Yesterday I lost my job.
Actually, it was a year ago yesterday, but I’ve remembered enough in the last twenty-four hours that it feels fresh. And I am grateful.
A year ago today I hadn’t slept. I’d stayed up all night in a daze of shock and heartache. I’d let my job become my life, and suddenly my job was gone.
Not just my job, but also my sense of purpose and my self-confidence and my pride, not to mention my financial security and my healthcare.
On top of that, I was struggling in my relationship, desperate for it to work and worried it wouldn’t. I didn’t think unemployment would help.
Merry Christmas, you’re fired.
I got “let go” the Monday after Christmas. It was unexpected.
I would love to tell you that I handled the situation with composure and dignity, but I think my reaction more closely resembled my post-election breakdown. I hope I never experience embarrassment like that again, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
So, no, I didn’t sleep that first night.
I gave myself permission to be a puddle, and I wallowed in it.
Self-care to the rescue
For the better part of a year, I had sidelined self-care. After plenty of practice (and preaching), I deeply understood the importance of hydration, rest, meditation, exercise, and nutrition.
And still, for most of 2015, all those things took a backseat to what you could generalize as people-pleasing:
Striving to show up the way I perceived others thought I should. Dismissing my own desires in favor of satisfying someone else’s. Trying to do things “right,” even though “right” was a moving target.
And then one day at the end of December, it all disappeared. No more pressure to stay late and work weekends and forgo vacation. No more impossibly subjective arguments and critiques, no more giving in to ideas I didn’t believe in, with or without a fight. Even my boyfriend was out of town.
Quite unexpectedly, I had my whole self to myself.
So I cried for a night, and then I cranked up the self-care.
The silver (screen) lining of unemployment
A year ago today, I took my sleep-deprived self to a morning matinee.
I did the same thing the next day, and also the day after.
It was both a loving and a practical thing to do. Loving, because, to me, going to the movies is the opposite of punishment. Practical, because having a showtime to show up for got me out of bed and out of the house. Plus, those a.m. movies felt like the lemonade of unemployment lemons.
Because you can’t go to morning matinees when you have a job.
When you have a job, you can’t treat yourself to a few hours away from the real world in the comfort of a dark theater on a cold winter day.
(Also when you don’t have a job, you need the discounted price of a morning matinee.)
Gratitude clears space for exquisite grace
I’m not saying a few movies made everything better. Losing my job (and my sense of purpose and my self-confidence and my pride and my financial security and my healthcare) still sucked.
But I was careful to keep things in perspective.
I could receive federal health coverage—which turned out to be better than what my employer had provided.
I was able to file for unemployment—not enough to cover my monthly expenses, but it was assurance I wouldn’t go hungry.
I had some savings—limited, sure, but more assurance I would be okay for a month or two.
I definitely wasn’t ready to listen to anyone tell me that “everything happens for a reason” or that “when a door closes another one opens.”
But I was nonetheless open to fresh understandings and opening doors.
“Such exquisite grace,” I wrote in my journal around that time, “to be able to stay grounded, loving, and present in the face of core fear and uncertainty.”
I gave thanks for all that I already had, and I trusted that things would work out.
Surprise! Things worked out.
A year later, life is good.
I can see how everything I learned at the job I lost prepared me to excel at the new job I found.
I find my work rewarding, but it does not define me. Instead, my commitment to self-care comes first.
Similarly, although my relationship didn’t last, the lessons I learned from it did. I still desire partnership, but not at the expense of my self-expression.
My devotion to inner connection allows me to be braver than I’ve ever been before. I can publicly share my experiences and ever-evolving viewpoints, and let go of the fear that others will judge me.
(That’s not to say I don’t get judged. Just that I don’t let the fear of judgment get in my way.)
Onward and upward, no matter what, amen
And while I can’t predict exactly where I’ll be a year from now, I can promise I’ll be staying true to myself and speaking up for what matters most—and I hope the same is true for you.
Love > fear,
p.s. If you are still crossing your fingers for #AYMBF, THANK YOU! I expect to have cool news I can share in early 2017.
p.p.s. Did you know that #thankyouthursday emails are different from these blog posts? They’re typically a bit more personal, candid, and behind-the-scenes-y (and they also include links to the blog). If that sounds appealing, sign up for weekly inbox hugs!