The day began like many others: a flurry of emails, inquiries to respond to, reports and issues to troubleshoot. I had planned to work on the prep for some large upcoming projects. I was sure to make headway on a lot of pending tasks.
Then, mid afternoon, I went to a meeting. The next thing you know, I no longer had a job. Things were changing, and my position had been “eliminated”. I was laid off.
(As this is all so new, and to protect myself and those I know, I will not go into any details.)
I left the office and thus began the process of grieving a loss. It has only been some days since it all happened, and yet I have experienced a myriad of emotions.
Prior to becoming a Mom, work was really my life. And for so many people like me, I felt like what I did, and how I came to be there, really defined me. I didn’t know how else to be. Work was everything.
Of course, when I became a Mom, work took a definite backseat to family priorities. And yet, it continued to be there. A consistent, routine thing that I regularly counted on for 10 years of my life. It wasn’t as intense as it had been, but I was still very proud of what I did and who I did it for. Work was an accomplishment. Work allowed me to enjoy the non-necessities in life. Work was still a part of me. I knew it wouldn’t last forever, but I never anticipated that it would end so soon.
It is so true what everyone says – the loss of a job is really very much a loss in your life. You lose your routine. You lose your identity. You lose consistency. You lose financial stability. You lose the comfort of knowing what’s around the corner. You lose an everyday, stable environment filled with tasks and people who have become a part of your life. You lose a multitude of things and you begin the stages of grief.
(According to grief.com, the five stages are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance).
Initially, nothing made sense about what happened. I was in shock and couldn’t feel too much emotion. I was sad about how it impacted my family, but not to the extent that it felt real. In this state of shock, I did not sleep. I couldn’t eat and my body was in distress. It lasted only a few days but it was difficult nonetheless.
As far as anger goes, I know some people feel this way initially, but I have yet to experience it. I am not angry at the people I work with. I am not angry at my situation. I get frustrated with things, but I have yet to feel anger.
When it came to bargaining, I went through one or two what-if scenarios in my head. However, I know that in my circumstance, it likely would not have changed anything. There are things that I cannot control and thus, the what-if game is futile for me. I want certain things back, but I know that wishing for things in the past causing more anguish. I want to get better. I want to move forward. The what-if game doesn’t get me there.
I can say, that I am right smack in the middle of the depression (and anxiety) stage. This is a tremendous loss that is deeply rooted and related to events in my past. It is a silent fear that has been dormant in my subconscious for a very long time. This event triggered difficult memories and fears and caused deepened the sense of loss.
I didn’t think I was immune to being laid off. But, I had foolishly thought that I still had time before it happened to me. The realization of my error and the very harsh reality that things were no more is very painful. While not constant throughout the day, I feel like anxious. I feel like I may not have the proper skills to get something else. I have anxiety over not having a paycheck. I feel sad that my life will be held back because of this. I am scared of not being able to support myself and my family.
I am sad that my husband has to shoulder all the responsibilities. I am sad because I feel like I’m not a good contributor to the family (I know that this is a VERY irrational thought as I know many non-working parents who super heroes!)
All this in turn, fuels the depression.
I cry. I feel heaviness in my heart. I feel despair when I think about the future. This stage is BRUTAL.
I don’t want this one thing to define me. I don’t want it to affect the rest of my life. I want to be able to move forward.
The one thing that has helped is the tremendous amount of support from friends and family. I am overwhelmed by the amount of love and support that they have shown to me. Friends and family have made enormous efforts to show their support. They call. They text. They listen. They give advice only when I ask of it. They offer things to help me find my next opportunity or to even just survive through my own means. They give me comfort.
I am some ways away from the last stage, which is acceptance. It doesn’t mean that I can’t begin to move forward. I have plans, goals and things to look forward to. I make myself busy, and engage in self-care as much as possible. As much as I dislike it, I allow myself to feel the emotions. It’s painful, but necessary.
I’m still scared of the future, but I really am starting to believe in this new chapter in my life. The comfort and stability hid so many insecurities, worries and curiosity. Now, nothing holds me back.