I was laid off. Fired. Let go.
For the first time in my life it was not my decision or my desire. And it hurts. A lot. It has been three weeks since this happened and I am still wrestling with it. Doubt clouds my days. Fear and frustration rules my nights. All it takes is one thought of what I left and I start wrestling all over again.
Last night, I was reading a book for my Tuesday morning book club and I reread the same sentence at least fifteen to twenty times before I could clear my mind enough to actually comprehend the words. Why? In helping out an ex-coworker with some information earlier in the day, I looked at a shared spreadsheet that I had used for keeping track of the momentous migration the company had just started. What I saw was that no one was updating the sheet. Immediately, thoughts of failure came flooding in. Why aren’t they using my sheet? Was I not doing it well? Was there another way that was better and I didn’t see it? Had I not solicited enough advice before putting the sheet together? I must be blind. And stupid.
All of that from one quick glance at a spreadsheet.
To cope with this momentous loss in my life, I am tackling several books, the primary one being Emotional Agility by Susan David. Being left brained and an introvert (or extravert-in-training) my whole life, I do not handle emotions well. And I am not handling my emotions well right now. But I am taking this as an opportunity to grow. This post, whether it is ever published or not, is part of this growth. Part of what helps unhooking yourself from a downward spiral of negative emotions is to write about them. So here I am, writing about by doubts, fears, and unhappiness.
What I think sucks the most about being fired is having to get right back on the horse again and sell yourself for a new job. I’m already feeling low and have a damaged self-esteem, so now I get to talk to at least five people a day that, in the end, say no, we don’t value you and no, we don’t need you.
I am a 54 year-old executive with a mortgage, family, and healthcare needs. Being without an income and healthcare coverage is like walking off a cliff. Later today, I will be going through our finances to figure out how long we can survive, and this is painful in itself.
I’ve been surviving for six years here in Nashville. I have only thrived for three months out of those six years. I had a great position where I felt was using my talents, I was being paid enough to get back to saving for retirement, and was finally in some sort of healthcare. Then that was taken away.
I’m tired of surviving. I’m tired of watching others that I’ve networked with get job after job after job that helps them thrive. Comparison, as Susan David (and many others, including Jesus), is a deadly game. But it makes me doubt myself even more. How can I position myself better? What can I change about my profile that will invite more opportunities to find me? I don’t know.
I reach out to five to ten people a day. I get responses from half. Why don’t the others respond? Do they not think I am worthy of a response? Do they think I am not worth the effort?
I’m tired, defeated, weak.
Update: One week later. I am feeling more healed. The nightmares have turned into interesting vignettes as the evil spirits of doubt and betrayal have shrunk and lost their potency. I still think about the “failure,” but my thoughts are now more mature, more balanced, and less damning to myself and others.
For fellow travellers on a similar journey, here are some things that have helped me:
- Allowing myself to feel. It is a fine line between a healthy feeling and an unhealthy feeling, but I know I need to push myself to just feel and not avoid feelings through tasks and busyness. Mindfulness is helpful with any type of emotion, not just positive emotions.
- Reading – Emotional Agility and The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. Takeaways from Emotional Agility: Unhooking myself from unhealthy loops through separating stimulus and response, labeling feelings and asking what purpose do they serve, say the words “let go” often.
Takeaways from 15 Commitments (so far): Creating an atmosphere for candor requires not thinking (or even wanting to think) that my thoughts are right. This is a very common theme in my life….
- Avoiding stimulus that isn’t productive. Since this transition was so sudden and I was so invested in the company and its mission, any connection to the company became a trigger for flashbacks. After the first few, I don’t believe they were productive and instead would send me into a downward spiral, impacting the relationships with family and friends.
- Surrounding myself with people that can help. Despite thinking that I am island, I need to be proactive in seeking out healthy perspectives from other people, even if I occasionally need to pay for it!
This post is ugly. But it has been helpful and cathartic. Time to let it go and be seen.