Day 52: Finding the Feelings

Well, hello there, emotions.

Unemployment day 3 was yesterday. I knew the feeling of shock and numbness about being laid off would give way to Big Feelings at some point. However, the full comprehension of this circumstance, of being laid off, unemployed, not knowing when or where I will next find work, did not hit me out of nowhere and send me into a fit of cataclysmic despair as I feared it might.

No, it was rather the opposite. The comprehension hit me, but with it came…

Rage. After 14 years, I was let go with hardly even a “thank you,” and I’m furious.

Legally, the company has met all their obligations. Ideally, however, they would be in a financial position to be able to do more for the folks they’re letting go. Since they are not, the alternate ideal would be some sort of apology, some acknowledgement that I deserve far better than I am currently getting.

That did not happen, is probably unlikely to ever happen, and it makes me mad.

The trigger for suddenly feeling the Big Feelings now was talking to my now ex-boss on the phone for a bit yesterday. As a reminder, he also was let go. We had not been in touch since saying a rushed goodbye on Tuesday, after I finished packing up my office and while he was still in the midst of boxing up his possessions.

I learned he was let go in the exact same thankless manner I was, and suddenly, there were all my Big Feelings.

I’d hoped they would have treated him slightly better than me, given that he was upper management and had been working there so many years longer than me.

Alas, this is not the case. They kicked him to the curb fairly cruelly, as well.

He does not have Big Feelings about this. I do, though. It’s immature and petulant, but inside I am definitely stomping my foot and shouting, “But that’s not FAIR!”

According to the current company-protecting and employee-ignoring laws that exist, though, it’s completely allowable. We have no rights.

There is no obligation for companies to let employees go in a manner that protects the employee financially for some duration, and thus provides opportunity to conduct a new job search. The company tells the employee they must now rely on public assistance.

Simultaneously, public assistance programs continue to be cut, while company protections and tax breaks continue to be strengthened.

It’s true that unemployment insurance claims can be made by the ex-employee and will be paid by the government, but the amount is minimal. In my case, the amount will cover my (thankfully) relatively low mortgage payments and my utility bills. It will not be enough for health insurance, co-payment if I must see a doctor, filling any of my medical prescriptions, groceries, gas, car insurance, and so on.

Unless a person has a fair amount in savings, which we know the vast majority of people are unable to do, they’re unlikely to be able to keep themselves afloat after a layoff. And an employee knows this, so finding a job quickly becomes of utmost importance. Because of this, there’s less likelihood of the person feeling they are in a position to be choosy. Which then means another company with policies that do not adequately protect employees will continue to be able to find people willing to work for them without much issue.

THIS, all of this, is part of why I am a proud Democrat. An unregulated marketplace benefits employers and leaves employees hung out to dry. Without a legal obligation to provide ample notice of termination and to continue a salary throughout that duration, companies will decide their financial obligations reside elsewhere.

I don’t have high hopes of ever working with my boss again. I see us going down our separate roads from the point on. We had a nice chat yesterday, though, and we’ll probably meet up for coffee sometime over the next few weeks.

As for me and my anger, now that I’ve written all this and have gotten it out of my system, I’m feeling a lot better. There is an election coming up in November. As is the case in all elections, I will vote for the candidate who works to protect people, not companies.

Today, though, I’ll relax a little. It’s Saturday. Although I feel as though the world is falling down and I need to get every item on my to-do lists done immediately, I’m going to force myself to unwind.

Maybe if my mind lets go a bit I’ll feel better able to get organized. I have lists created but don’t have a clear vision of what subtasks are involved in checking off each individual item, and allowing myself to hit pause might help with that a little.

I need to tap into my creative side and that’s hard to do when I’m in an emotionally locked down, purely analytical headspace.

Thus, my to-do list for today is very simple. Go to the gym. Take a look at my budget and find fat I can trim. Read or watch a movie. Perhaps, find a guided meditation on YouTube or Spotify. Calm my brain and try to get the whirling, panicked thoughts to stop spinning around me, just beyond me reach, and pull them towards me so I might be able to do something productive with them.

Yesterday, I decided to get out of my house and take a walk around my neighborhood. This is not something I’ve done before, and it was marvelous. The sky was the crisp early spring blue one only sees at this time of year. People’s gardens are showing signs of life. Birds were singing sweet songs.

It was beautiful, and peaceful, and I’m glad I did it.

As I walked, something became clear to me. It was a sign. I saw it clear as day.

The sign told me to believe in myself.

I don’t mean this in a figurative way. I don’t mean I was filled with a feeling, a deep inner untapped knowledge.

No, I mean I quite literally saw a sign. It appeared in front of me, a lawn sign posted in a front yard, suddenly visible as I rounded a corner.

And it said, “Believe in Yourself.”

I don’t know who the neighbor is who set it up, but I am sending feelings of gratitude their way. Yes, thank you, kind neighbor. I shall do just that.

I believe in myself.

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