My Unemployed Life: The Forgotten Woman

My name is Mollee D. Harper. I am a 41-year-old single woman, never married with no children and unemployed now for 836 days and counting.

In my previous life, I was a successful and effective CEO/CFO of a construction company where I increased annual revenues from $600,000 to $1.3 million in one year's time with a 10 percent profit to the bottom line. I covered my salary expense, increased the owner's annual compensation by $70,000 and increased the pay and benefits for all employees. To top that, I met the owner's goal of more time off, giving him the opportunity to take six vacations in the last nine months of my employment, and paid quarterly profit sharing bonuses (based on company performance) to each of our 12 team members. I worked at the pace of a machine and loved every second of it.


A hard-hit industry

The construction industry was one of the first industries to take a hit when the economy crashed. Heartbroken, but determined, I watched and assisted as the well-oiled machine I helped build was disassembled one team member at a time until it was my time to leave. The last I heard, the owner has returned to work – running as a one-man entity and surviving the best he can.

Since losing my job, I have literally applied to thousands of job opportunities, starting first in my current city, then branching out to Florida statewide, then countrywide, and eventually to jobs in Canada, Ireland and Scotland. With each passing month, then years, the reality set in that I have, in fact, been discarded, thrown out, no longer useful or desirable to any team anywhere.

For a woman like me -- single with no children -- my career was my life. This was my venue to make a difference in the world. Being benched for a period of time was one thing, but coming to the realization that my experience and skills are no longer desired in this economic climate is the biggest and most painfully jagged pill I have ever been forced to swallow.


A slow, painful loss

No one could have ever prepared me for the magnitude of loss that accompanies unemployment. What most people don't realize is that today's unemployed are the lepers in society from years gone by. The judgment and apathy you experience from others is indescribable at best. I was once surrounded by hundreds of friends, happy-hour invitations and social outings; now I am completely and unequivocally on my own. Single in the truest sense of the word. Oddly enough, my closest friends left first, within the first six months. And as each month passed, the phone calls of support lessened, the offers to help disappeared and e-mails went unanswered.

Although the isolation, rejection and abandonment by friends and family are so unbearably painful some days that I pray for days at time, I did find a strange new sense of empowerment in my new life. There is comfort in knowing that all of the false pretense, dead weight and lies are gone. While walking a daily tightrope of not knowing whether I might disappear into homelessness or suddenly get my lucky break is exhausting beyond any ability to imagine, there is something powerful about knowing that while you walk that rope alone, you at least walk it in truth with honor.

Before losing my job, my debts were paid on time. My credit score was 785. I was never late on my mortgage or car payments. I was neither rich, nor poor. I lived comfortably, never wanting or needing more. I gave generously to my friends and family, albeit putting little importance on saving. Since losing my job, I've lost my car. My first home, modest and old, is now in foreclosure. I have sold all of my jewelry, some furniture, my surround-sound system, childhood collectible dolls, bicycle and iPod. Golf clubs, extra bedroom set, dining table – anything and everything I have left is now has a price tag, listed in classified ads and being peddled to friends and neighbors for pennies on the dollar. But necessary pennies, needed to cover the most basic expenses of toilet paper, water, refrigeration and electricity so I can continue to breathe and continue to seek employment. The daily fight for survival -- a battle I admit I am losing -- is palpable, yet unnoticeable to others. It's so surreal. The psychological torture is indescribable.


A fruitless quest

A savvy business woman, I spent countless hours writing President Obama, the governor, state senators and congressmen. Unemployment benefits were stopped for all of us who have been unemployed for over two years in June, 2010, and since that time I have had no income whatsoever, with the exception of food stamps. I experienced eight days without electric and water two months ago, something no American ever expects, in this free country that aids so many third-world countries in the same predicament. The government has yet to respond on provisions for "Tier 5" citizens. My e-mails and letters remain unanswered to this day. I suspect they have all given up on us and know within months we too will disappear. Without power, we will lose our voice. One senator did respond, only to advise me that I should find a church to help me. I called every one of them in my home city. I left no stone unturned. But that did no good. The non-profits and charities I reached out to openly discriminate against women like me, because I'm too young, I'm not pregnant, I don't have children, and ironically, because I am unemployed. I have become a despicable beggar.

A wise man once said "you can never give up, for you know not what the tide will bring in." So every day, I continue to create new resumes, apply to new jobs, network with prospects, old friends or colleagues, sell the last of my possessions and find small paying jobs wherever I can. Most importantly, every day I pray. I pray for a light to show me a way out of this darkness. I pray for all of the others who feel exactly like me -- unloved, discarded, forgotten. I pray for this country, for the blind to see. I pray for an awakening for you, for us all, before it is too late. I pray for one last chance to make a difference in this world before I disappear.

