(Wow. This turned into a long one. My bad!)
It’s been awhile, friends. I don’t think I’ve posted around here since I began my tattoo apprenticeship—which is going great by the way. I’ve already learned a lot and the artists have been nothing less than encouraging and friendly. It is because of the apprenticeship, however, that I come to you today asking about your experiences being supported by a spouse or SO while going to school, etc.
There are a lot of variables here, so bear with me. I’ve worked for almost five years at a B&B, part-time but well-paying, enough to support myself modestly. Then rent went up, and we had to move right around the time I started the apprenticseship. Rent was still far more in the new place than what I was used to, and my guy told me that he could support me for a while if it came to that. I am the daughter of a woman who used to make me finish the sentence “Don’t you ever ever ever ever depend on no man,” so needless to say supporting myself is quite important to me. I told him I would keep up my job and the apprenticeship (which is unpaid, duh) for as long as I could, but keep his offer in mind.
So my new schedule looked like this: Two 10-hour days at the shop (usually more like 10.5-11), followed by three 16-hour days (cooking breakfast at the inn and then immediately hoofing it to the shop), followed by one more 6am breakfast shift on Saturdays, followed by basically spending every Sunday recovering (but hey, I do realize how lucky I am to at least have one day off from everything). Basically 70 hours at the least. All of this while I live about a mile from both jobs, and have no car (so walking to both). And somewhere in there I repainted the old apartment, moved, participated in a wedding, shopped for Christmas, and watched my relationship with my guy fray to its core.
On New Year’s Day, walking to the inn before 6am, I broke. I realized that I just couldn’t do it anymore. The apprenticeship means everything to me; I’ll never have an opportunity like it again. But I couldn’t keep going at the inn, especially with the added stress brought on by the fact that even though I was keeping it up, I was falling short every month on my end of rent and my own expenses. I told my guy I was ready to take him up on his offer, and we went over the timing and numbers. He assured me that he would have enough to cover rent and food starting now, and still basically have a whole paycheck to save every month (he has a very, very good job). I could keep up at the inn for a few more pay periods to put some $$ back so that I’d have a nice margin of spending money when I want a drink with friends or whatever, then quit and pick up some old successful etsy projects that I haven’t had time for to keep a little cashflow for myself going. We estimated doing this for a year, while I focus on my apprenticeship and start gradually earning again.
I have felt immense relief all week. The thought of having those mornings again. To do all the things I literally can’t spare a minute for from noon on Mondays to noon on Saturdays. Exercising. Putting my clothes away. Managing taxes, insurance, etc. Showering regularly. And being able to focus 100% on my new career instead of feeling like a zombie. I will still feel like I’m not pulling my weight and hate that, but I recognize what a real and kind and generous gift he is offering me, out of nothing but care and love for me (and probably the added benefit of enjoying my company more since I will be significantly less stressed, not to mention depending on him to do every little thing at home and getting unfairly frustrated at him because I’m just so overwhelmed). And all relying on his faith that I’ll succeed and hop right back in and contribute again. That is a grand and beautiful gesture, and I do appreciate it. I am very lucky and I know many people in apprenticeship positions never have such an opportunity.
Here’s where it gets tricky. His company is being bought out, and he’s waiting to the end of the month to hear more. He assures me that no one has given him any reason to worry about his job (to which I think—don’t people in these situations never see it coming? Aren’t they reassured til the last possible second to keep them productive until they’re not longer needed?) He also says even if he lost his job after the acquisition, he’d receive severance, and unemployment, and would likely be able to new job fairly quickly.
It makes me nervous, for one because I am already mentally out of the inn. There’s no going back for me. I can’t keep on there, even if he loses his job. I just can’t do it anymore. I’ve already tasted the freedom in my imagination and I can’t work there past early Feb, when I plan to have my last day. I’ll find something else if I have to.
I’m also nervous because my boss (who’s a real prick) wants to do one of his sort-of-yearly bullshit employee evaluation sessions, which basically only serve to make him feel like he’s a real manager. I can’t describe how degrading and insulting these sessions are (one year I was presented with a spreadsheet he’d been secretly keeping, recording dates/times when he’d found the hot water pot not topped off, or a streak on a mirror or some shit). I WILL NOT sit through one more if I can avoid it—which I can, if I give him like, a month’s notice, instead of just 2 weeks. Given the nature of the place (there are only 4 employees) I feel like a month’s notice will be kinder to my co-workers and also make the boss feel a especially warmer about it (I would still like to leave on good terms). However, a month’s notice would fall before the date when my guy expects to hear more about his company stuff. Like I said, I’m outta here regardless—I have to be. I’ll barely survive til my planned end date on this schedule as it is. But it still makes me nervous to push the big red button before my guy (who is pretty certain he’ll keep is job but still, you know?) hears more about his own situation.
So . . . what would you do? And have you been supported by a spouse or partner? What’s that like? What happened? Any particular stresses or unexpected resentments? How did you or he/she get past it?