A new day

Last night I was finally able to let go of a secret I hated carrying. For the past two and a half years it ate away at me.  Over the course of those 30 months, there have been numerous times I wanted to scream out the truth, but I made a promise to a friend that I wouldn't until the time was right.

Last night, that time finally came. With it came the closing of a chapter which puts me one step closer to that last chapter of the book I one day hope to write. A book that will tell the story of my transition from victim to survivor to flying free. Every day I am getting a little closer - I feel it. One large step remains, but, hopefully, soon it will be behind me.

The secret I exposed last night, I realize, may come at a price as I know I am stepping on some wealthy toes - millionaires, in fact, one of which was mentored by a billionaire who is known to go for the proverbial throat. But, at the same time, there's a huge part of me that really doesn't give a damn. The damage has already been done - there's not much left to happen. Financially, my bank account is a joke so they wouldn't get much there. I drive a car I don't trust and the windows don't roll down - pretty sure they wouldn't want that. My house is a fixer upper - needs a furnace and water heater, their garages are probably worth more.  I've raised my children so they are not counting on me feeding them nor putting a roof over their head. I am in the 2nd half of my life, so, couch surfing actually sounds like a retirement adventure - I'm good with that. So, yes, I did weigh everything before I opened up that closet door and let those skeletons out.

The story was one of a friend, a friend who is very much like family to my boys and me. She was there for me during my darkest days - days when I fought the urge to drive my car off a cliff. There is only a couple of people in my life who know that part of me, the desperation this tower of strength fought too many times - and those couple of people, mean the world to me.

This post and the story is all about what happened to Dianna Anderson - my one-time boss, although she hated it when I called her that. When I first got to know her she was one of the owners of The Messenger of Juneau County, where I worked. We quickly became friends. We'd spend a lot of time on the phone, spilling our guts out to one another, venting about life, or laughing our asses off. Working in media is a tough job and you need to be able to have those kinds of relationships with the people you work with - it helps to get through the rough days.

In 2014 she and her business partner decided to sell the paper. There's a long story behind the motivations, but that is not part of this story. They sold the paper to Lewis County Press out of Missouri- of which a couple of the owners are Chicago area based investors.  The deal was one where they'd receive a partial payment upfront and then the rest would be paid out over the course of 4 years AND as long as they worked for the paper (that is key to this story.)

Dianna's business partner left just a few months after the paper was sold. This left Dianna as the top dog at the paper, the editor. Backing her was Mandy who handled most aspects of the office including graphic arts and myself as a full-time reporter. I also handled working with Lewis County Press on getting a functional website up and going, as well as being the person who handled all the social media for the paper. My salary for all of that, was 20,400...basically just over 10 bucks an hour for a 40 hour week...which, if I just worked 40 hours, that was a rare treat. Oh, and this was without any benefits. The payoff for me was I could do my work from home and be available for my boys, plus living with autoimmune disorders if I needed to rest, I could.

In August of 2015, Dianna received word that she was about to face a battle of her life, for a 2nd time, breast cancer. The news was devastating. I remember that at the time there was a general manager overseeing the papers. Dianna informed him about what was going on and he visited us at the paper.  He had worries - worries that should others find out about her diagnosis it may mean doom to her position at the paper. He rallied us to step up and help fill her shoes while she went for treatment, what he didn't know was he didn't need to utter a word to us, we were already well on board with whatever Dianna needed.

In September she had to face something every woman dreads, a double mastectomy - a procedure that was needed to happen before she started chemo.

It was scary for all of us - we were terrified for her but tried to remain strong, and she -well, she put on a brave face for all of us.  Somehow we managed to get a paper out, every week, on time.

Needless to say her medical bills were climbing and all of her friends decided to throw her a benefit to help take off some of that stress. It is hard to plan a cancer benefit that is well advertised and yet keep it a secret. We knew everyone, including some we didn't want to know, would find out - so, it was time to own everything that was going on.

In October I sent an email out to the owner letting them know about her December benefit and how family, friends, and community were rallying around her.

It was around that last week in November Dianna told us one of the owners was coming up to talk to her and would be in Wisconsin just days before her benefit. A part of me wondered if maybe they were actually going to donate something to my well deserving friend. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Instead, he laid at her feet three impossible options for her future: 1) Fire our office manager  2) Buy the paper for $1  or 3) Walk away and lose the $45,000 they owed her.

Let's look at those options -
1) Anyone with a soul knew Dianna wouldn't fire one of the very people who has stood by her throughout this nightmare, especially right before she would have to rely on that person when she was heading into her cancer treatments.
2) Buying the paper for $1 was a joke - you have to have funds available to meet the immediate expenses, including payroll. He knew she didn't have the money - the benefit was that weekend.
3) The impossible choice of losing $45k was the only real option before her.

Well, now you know part of the story - I will let Dianna tell the rest, in her own words. This is the video I taped last night. My first interview away from the paper I just resigned from. A paper that closed its doors when I did quit. Yes, this interview is that start to the last chapter of the book of my transition from victim to survivor to flying free. My hopes are that by the end of summer my house will be sold and I will move on with my life - free from my past and all the ties that bind....(read my prior posts for background)

Thank you Dianna - finally we are free from this secret -


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