Next: Mollee's Update - The Forgotten Woman, But Now Not Alone

Your Turn: Have a story about surviving unemployment to share? Submit it to AOL Jobs. You just might be the next person featured!



Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

692 Comments

Filter by:
Silverfox Grey

The comments here just go to show how true what Mollee says really is. So many older women and men, too are in the same situation. But yet again, even among these comments are those who would judge and place blame .

September 04 2012 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
helen

I also offered my sympathy to the author of this article, several days ago. To my dismay, as a result of this, I ended up being solicited by a job "promising" website. What a shame, I am going to get to the bottom of this, Mollee Harper. This was supposed to be a featured article, not an ad.

December 04 2010 at 1:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patricia

Hello
Am a business owner, a mom and a student . I have heard this story of unemployment all over even in my family . However, I can help if you are interested in doing some work .

December 02 2010 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James

THIS, AND MOST OF THE BOO-HOO COMMENTS? WHAT A BUNCH OF CRAP. CAN'T WORK FOR 7-12 DOLLARS AN HOUR? MILLIONS HAVE AND DO. HOW'S $0 PER HOUR WORKING OUT? GET A GRIP... AND A JOB.

November 30 2010 at 6:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to James's comment
Theresa

Jimmy,
Get your head out of your ass! I've tried and it isn't working.



November 30 2010 at 8:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Queeny

I've got 2 words for you "North Dakota". CNN had a spot about the desperate need for workers. They can't build houses quick enough because they found OIL. They're are putting up container homes for the workers. For a single woman .... lots of working men. Check it out.

November 30 2010 at 5:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
joaquina winfrey

Moilee Thank you for your insight and thoughts on the single unemployed. Truly eye opening. More importantly it resonates with truth and this article was clearly your moment. I too am in your same predicament. I find it interesting that people have a hard time believing that as a single successful woman you could have allowed this to happen. They almost blame you for a situation you had no control over and are helpless to overcome. The lack of resources available to single women is limited. Like you I am continuing to forge a new life and pray that the garage door of opportunity swings wide open in 2011. All the best to you dear friend. I will keep you in my prayers.

November 30 2010 at 5:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Molly

My name is Molly. I worked in the construction industry as well. I was in kitchen and bath design. I was feeling very alone until I read your article. Perhaps now we can make friends that will love us, based not upon our trappings, but upon our souls. Do not be discouraged. Your letter has made me think about how I need to keep my soul rich. If I can, then the friends I make now, will value the only thing that is mine, the only thing that is with me no matter what my circumstance. This is true for you as well. I will think of you and our common struggle. I will pray for you. Perhaps finding your letter was an answer to a prayer I made earlier this evening. I think it was.

November 30 2010 at 5:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ry higg

i tell you what you do, wear a dress 2 sizes too small for you, put on lots of makeup an go out an meet a stranger an have a NASTY time an do things you never thought you would ever have let a man do to you...thats how you can get some more value in your life

November 30 2010 at 4:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ry higg's comment
Molly

ry higg...shut-up!

November 30 2010 at 5:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
michael m

I dont like to say this but your not alone and for all you college hopefuls that are trying to get jobs after school well follow me and you might have to keep the job you have had before you went to school. OH sorry two say but if you did not have a job before school then your looking at unemployment when you get out. Bummer its hard to be humble here but this person is a six figure income loosing everything. I ask you this did you play on wall street with all the other fat cats alike and if so where is our money you stole from us that have been working all our lives. I have no sympathy for you because you deserved being poor and its hard to be humble about it Oh merry christmas.

November 30 2010 at 4:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ron

I'm going through the same thing, but I'm a single dad with two teenage sons still at home. My oldest son was laid off, and all four of us have moved into my dad's house with my sister. I've lost my father, my job, my truck, my house and just about anything I had worth any money. I've applied for so many jobs I've lost count. No one wants to hire a person in there late forties when there are so many younger persons available. I've been on interview after interview with no luck. I've heard reason after reason from hiring managers about why they have decided to go "in another direction". The most common response is that I'm "overqualified", and that I will leave the position when something better comes along. Even so, I don't even hear back from most of them. It's extremely frustrating.

November 30 2010 at 4:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

Week of Sep 14 - Sep 21
View All

Picks From the Web