Life After Lay Off : Week 3

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Two applications a week.

That’s all that is required to receive unemployment. Never mind that it’s only a few hundred a week. It’s all the income you have right now.
You search the newspaper, the internet, and corporate websites for jobs. You even check the student job board of your alma mater – though it’s been years since you graduated.

You send out a couple of resumes for jobs you don’t even really want.

You find a job that is perfect for you and you are surprised at how excited you feel about the opportunity. You shine up the resume, write a killer cover letter and prepare your answers to likely interview questions. You mentally inventory your wardrobe and plan what you will wear to work at your fabulous new job. You polish your interview shoes. You get a haircut.

You don’t get the job though, because despite all of the aforementioned you never bothered to send the resume because the little voice inside your head reminded you that you’re not good enough. Why? Because if you were then the employer you had devoted the past 8 years of your life to; the job you loved; the firm you were proud to work for … they told you so. Remember?

You schedule an appointment with your therapist because you still have 2 weeks left of insurance coverage.

And because you are falling apart.


Life After Lay Off: Week 2

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Finally I accepted that I had to get up. After all, I’ve always been a survivor, right? It’s what is expected of me. What kind of parent abandons their kid to fend for himself and answer all the phone calls and pretend it’s all okay? How many times could he claim I was in the shower? How many times could I tell him I was okay when he could clearly see I wasn’t? It was a great farce we were playing out within the walls of our home that week.

So I got up. I showered. I ate some soup and promptly threw it back up. I showered again and slept on the couch that night. Eventually the soup stayed down and with the help of some supportive friends I was able to begin to function again.

I filed for unemployment. I deposited my last paycheck and paid what bills I could. I bumped up all my routine doctor’s appointments to beat the cancellation date of my insurance. I filled all of my prescriptions. I updated my resume and then updated it again. I began to network. I applied for as couple of jobs and then updated my resume again.

I had officially joined the ranks of the unemployed in America.


Life After Lay Off: Week 1

Your boss asks you to come up to her office and you know it’s not good because in the eight years you’ve worked there you could barely get her to even answer an e-mail, much less grant you a meeting. When you arrive you instinctively close the door. You note that the witness she has chosen is a woman whom you’ve considered a sort workplace mother figure - onewhose shoulder you’ve cried on many times. Even though you know there has to be a witness you wish it wasn’t her.

As you hear the news the tears begin to flow – silently, but humiliating nonetheless. Your boss is saying something about how hard the decision was and how it breaks her heart, and the snarky voice inside you laughs at the charade. Your co-worker/witness offers a hug and you shrink back. “Don’t you get it,” you want to scream, “You are the enemy in this scenario.” You let her hug you anyway. You know they are just following a script that calls for their characters to be sympathetic; almost apologetic. The part of you that left your body as soon as you entered the room is hovering in the corner as an objective observer and wonders just who is supposed to be comforting whom. Finally you ask if you can leave.

You go back to your desk; somehow managing to not trip as you go down the stairs. You pick up a box and put it on your well worn black office chair. You know that if you sat in it your chair right now and leaned back you’d still have a brief moment of panic thinking you were going to fall, because even after all these years you still never got used to its tilt. For some odd reason you check your e-mail and then delete them all while still standing. People chat behind you at the mailroom as if everything is still normal. You pick up a picture frame and put it in the box then remove it and place it back on your desk. You realize that there is nothing you want to take with you because it is all worthless now. Symbols of when you mattered. You take the box off your chair, push it under your desk, pick up your purse, and you walk out. Your sole goal is to get out of the building without falling completely apart. It’s hard to maintain any dignity at all when you’ve just been told you’re not good enough, but you’re determined to hold on to what little of it remains. The receptionist smiles at you curiously because usually when you leave before 5 you tell her when you will be returning. Surprisingly you are able to smile at her before you push through the paned wooden door of the firm for the last time.

Somewhere between the parking lot and your own driveway the ugly tears are unleashed. By the time you reach your front door you are a hysterical mess in full-blown snotty cry.
Your neighbor has also just come home and when he says hello you are unable to respond. You can only shake your head through his concerned questions. You are glad he doesn’t try to hug you.

It’s weird to be in your living room in the middle of a weekday. Even the cats look confused. You lie down on your couch and sob for two hours. It’s too much to process. It hurts too much to even try to think about it.

You wash your face before your son comes home. As soon as he walks in the door you ask him to sit down and calmly tell him the bad news. He takes it remarkably well and somewhere underneath your own pain you feel proud of him.

Then you go to bed, where you stay for the next five days. You cry until there are no more tears and then you fall asleep. Whenever you wake up you cry some more. You refuse to talk to anyone. You don’t bathe. You don’t eat. And every morning when the sun comes up a part of you is disappointed that you didn’t die during the night.

You know you have to get up, but you are too terrified to try. A week ago you had purpose.

Today you are unemployed.