Being Selfless

Well, I discovered that I was good at being selfless, forgetting about me and doing something for someone else. I used to work for the Daily News here. I was in the editorial department. It was summer, and I went to work one day, and I was downsized. I didn’t see it coming, but the Daily News was going through a lot of changes at the time. This was the 80’s. I walk into work all ready to go, do my thing, and I get called into the office…and they tell me. and of course you feel awful and worthless, and you don’t know where it came from, and you feel betrayed. I was given this wonderful package, 6 months salary, a year of healthcare. But I was still devastated, so I called home and my husband answers the phone and he says, you’ll never get this, “I got the co-starring role in Crocodile Dundee!”

So my news…you know..so I said, “I’m going to go do my nails.” To share they way I do things, When the going gets tough, the tough go do their nails. So I sat down, I’m having my nails done, I’m thrilled for him, and I’m devastated for me. It was summertime, we had just rented a house at the beach. I’ve gotten fired, my husband is off, and I don’t want to rain on his parade. So as my nails are being done, I’m talking to myself in my head. And I said, “ok, this is not about you. This is about him. You are not going to say anything that’s going to rain on his parade. Get it together girlfriend, and do your thing. And your thing is, sitting by the sideline and applauding.” But of course, life gets complicated. My daughter, who was 5, had just broken her wrist! So have a 5-year-old daughter with a broken wrist in a cast, a husband who’s going off to have his dreams fulfilled, a dream of a lifetime, and I’ve gotten downsized. And I have to pull up my panties, and be a big girl, and say, “Hey it’s not about you Carmen.” So I go home. I lived on Manhattan Plaza, the Daily News was on 42nd between Lexington and 3rd. I do my nails, walk home to 42nd and 9th avenue, and go upstairs and he opens the door, and of course he’s thrilled, and he’s “Wow this is what every actor wants, to be in a big Blockbuster film!” And here I am, little old me, my little heart is shriveled. And I’m doing the best acting I’ve ever had to do. The next day he gets picked up. I’m walking downstairs and I say, “Ok, have a great time, be you, be the best you can be, break a leg” and all that stuff. The car drives off, and I’m left there with a 5-year-old with a broken wrist and a cast. I couldn’t make it to the building, I just broke down. It was really, really difficult. But to this day, I’m so happy that I put me aside and put someone else first. You’re used to doing it for your kids, but to do it for another grown-up, someone of course you love and live with. It was just an accomplishment for me because I never thought I could do that.

I never told him until he came back 5 months later. I never told him. And he would call…there were no tweets or zoom in the 80’s! This was ’85/’86. So that’s something I discovered about myself, that I was able to do. You know…to me it as devastating, I mean death is devastating, but if you know anything about me, I’m all about the job…you know, my career, and anyway, that’s what I discovered I was good at.

You know what I’ve learned? When you pull deep down, there’s grit. It’s grit that got me through it. This is not the most devastating stuff, cancer is more devastating and what not, but when you look at someone’s life, or when you look at your own life, and you decide what’s important or not important…for me, it was very telling that I believed that there was something more important than me. It’s not always you. There are other people in the world. And there’s a time to take a back seat. And I had never known that. I’ve never had to deal with it. But I give myself an A+, you said to brag, I give myself an excellent.

Because it took 5 months, I finally told him, when he came back of course. He was…I mean, and I was still unemployed to get another job in media. I did a little freelance here and there. No one wants you when you’re unemployed. Everyone wants you when you’re employed. You need a job, you’re looking for a job, but they don’t want you. They want you to have a job. It’s crazy.