by Vanessa Torres
I never thought I'd be an entrepreneur. It wasn't something I dreamed of or studied for. It just kind of happened.
About a year ago my fiancé decided that marrying me was not the best choice for him and so he left me five days before our wedding. In a span of six months my whole life changed. I was single again for the first time in eight years. I had to find a new place to live. I had to leave my two dogs behind with the Ex, who kept the house. I had a surgical procedure looming that I was supposed to assume would take me out of commission for at least eight weeks. A routine doctor visit turned up another, completely unrelated, fairly serious diagnosis.
And then suddenly, my job was "eliminated."
I was so devastated by all that I was already dealing with, that I could barely feel the panic of losing my job. It was actually kind of a relief to not have to "fake it" through the day anymore. My job had gotten increasingly unsatisfying, and with the joint battle of having to diffuse the overwhelming pity everyone felt for me, I was exhausted. There is some adage I can't remember exactly about not being able to panic about multiple things at the same time. I can now attest to its veracity. There is only so much the brain and body can take, and the job loss was last on the list. After all, that was just about money; I found the personal affronts far more devastating.
After a few weeks of taking some downtime and filing for unemployment I started thinking about what my next steps would be. There was a little voice in my head telling me to use my experience as a springboard. Instead of trying to pretend like none of this had ever happened, I thought about exposing it further – the opposite of what the old me would have done. The idea for www.ThatHappenedtoMe.com came fast and stuck. At one point I decided not to ignore it anymore, but to grow something positive out of the seed that had been planted. I asked a friend and former colleague to help me build a website. I asked my friends to give me their honest opinions and strangers to share their stories with me. I started reading blogs written by other women. I started going to therapy to see if there was anything about myself that I had been "missing" all these years. But, most importantly, I joined two national women's networking groups.
The amount of support I've received from those women is the sole reason for my successes to date. Without their help (this site's Deborah Bailey included) I would never be this far along in achieving my goals. Asking for support has been my greatest marketing tool. Instead of assuming that everybody was too busy with their own lives/businesses/families to answer my silly, 101 questions, I just threw it out there and hoped for the best. The responses I got were incredible; these women answered my questions, sent me helpful links, and even offered to give me classes on web marketing and SEO applications. I've never received that kind of support and encouragement from people who were virtual strangers, but then again, I had never asked for it either. I had never put myself out there before in such an honest and straightforward way. And when I did, the help, support and encouragement was plentiful.
I stopped seeing my shrink in September. I ripped the band aid off and launched my site at the end of October. In November I voted for the most exciting presidential candidate my generation has ever known. This month, I am determined to enjoy the holidays. My surgery is scheduled for February. The second, scary diagnosis turned out to be false. The doctors - all three of them - HAD MADE A MISTAKE. Just like my ex-fiance did.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Vanessa Torres began her career as a journalist in Los Angeles. In 2007 Vanessa experienced her "aha!" moment while going through the aftermath of a broken engagement. Having not actually been married, she realized that there weren't any hard and fast rules or legal precedents established regarding a breakup with a Significant Other. Not being able to find a place where women could get support from peers – and professionals – she decided to create one. www.ThatHappenedtoMe.com launched in October of 2008 with the support of a team of experts prepared to give women what they want and need – comforting! One of the main goals of the site is to encourage women to open up about this painful experience and share their stories in an effort to lessen the feelings of shame, rejection, isolation and depression that are so prevalent during a breakup. It's also a place to share tips, coping strategies, and even a joke or two.