Friday, July 27, 2012

What Being Unemployed Taught Me

Is it really July 27th?

Wow. I almost missed my two-year anniversary of being unemployed. On July 27, 2010, I was "let go" by my former employer.

Who celebrates their unemployment anniversary? you might be asking. I do. Why? Because, for better or worse, losing my job awakened me to the person I was meant to become. What follows is a mix of humor, sadness, realism, and revelation. Here's how things rolled out to get me where I am today:
  1. On July 27, 2010, I was called in to my boss's office and was told they were letting me go.
  3. I had seen it coming, so I had already cleaned out my desk and cleaned up my files. I gathered my things, went to the parking garage, called my hubs, and said, "Well, I'm unemployed."
  4. The first couple of weeks things were great. I had a hefty severence, and I felt I'd have no trouble finding a new job.
  5. I was wrong.
  6. Got a contract job. Got deathly sick because the guy I worked for refused to stop wearing cologne despite my ongoing asthma attacks in reaction to it.
  7. Lost the contract job. Was sick for a month with extreme respiratory distress and fever. 
  8. Got another contract job.
  9. While running an errand for new job, a woman ran a red light and T-boned my car, sending me spinning through an intersection into oncoming traffic and then up onto the curb and into a light post. (The woman said, "Well, your light was turning yellow," as her reason for running the light. Um, that means your light was red, lady. Red = stop. You didn't do that).
  10. Ouch! Chiropractor and auto repair shop, wherefore art thou?
  11. The day after the accident, I was informed by my boss that they were going to hire from within the organization to replace me since I was only a temp.
  12. Depression begins to sink in.
  13. The day before my last day at my temp job, I found out my mom had taken a turn for the worse at the hospice and only had days or even hours to live.
  14. October 29 - Happy birthday to me. Urgh.
  15. Job ended (this was the beginning of November) and I spent as much time as I could by my mom's side. The first day or so she could talk a little. Then she could only communicate by blinking. The last couple of days, she no longer communicated at all.
  16. My mom hung on longer than expected, but on November 7, 2010, my mom passed away.
  17. I'm feeling beaten down. I've decided not to even look for a job for the remainder of the year at this point.
  18. Spent the following two weeks going through my mom's things. Cried a lot.
  19. The day before my mom's Celebration of Life ceremony, a plumbing nightmare of Godzilla proportions erupted in our house.
  20. Hello Niagara Falls.
  21. Calgon, take me away (if only I could take a bath)
  22. Got through my mom's final farewell ceremony and remembered her fondly.
  23. Plumbers, plumbers everywhere!
  24. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Happy New Year! Here's to a better 2011.
  25. Unemployment benefits begin.
  26. I begin writing Rise of the Fallen in roleplay format on Facebook, posting it on a fan page.
  27. Micah and I - we be tight with one another. Depressed, emotionally spent, and ready to jump. That's the two of us in a nutshell.
  28. I start seeing a therapist for my depression.
  29. I'm crying a lot. A LOT!
  30. Fetal position on the bed. Yep, that's me.
  31. Did I mention crying?
  32. Lots of trips to the unemployment office to attend classes, networking, and career testing. Yes, I cry while I'm there. I'm just sitting there crying, feeling demoralized and like I've somehow failed.
  33. Had a temp agency play under-handed dirty pool by going into a company I had an interview with through a different temp agency and ended up screwing me out of the job. I arrived for my interview and was told to leave immediately. I had no idea what had happened until I called my agency, who promptly dropped me for the other agency's actions.
  34. My faith in humanity is shaken.
  35. I can't do anything without crying. Dishes, laundry, grocery shopping...breathing...yeah, the simple things.
  36. Sign up for state-funded classes in medical records management while taking a medical transcription course.
  37. Micah and I get closer to one another as his story begins to take shape. He makes me cry. Surprise surprise.
  38. Catharsis begins to take place through writing Micah's story.
  39. Classes start in May, 2011.
  40. I'm writing, studying, and continuing to search for a job that just isn't there.
  41. I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  42. Hope it's not a freight train coming my way (shameless Metallica plug).
  43. Study, write, study, write. And where are the damn jobs?
  44. Dread Sundays when I have to enter my unemployment info online.
  45. Become a certified medical records specialist by end of 2011.
  46. Lose faith in the job market. Because even with my new education and a year-and-a-half of searching, there are no jobs in sight. I can't even get a nibble.
  47. I guess it was a freight train instead of a light.
