Here I am. 45 and UNEMPLOYED. Not the scenario I would have imagined for myself even 6 months ago. But does anyone?
I REALLY didn’t think it would happen. Our organization knew our program was in trouble at the state level, but I figured all would be ok. We were doing what we were supposed to do. We did good work. I was really good at my job. (That’s what mattered right?!) We were all committed to our work. Our partners and state representatives were in our court, advocating to the Governor. No one would ultimately take away the resources that provided support and assistance from the vulnerable, yet AMAZING program participants who were benefiting from the services we provided. All would be right with the world.
And yet here I sit. Unemployed.
I am the opposite of a realist. I am an optimist in what could be the the worst way. Some could say I am dangerously optimistic. ( Did you catch that there? ) I try to stay realistic, but in the end I figure everything will work out. And did I say I was really good at my job? That my colleagues were really good at their jobs? We believed in our mission. We were innovating. We were meeting our performance measures. In the world of non-profits, it is all about performance measures. If you meet your performance measures, you keep your money. That’s the belief anyway.
You can imagine my shock when we actually did lose the funding.
We live in crazy times my friends. I could rant and rave for pages and pages describing how the grant that funded our program was unfairly and unjustly yanked out from under us. But I won’t. The fact is there are good people without a job and many, many individuals not able to benefit from valuable programs.
|Myself & co-workers
Aleigh & Nigel
For me, losing my job felt like I was losing a piece of myself. I was comfortable with my work family. I had a great team. At work. I was the expert. I was confident. People respected me and I knew the answers to the questions. What was I supposed to do? We were a very unique program in Maine. Maine, people! I couldn’t just whip up a resume and go down the street to the next non-profit. I wanted to scream, “What about me? What about MY 5-year plan? What am I supposed to do NOW?”
And it’s Christmas for goodness sake!! (December 1st was my last day).
*cue temper tantrum*
And so here I am. Still 45 and still unemployed.
Once the dust settled, the tears were all cried, and I had time to just BE, I started to examine my situation.
Actually, that’s a lie. I think that’s what I thought I was supposed to say.
What actually happened was I became so busy shuttling my kids around, running errands, cooking dinner, creating new art for my website (wordsmithstudios on etsy.com), re-connecting with friends…I was running my ASS off. I was just as busy as I had been when I was working 40+ hours a week.
My first epiphany was How the HELL did I ever WORK? How did I do everything, including Etsy stuff AND work?
The difference was, without the full-time gig, I didn’t feel as stressed or anxious. I actually started being a mother. And a wife. I was devoting more time to my Etsy shop. And it didn’t feel all wrong. I was busy, but not CRAZYTRESSEDOUTFULLTIMEJOB MOM busy.
When I was working, stress was constant. I would be driving like a maniac to pick my son up for an appointment because I had left my office 15 minutes later than planned, only to stress my son out because he had been waiting for me to arrive during those 15 minutes. Had I crashed? Would we be late for his appointment? Would we crash on the way TO the appointment because I was then speeding to get to the appointment on time? Then in the waiting room, I would be talking to him while checking emails and planning for what I would cook for dinner by way of the microwave. Leaving the appointment meant booking it back to the office real quick to sit in on a final meeting, sign paperwork, check in with staff, and grab my laptop so I could do whatever work I needed to catch up on because I had been out of the office for that appointment. Then home I would go. I’d walk in the door to my house and my stress would spike because there was the messy living room littered with dishes from the morning. Grrrrr. Keep going to the kitchen and the dishes were overflowing the sink and counter because the dishwasher was full and my daughter won’t unload it unless I remind her 3 times….
…and guilty. I always felt guilty. Guilty for going to work. Guilty for staying home. Guilty if I needed to be home for my kids for something. Guilty for being at work and not home. Guilty for not paying attention to my kids. Did I say that already? Guilty when I was relieved they didn’t want me to pay attention to them. Guilty I wasn’t one of those parents who volunteered hours at school or made special signs for athletic events or whipped up cupcakes for the class party. Guilty for not playing more board games. Guilty for not just unloading the dishwasher instead of making my daughter do it. Guilty that unloading it would not teach her responsibility and that I thought about giving in. Guilty for paying too much attention to my kids and not enough to my husband. I felt guilty for feeling guilty!
Whenever I tried to articulate the anxiety to my family and plead for help, the answer was always, “You just have to let some things go.” “Stop letting the little things get to you.”
Ok. Well, what would I let go? Do I stop doing laundry, because it is surely going to pile up. And then what? More stress and anxiety? What would be a little thing? Perhaps I stop cooking dinner? Do I stop working? Do I stop cleaning? No one could answer those questions. And so the cycle continued.
Until The Universe intervened and decided for me that the thing to let go was work. I had no choice, so I kept moving forward. And you know what? I started to feel better. And pretty soon, I started to feel really good.
Dare I say stress free?
|My family and our yearly crazy Christmas photos in front of the tree.
I think I look a little less stressed than previous years. 🙂
|A reminder to stand true to myself.
Original art from WorDSMITHstudios on Etsy.com
And by default, so was I. The Universe had handed me a gift. A blessing in disguise. For the first time in years, I was present while in the waiting room at the doctor’s office with my kid. I could listen to what he or she had to say. I could cook a meal I didn’t feel guilty about serving. I still hate cooking said meal, but at least my family wants to eat it now. I could pick up the house a little at a time to avoid walking into messes. That entire layer of stress I had been experiencing because I had no time, was gone.
And so here I am. 45 and STILL unemployed.
And everyday, I am here to say goodbye to my husband when he leaves for work. I am here to say goodbye to my daughter when she leaves for school. Some days she even says “bye” back. And everyday, I drop off and pick my son up from the bus. Some days, I pick him up after school and we go swimming at the YMCA. I hate the swimming part, but when we leave and he says, “That was fun.”
And so I will blog. Because I am unemployed.