Before I graduated as a social worker I already had a job at a rehabilitation centre. It was a temporary job that I got through mediation of the administration of my university. I had the right experience and done the right direction within my study, together with a few others, for working within a medical setting. I got the job and had still 1 or 2 months to go before the exams. I felt really proud at myself for being able to sustain myself. The job started out as part-time, but within a month it was full-time and in the end I was a substitute for 2 colleagues. In essence I was proud of fitting into the system and my self validation was depending on how I had been able to get this job. I measured myself to my classmates who had been doing other directions and hadn’t yet succeeded within the system. When interviewed for the job I lied about having a car, because I knew for sure that I wouldn’t get the job without having a car. At that time my little brother had an old car, so I borrowed his car till I bought my own first car. I took a loan from my parents in order to buy the car. Financial enslavement started, we made an agreement how much I had to pay them each month. The salary I earned wasn’t fully free to spend, I had to pay my living with it and my car. At that time I had a boyfriend in the USA and my phone bills were sky high, in those days skype wasn’t invented yet and phone companies parasitized on their clients. The salary that I was left with to spend on luxury wasn’t that much anymore. When my grandmother died and left me €4000,- I paid off my debt and was financially free from my parents again. It felt like freedom in my mind.
When I met my husband P. he was unemployed and I still worked for the rehabilitation centre so I was the breadwinner. I payed our first vacation together and all the costs we both had, it didn’t bother me so much that it was my money we payed everything with, it was more the pictures in my head of a male breadwinner that gave friction. The moment P. started working again I felt relieved without really knowing why. I didn’t had this pressure anymore of bringing in enough money and being the one on which all financially was depending. For a while we worked both till I got pregnant and during my pregnancy my boss decided not to prolonge my temporary job. A lot of confusion at that time, I had to go to court and the lawyer of my formal boss started to intimidate me in the lobby of the courthouse. The deal was that they made it possible for me to get a settlement, but they filled in the forms wrongly and then we had to go to court. The judge was on my side and they still had to pay me the settlement and later that became welfare. A lot of emotions and fears to be sure I got money to sustain myself. At that point my future wasn’t bright, because who wants to hire a pregnant employee, nobody. I applied for jobs, but with zero results. After my daughter was born I again had to apply for a job otherwise my welfare was withdrawn. It took me about a year and within that year I studied on-line interior design. My welfare agency didn’t want to pay for this study, because it didn’t relate to my profession as a social worker. I changed profession because there weren’t much jobs in the social sector, but wasn’t rewarded for changing and studying again so that I would fit into the system again.
I started to work in a furnishings business to see how I related to real clients after having studied on-line and if they liked my advises. I was planning to start my own studio and by taking this job I had access to clients and products. After a while I wasn’t really motivated to do this job, it did provide me clients, but I never knew what hours they had planned for me. I worked on the hours the permanent employees didn’t want to work, they changed hours without confirming and in the meanwhile I had to find my babysitter available for those strange hours. The payment was low and could differ from month to month. I made an agreement with a friend, she had her child 2 days after I had my daughter A., we would babysit for each other and in that way the hours would score out together. Every time when she had to bring her child over for me to babysit she cancelled a hour before so in the end I had to pay her and our win win situation was totally illusionary. She bought a lot of stuff from my money and at a certain moment she was only in it for the extra money. My daughter, as little as she was made clear that this friend was mean to her. Another friend of the same friends club offered to take over the babysitting job, at that time I was pregnant with my second child and she already had her second almost a year before me. She didn’t want money for the job, but I insisted, I was afraid that without payment she wouldn’t be loyal to me and I had to count on her. During that time I started my own studio and stopped working for the furnishing business. I stopped because after taking off all the costs necessary to make it possible for me to go to my work, I was left with only €90,- a month. So I stopped. After about a year my friend and new babysitter was entangled within severe relationship problems and wasn’t capable of functioning with 4 kids screaming in her house. Again my A. told me that my son J. was sitting all afternoon in his bouncer and nobody looked at him, when he had to sleep the friend carried the bouncer upstairs and left him there sitting and sleeping at the same time. One day she called me and said: “I can’t do it anymore”, which meant that I had to find another babysitter for that week since I had client appointments. I found another lady in my street that watched over already a lot of children and I sticked with her till J. went to school.
In this period my partner P. had a permanent job and a lot of the times I envied him or was even jealous at him. In the morning after breakfast he closed the door of our house behind him and in the evening he came back in. When I had to work I had to arrange a lot of things to make it even possible to start and close that door behind me. The main focus was on P.’s job since he generated a stable income. In a way it was impossible for me to make a big succes out of my business and looking back now I felt as a victim. This made me incapable of really directing myself within this situation. The money that I earned wasn’t superior to or equal to the money P. earned so I felt less due to the amount of money I made.
To be continued…