  48. Happy New Year. 2012 begins on a low note. I'm crying again. A whole year of crying. Woo-hoo! Mom would be proud.
  49. I'm shocked I have any tears left. Didn't God dish out an annual tear quota when he made me?
  50. First week of January, I'm at Whole Foods at 8:00 A.M., facing a decision. I received a call for a "group interview" for a job that makes me physically ill when I think about working there. What do I do? Do I go or pass on it?
  51. With tears in my eyes as I'm walking out of Whole Foods, I ask God for a sign. Do I write books or do I go to the interview? Yeah, I'm crying. Again.
  52. By the end of the day, I have received six major signs that make it clear I'm supposed to stay home and write.
  53. Within two weeks, the first draft of Rise of the Fallen is finished.
  54. On March 24, Rise of the Fallen is published.
  55. I receive word my unemployment benefits will end early and by June I will no longer be eligible to receive benefits.
  56. MAJOR SPEED BUMP. Panic sets in. I had counted on my benefits running to the end of 2012.
  57. Shift gears to get Heart of the Warrior out earlier so I can hopefully generate enough income to live off of so we don't lose our house.
  58. Quite by coincidence, the week before my unemployment benefits run out (early May, 2012), a good friend and former boss contacts me to inquire if I know anyone who would like a temporary job writing and formatting documents at the company where I used to work with him.
  59. Ha ha ha! Slick move, John. You knew I'd want the job.
  60. May 24, 2012, Heart of the Warrior is released.
  61. Unemployment benefits run out.
  62. Start new temporary job.
  63. Despite hitting a few bumps as I adjust to working a M-F 8:00-5:00 job into my writing regimen, I'm happy again, albeit trepidatiously.
  64. In a revelatory moment, wonders if everyone can now see why I don't give a flip about Matthew Darringer (or however you spell his name). I've got my own problems and kinda see him as small potatoes after almost two years of Hell on Earth. I really don't have the extra energy or desire to give a shit about him given the dark hole of oppression I've just worked myself out of, and I can't afford to be dragged back down into it when I'm still a bit fragile myself.
So, what did I learn? What did my stint with unemployment teach me?
  1. I am a phoenix. I can burn into cinders and rise from the ashes a stronger, smarter, and more capable version of myself. This is why I named my publishing company Phoenix Press.
  2. Everything happens for a reason. Losing my job and being unable to find a new one forced me to face my fear of putting my writing out in front of the world. In doing so, I am now able to do what it is I love and make money doing it. Even if I didn't have this temporary gig with my friend's company, I would be making enough money on my writing to just barely get by, and there's nowhere to go but up, so yay for small victories and baby steps.
  3. Speaking of the temporary job, I've learned that God or whatever higher power is up there does send us what we need when we need it. Worrying gets us nowhere. We have all that we need to get by in the moment. Trust in that. I mean, I went almost two years without finding a job, and out of nowhere and totally unsolicited, I get a call from the only person I would ever consider working for again. If that's not Fate, I don't know what is.
  4. I need to trust my inner voices that lead me. In the past two years, they have not led me astray.
  5. No matter how bad it gets, it does get better and I will not die from it. I'm a survivor. It's true: What doesn't kill me does make me stronger.
  6. Did I mention that everything happens for a reason? Instead of fighting Fate, I should accept what that bitch gave me and I'll be a lot happier and will move on more quickly. Fighting the cards I've been dealt only makes it hurt more and last longer. In fact, I should thank Fate and not call her a bitch. She knows what I need better than I do.
  7. No matter how bad it gets, I can still laugh at myself and find humor and love in every situation, even if it takes me a while to find it. That's what gets me through and gives me hope.
  8. There are more important things to worry about than what this guy said about that one. A LOT more important things. I've learned that one the hard way. When you worry about whether or not you're going to lose your house or have food to eat, it kinda puts things into perspective. So go ahead and cuss my name. I've been through worse.
  9. Most importantly: By losing my job, I found myself.
May your tomorrow be brighter than today, and happy two-year anniversary to me! I'm ready to face another year of self-discovery.

Happy reading and writing!


1 comment:

  1. Hello Donya; Saying that someone in Spirit cares about you and gives you the chance to make a new start when you are struggling as I am at present being unemployed is a real blessing. I need at present something to make me believe that my present wretched situation will improve and your article has perhaps done just that. Bless you and may the Angels keep you safe. Tony.