Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Loss of a Job

I'm losing my job any day. It's not the first time it has happened to me but it's the first time that I have been seeking and have yet to find the opportunity that is the right fit for me. It's terrifying. I remember the first time that I lost my job as part of a radical downsizing, it was right around the aftermath of 9/11 when it was really hard to find a job. I spent an entire year looking only to settle on taking something which rendered me underemployed and that set me back SIGNIFICANTLY in income to work my way back up. I did, and I'm a better person, a better professional today having gone through that but I wouldn't wish it on anyone. At the time, I was a single mother and losing my income was a direct threat to my livelihood and the livelihood of my son who was very young then. It meant going without health insurance and living for what seemed like forever on unemployment income. That year, I couldn't put presents under the Christmas tree and I never told anyone that I actually got desperate enough to visit the food pantry on two occasions that year. It was a humbling experience.

Fast forward to 2016 and my company has filed for bankruptcy. I'm 16 years more experienced and confident in my abilities and what I bring to the table. I am now married, my son is grown, educated and no longer living at home. I have two step children, the youngest is 16. My husband and I have a mortgage and bills, just like any other family and while he makes a good living, my income is a significant contribution to our lifestyle.

It's amazing how much of my identity is tied to my career. I love what I do. A large part of me is defined by my career and my ability to contribute to my family's income. The thought of losing my job and being unable to contribute the way I do today to my family is really very terrifying. Why is that? Why is so much of my identity tied up in what I do for a living and why do I feel like less of a person without it? It's a fear I haven't really spoken to anyone about and I was floored the other day when my husband recognized my anxieties and without having to say anything at all to him, he said "don't worry, we'll get through this --- together." I needed him to say that so badly. Never in my life have I ever relied upon anyone for my wellbeing. I was always the one that provided it. I provided it to others in relationships and to my son while he was growing up. Here is this man who is my partner, willing to take care of me in this time of need. I know that is probably not surprising to any of you, husbands are supposed to do that after all but I've never counted on anyone in this way. It means everything to me. It's a scary, uncertain feeling but the fact that I can count on this other person is a concept so foreign to me. He makes me feel as though my worth to him doesn't change. He has confidence I'll be back on my feet before long and that confidence, that support is an expression so important to me that I can't describe it. Do I sound crazy? I'm a 47-year-old woman married to this man for 9 years. Why is the concept that I can really rely on him and count on him such a foreign and surprising concept to me? He's my husband. He's supported me through raising our three kids, supported me through the difficulties of life and been there through my struggles and my triumphs, why is this so different?