Monday, October 19, 2009

Time To Make Lemonade!

Having never lost a job before I really had no idea what to expect after getting my "60 Days".  That's corporate speak for your job has been eliminated and we're giving you two months where we'll pay you to find a new one.  Anyway, I gladly spent most of the first two weeks of that time helping transition my various duties to those folks and groups who would assume them after I left.  I really wanted the folks I worked for to be taken care of - after all that is what I worked so hard to do every day for so many years! It was a convenient thing too, because It meant I could pretend things were relatively normal for a while longer.

But they were not.

Once I was no longer expected to appear in the office, I really started to feel like a fish out of water. It started to feel like a permanent hole had appeared in my gut. . . I stopped eating much, I lost weight. I withdrew from my family's activities, I slept a lot . .  A LOT!

My dear wife was quite understandably concerned about me. But I kept reassuring her that I was fine, and just needed to adjust to my situation, just needed some time to my self. . .

The highlights of my next few weeks were attending meetings with the career counselors and HR folks at my soon-to-be-ex employer.  I can say this much about the company - they do have an awesome set of resources in their HR staff.  They are wonderful folks; They genuinely cared about helping me prepare for the daunting task of job hunting and I am grateful for their help.

But after a while there were no more workshops to take, no more sage advice from folks who had "been there".  Even the mock interviews, reportedly handled like a pro, were behind me.  Time was running out . . .

I was left with just about nothing but the hole in my gut to keep me company.  It was unrelenting, unsympathetic, all consuming, and at times nearly unbearable. . . . I finally admitted to my wife how much pain I was in.  It surprised me how much it hurt, to be suddenly without that which had become so much a part of the fiber of who I was. I broke down and sobbed in her arms. It was such a release - Yet I immediately regretted appearing so weak to her. I'm supposed to be the man in the house!  I'm supposed to be strong! After that I retreated even further into my own personal purgatory - which of course was self defeating. I'm sure even as you read this you can visualize a swirling vortex, the spiraling down or spinning out of control that one so often hears about . . . 

So then many of you will recognize what I have just described as depression.  There is no other word for it.  And no adequate way to describe it, so I won't try - Those readers who have experienced it know, the rest of you should feel very lucky!!!.  Anyway, fortunately I recognized something was seriously wrong and reached out for help . . . And found it in the form of a therapist who made all the difference. (Again, my soon to be ex employer provided the salvation I needed in the form of free counseling services!)

I won't bore you with all the gory details, but I will say that the pivotal moment for me was when I learned that what I was experiencing was grief.  A part of me had died and I needed to let it go.  Funny, even though I have lost both my parents, I had never grieved so much before.  Sounds strange I know, but I lost my parents slowly to disease.  My father suffered a long decline due to Parkinson's disease. I got to say to him what I needed to before he passed, so it was more of a relief when his suffering was over. The same was mostly true of my mother.  She had cancer, so I knew what needed to be done; we had prepared for the inevitable. So even though she did pass unexpectedly quickly, It was not devastating. In fact it was a blessing that she didn't endure much pain or suffering.

Losing my job was like some powerful malevolent force had suddenly reached into my soul and ripped out a critical piece of my very being.  Indeed, it had . . .

These things I came to understand through sessions with the therapist.  It sounds cliche, but putting a name to it made all the difference.  I have long believed that one can not change what one does not acknowledge.  In this case acknowledgment took the form of understanding that I was experiencing grief of the highest order - and fortunately I knew how to deal with that!

I am so much stronger now.  I will never again define myself so much by what I do for a living.  This experience has brought into sharp focus just how important my family is to me.  How important my friends are to me.  And for the first time, how important I am to them . . . A worth that is not defined by a paycheck or the skills that earn it, but by the Husband, father, and friend I always was to those who love and care about me.

Lemonade anyone?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years Ago Today . . .

 . . .  need I say more?

