied to dozens and dozens of positions that he was over and under qualified for to no avail. We consoled ourselves with food and entertainment. We would take trips to visit our families whenever we could. We shut ourselves in from prying questions and judgements.