Dear Emma, WTF?!
I can’t tell you how relieved I was to find your site. I am not single [yet] but I am in the early stages of the process. I’m in an unhealthy marriage and recently discovered that my husband is cheating and likely addicted to drugs. Whatever the case, he’s making money on the side and not contributing to the household. I have to fight with him just to pay the bills.
I feel I have no choice but to make my exit and earlier this year I was about to start the separation process — I called a lawyer and and started looking for a new home.
Then I was laid off from my job as an HR administrator. For the past two years while working in corporate, I launched a part-time coaching business. So far I’ve only had one paid client. Ironically
My parents are both deceased and I don’t live near any of siblings (even if I did none of them are in a position to help me). Even if I do secure employment, I’m worried that I won’t have the flexibility for my children. I feel stuck. Working for myself will allow me flexibility to my two daughters (16 and 10). Working for someone else means a commute, less time with them and the guilt that my business failed.
So, here’s my question: how in the world did you pull this off? I’ve never lived off of self-employment income. It is really realistic to get out of this God-forsaken marriage and support my children with a business that’s still in start up mode? I understand that your reply is does not guarantee a solution for me. However, I have to be honest, I’m desperate. Any advice, expertise, and referrals will be appreciated.
— Beat down in Bethesda
Man does your story break my heart. You are stuck. You feel like you have no options and no options means no control. No control means fear — even panic. Here you did everything I advise women to do — build a lucrative career, develop a side gig, having a savings account and a vocation you are passionate about. And still the rug was pulled out from under you and your are stuck in a miserable situation. The universe is messed up.
The first thing I offer you is hope. It is impossible that you will stay in this situation forever. That just will not happen. You are too smart, driven and decent. Life just doesn’t work like that. So let’s start there: It will get better. Trust me on that.
So how will that happen. First of, making a living and building your own business are not mutually exclusive. You absolutely can have both the life and career you love. Here is what I want you to do.
1. Stop looking for jobs online. No one gets work that way. Instead, get out of the house. You told me privately that you live in a major metropolitan area. There are jobs there. There are also networking events, conferences, professional organizations and any number of other places people in your industry find work. Go to them.
2. Seek professional advice – if you’re not landing a job, there is a reason. Maybe your resume needs a revamp or your skillset could stand updating. If you’re working with a recruiter (which you should be) ask them to give you a professional makeover. Seek out a mentor through your networking and professional organizations. The bottom line: Humble yourself and ask for help.
3. Humble yourself. Call all your contacts – no matter how old. As for referrals. Tell them that you are laid off and need a job. This happens — you are not the only one in the universe of employment!
4. Keep building your coaching business. Partner with people who have successful coaching businesses. Ask them for help. If you feel comfortable, share your personal story. Be authentic and you will connect with people — people who will help you, and you in turn will help when you are in that position. Surround yourself with greatness.
5. Call a lawyer. Your ex is very unstable. Aside from the dire state of your marriage, he is a financial liability to your family. What if he gets into an accident while high and is sued? Racks up credit card bills or buys an Escalade? If you stay married to him you are liable for his debts. Do not put yourself or your kids at that risk. GET OUT.
6. While at the lawyer’s: Ask what money you are entitled to. There is no guarantee that you will get that money, but it may be available in at least the short-term. Do you have any assets? Equity in your home that could be liquidated if you sell? Consider doing tapping into those funds — maybe not the first advice financial professionals suggest, but if that is your only option, take it. You can always make more money later (don’t tell any financial experts I said that).
7. Don’t be that mom. I get that you want to spend lots of time with your kids. I also get that you are an awesome mom and are thinking of them first in this crisis. You worry how they will fare when you leave — or worse, if you stay. But they are now a teen and tween. They don’t need you there after school each and every day.
8. Go live an awesome life. Once you take one step in this process, the second will be easier. The universe will swell up around you and conspire for your success. You will find help from people you never knew. And then you will go on and be amazing. You will look back at this time and wonder what took you so long, why you spent so much energy on fear and paralysis. And you will be grateful for the challenge that propelled you to greatness.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.
The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, Oprah.com and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.
Her popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.
Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.