Probably not, though I'm still surprised at the strength of the emotions that are evoked within me each year on this day. Eight years have not healed the wounds.  I have not forgotten . . .  nor do I think I ever will.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Life Doles Out The Sour Citrus

Well, here it is, the last day of August and I'm sitting in front of a monitor, fingers on keys typing away. Something I've done every day for years - a few months more than 20 years, in fact. Another typical Monday for a Married Father of two. Except the venue is different these days. Decidedly . . . homier . . . you could say.

Because, well, it is home after all.

And so in that respect everything is different about this Monday. In fact, just about everything has been different every day for the past 5 months.

It was on April 3 that things changed. Had I been more curious, I might have noticed that the meeting notice my manager had scheduled a few days prior was not quite in line with the usual meetings she scheduled with us. Longer, this one. Kinda had a vague-ish subject. And not back to back with similar meetings for the others on the team like usual. It was also scheduled in the cafeteria. It's not an unusual thing for meetings to be held there, except my manager was usually very good about finding appropriate meeting rooms . . .

I only recall a slight unease as I headed down the elevator and toward the seating area of the cafeteria. I'm sure I dismissed it as the typical twinge one feels when going to see one's supervisor one-on-one about something. See, I had just been given a raise not even a month prior. Even though the economy was tanking and Management had warned us that very few if any of us would get any raise at all - my manager was extremely pleased with me and my work performance and pulled all the strings she could to get me the maximum raise possible. She had even given me an important and challenging assignment for this year, proving her confidence in me and my ability to get the job done.

But then I caught sight of her and immediately sensed something. My smile sagged and my shoulders drooped a little. A few more steps closer and the alarm in my head started banging away at full alert. I could now see that her eyes were red as if she had been crying. This being completely out of character for my "no nonsense" boss, I was now quite shaken - Something serious was about to be related to me - My mind reeled with the possibilities . . . Was her team being disbanded? Had some or all of us been reassigned to other teams or duties? Had someone died? My thought in that instant though was that, whatever it was, I could handle it - there would be a change, but that's often a good thing . . . I had just gotten a raise . . .

Then she said something - we were going to another place so we stood up and she led the way. I remember a numbness; There was a soft buzzing sound and a vibration in my limbs. Through tunnel vision I saw people passing by in a slow motion blur. I have no idea if I was smiling or grimacing. Then, as if through thick, cold molasses the two letters naming our destination finally managed to push themselves into my consciousness: HR. We were going to HR! The alarm in my head flew from it's mount and exploded - and in a defensive spasm my thoughts were taken over with trying to think of anything I might have done to have gotten myself fired.

But before any concrete thoughts could come together in my head we arrived at a small meeting room in the HR office. The door was closed and I was being introduced to a younger man who, I noticed when I shook his hand, seemed to be much more nervous than I. He was shaking. Strangely, I was not. In fact I had suddenly grown very calm. Even as I was being told that I was being laid off, that my job had been eliminated due to market downturn and budgetary constraints, I was returning to a much more normal state of being. My normal senses returned, and I actually felt sorry for the two people now sitting facing me, their faces full of concern, sadness and regret. Sorry that they had to be the bearers of such unhappy tidings.

My first words at this news? "OH GREAT!"

Now, as I sit here in hindsight, I wish I had said something with much more force; Though I'm not sure that even the obvious "F-word" choice would have done justice to the event. . . For there was so much more I didn't know about what being laid off means.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

News Flash! This Blog Is Not Dead . . .

Well, it has been a long time since I've managed to post something. And a lot has happened over the eight months since my last post - The most dramatic thing being that I was laid off in April.

I'll surely be able to get a few posts out of that, but a lot of other things have happened that are blog worthy too: Our beloved dog died. We managed to get a small vacation in. Both of our children have started a new phase in their education. A favorite Aunt passed away. I even managed to sign up for Facebook!

Look for my musings on these and other topics in the near future.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Well, I know it's late, but I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and have started this new year on a happy note. . .

As for me, it has been a very good holiday season, and I'm hopeful that 2009 will prove to be a good year for everyone. . .

Guess we'll find out!