This coming Saturday marks a milestone in my life. I will celebrate the 10th anniversary of my Second Life Day. While I’ve written about the events of this day in the past, this is the first time that I’ve ever attempted to document the entirety of the story. Over the next few days, I will be chronicling the saga that I went through. What you will read was written over the course of a few days in the summer of 2017. Some of you have heard the story, others lived through it with me. But I don’t know that anyone has actually gotten the entire story – until now.
I hope you will join me on this journey.
On March 3rd, 2008, I was given a second chance at life. Looking back now, 10 years later, I can see the miracle that occurred on that day. But the journey to that realization took some time. In order to truly understand the life-altering shift that occurred on my Second Life Day, you first need to understand the reality of my life. Or at least reality as I perceived it.
I had nearly hit rock bottom. Maybe not in a material sense, but spiritually, I was expended. I had a career; I had friends; I had a loving family, but I was not being true to myself. I had long since lost my way and was treading close to moral bankruptcy.
My spiritual decline started during my university days. I had begun to shy away from social interactions with people, and was retreating to the online world of chatrooms and instant messengers. My days and nights became endless hours of internet scouring. I would lose myself for hours on end, sleeping only long enough to function the next day at work or school. Already having a lacking social life, it did not take long for it to disappear entirely. The only in-person interactions I had were while I was at work or visiting with my family.
On the career front, I had been aimless since my university days. Not knowing which direction I wanted to go, I enrolled in an English Literature degree with a minor in History. Partway through my studies, I had the thought of going into teaching, but rather than switch programs, I continued with my course of study. Once I completed my degree, I applied to a couple of B.Ed. programs, but was hanging my hat on one of two schools located in Fredericton, NB. To that note, I agreed to move in with my friend, Pierre, as he was renting an apartment in Fredericton the following fall. The hiccup came when he was accepted into his program and I was put on a waiting list for mine.
Eventually, I was notified that I would not be admitted for the coming school year. This crushed me, whether I admitted it to myself or not. Pierre offered to try to find another roommate, but being a man of my word, I said no and moved to Fredericton, jobless, to hold up my end of the agreement.
The next couple of months did nothing to help my mental or spiritual well-being. After a few weeks of seeking employment, I ended up getting a job at Chapters. What I had not told anyone was that I had also started looking for work back home as well. Two weeks after I started my new job, I was offered a position at the Chapters store in Moncton. So I quit my job in Fredericton and moved back home. Being a man of principles, I continued to pay Pierre my half of the rent, but he quickly found someone to take over and move in to my now-vacant room.
The next five years of my life saw me be fully devoted to my job. Even if I was not enamored by the role for part of that time. In short order, I went from being a seasonal hire for the Christmas season to a full-time employee, to department lead. Two and a half years in, I finally caved and took a leadership role in the store. I had been approached a few times over the last few months, but kept turning them down. I had been getting bored with the job and had begun considering quitting. When another opportunity was dumped on my lap for a leadership role I thought, “Why not try it? If you don’t like it, you were planning on quitting anyhow!” The next three years further went on to drain me physically and emotionally.
I loathed my time as part of the leadership team at Chapters. The language is harsh, but this is my truth. The store was poorly managed by a revolving door of General Managers. In my three years on the leadership team, we had no fewer than five GMs. This included a stretch near the end with no GM at all, and a leadership team of three people when we used to be six. This lead to me working in excess of 70-80 hours per week (salaried, of course, so no additional remuneration), and stretches of 10-15 days without a day off.
After five years and nineteen days (not that I was counting), I worked my last shift at Chapters. Physically, emotionally, spiritually – I was drained. I had been running on fumes for weeks. I needed to get out of leadership; it was crushing my soul. So I took a risk and accepted a term position in a contact centre working for Medavie Blue Cross, an insurance company. Despite going from a permanent, salaried leadership role to a seasonal contract hire for their peak season, deep down I knew that this was the right move. I trusted my instincts and made the leap. This move was the first step in my eventual shift of consciousness.
On December 3, 2007, I started my new job. Despite having no desire to work in a contact centre (I had done so previously in my life), I was now making more money than I was in my previous leadership role, and with a fraction of the responsibility! Over the weeks to come, I quickly learned my trade and was offered a full-time, permanent position on February 25th, 2008. A few days later, I would nearly die.