Originally I thought this would purely be a travel blog, a record of where I’d been and what I’d done for my friends to read, and to be a bit of light entertainment. Somehow it has grown in to something more than that, something I’d never originally intended, its becoming a record of my personal reinvention after a difficult redundancy.
Being made redundant left me devastated. I’d always thought I was the “good” employee, trying hard to toe the corporate line and be a responsible person. I had a job I loved, believed in, was committed to and had recently finished doing further training for. I fully thought that I’d be there for a long time to come, contributing to my organisation and community. I had inspiration, ideas and initiative and the energy to bring them to fruition. However it was not to be, and the end was rapid and deeply unpleasant.
In the months following I went through a parade of emotions which I’m sure anyone going through something similar would recognize. I was furiously angry at the unfairness of it all, then fell into a funk of self recrimination. Why didn’t I see it coming? What if I’d done X, Y or Z differently? What was wrong with me? Then came the overwhelming grief.
It sucks being made redundant in your fifties. I’d had the legs knocked out from under me and my confidence was gone. Some of the experiences I’d gone through at my previous organisation had left me unable to face applying for new positions at my level. I just couldn’t face an interview panel, partly because of the inquisitorial nature of the process and partly because I still hadn’t forgiven myself. I did apply for a couple of jobs in my profession that I could have done with my hands tied behind my back but didn’t even get to the interview stage anyway. I had a strong feeling that my professional reputation was destroyed, even though there was no direct evidence of this. So I tried applying for junior level jobs – admin type stuff. Nothing. Self esteem at rock bottom. I felt fragile, raw and broken.
What to do? Running away seemed like a good idea. So we did. We went about as far as we possibly could, travelling to Europe and the UK via Dubai. And we stayed away for as long as we could at the time – 4 months. There was many a cafe table conversation in the sun to the tune of “if you were still at work we wouldn’t be doing this!” It felt wonderful, especially when imagining certain people still schlepping away back at the evil empire. I felt free, alive like I hadn’t for a long long time.
Coming home again was hard. The evil empire was a large employer in my small town, and often in the news. The CEO lived nearby and I had to pass his property whenever I went anywhere. Everywhere there were reminders that I still didn’t have a job, so I wasn’t a “real” person. Still at rock bottom.
I realized that I wasn’t going to get over this without some help, so about this time I got some therapy and that’s when I began to scrape myself back off the floor. The realization hit me, that no matter what, I did my best. I can now look back past the sadness and anger, with the knowledge that with every ounce of my being that I honestly did do my best, and with that knowledge came the beginnings of healing. It was only then that I could put the whole thing into perspective. Until that point I was tossing the situation around in my mind ceaselessly looking for reasons, and driving myself nuts. Friends and family kept telling me I needed to move on, and forget it but I just couldn’t until I could understand and gain that much needed perspective.
Just how I did that will be the topic of my next post……