Hello first of all I want to say that it is not in my nature to ask for any kind of help. I have historically only shared my personal problems with others once they’ve been resolved. I realize that this isn’t healthy and have often suffered for it. After all pride is a deadly sin right. Also pride is a luxury I can no longer afford. Not asking for help would only hurt my 5 year old son. My name is Joel. I’m a 41 year old single father of a 5 year old alpha male. I am 6’2″ 200 lbs and have always relied on my physical strength and skills to apply my strength to make my way in life. I have spent most of my adult life in the construction trades I am skilled in all aspects of building, remodeling and maintenance. I have a strong work ethic and often push myself to my limits to inspire those around me. My strength and my profession is(/was) a large part of my identity. It’s a profession that makes pretty good money too around $50,000/yr. The last couple years everything changed for my son and I. First my legs swelled up out of nowhere one day and I couldn’t even put on my boots to leave the house. After a short period of thinking I was going to die. Tests ruled out heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and blood clot. Eventually I was diagnosed with Vascular disease. About 6 months of surgeries later removing damaged veins from my legs and the swelling mostly went away. What I was left with were ankles and feet that are all messed up. I can’t lift my toes up or down rotate my ankles in any manner, any kind of movement below my knees is extremely painful and causes popping and tearing. Standing is extremely painful not to mention walking or driving. All of which I have to do everyday just to get my kid up and dressed and off to school and back, cook and clean. Basically I’m crippled now, handicapped. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that this is it for me. I mourned the loss of that part of me and got to work reinventing myself.
I’ve always been an artist and musician. I had to leave the Art program at the local college in my second year to work full time. So after doing a lot of research on how people make money from home, I decided that my time in art school was likely my greatest remaining skillet and asset. An Opportunity to resume my chance to do what I always wanted to do in my youth, which was earn a living through art. I chose a print on demand ecommerce business model. And set out spending 8 plus hours a day working on it because I still have the work ethic and drive. I built a store on a platform called Etsy with around 300 products with my unique designs on them. If someone orders something I send the order to one of my printing partners they print my designs on the product and fulfil the order…in theory.
Now I find myself about to have to move my son and I out of the only home he’s ever known into my car. My rent is $1300/month and I am $5600 behind. My landlord has been very understanding and sympathetic to even allow my debt to get this high but they simply can’t anymore. I’ve applied for numerous grants and disability insurance. I might get disability eventually but it’s not going to pay for my debt. My business is almost there but I just don’t have any capital to spend on important things like advertising, market research, a designated website, search engine optimization and all the things necessary to actually get my products in front of potential buyers. Without which nobody will ever see all my hard work and that too will have been for nothing.
It is so frustrating that a few thousand dollars are the difference between one possible future and the other. One being an unknown fate for my son and I on the streets eventually just living from one disability check to the next trying to keep my son and I from giving into despair. The other being a successfully entrepreneur eventually getting disability to supplement my income until I make enough to not have to ask anybody for anything.
Any money that I do put into my business goes to hiring others so it creates employment for others and of course my saint of a landlord who I know has suffered for all of this out of compassion for me and love of my son. If I ever do become a success as an entrepreneur I plan on getting a physical location so I can hire college students and host workshops and classes for the next generation of artists. I just can’t fathom losing any hope of that just to focus on day to day survival watching my son go from a happy innocent little ball of energy to having to grow up real quick as everything he owns and knows goes away over the course of a month or two. I’m a 41 year old man with tears in my eyes writing this.
I know none of this is your responsibility but if your here then you must be in the position to give back. Not only that but you took the time to find your way here, did some research to find a way to make it matter the most. I get it, I still give what I can to people less fortunate than me, even in my situation. Believe me a few small contributions will literally alter the course of who my son will grow up to be and it’s no longer in my hands. Bless you for even reading this far. It was good for me to just get it out on the table like this. Even if you don’t think you can do anything to help me you already have just by hearing me out. Thank you.