Oh boy. If you follow me on social media then you already know what this post is going to be about. Pain, sadness, stress, etc. I’m dealing with it all. Two weeks ago I had the rug ripped out from under me in the form of being laid off from my job. It was a surprise and particularly devastating for a few reasons: I am currently the breadwinner in my home, I really did love my job, and it provided us with financial stability. Fer is in school to become a firefighter and is only working part time. You can imagine my shock and surprise when I got the phone call saying I was no longer employed - effective immediately. My first reaction was anger and “oh fuck.” How are we going to pay the bills? How will we continue to pay for Fer’s schooling? What will I do for work now? Once again my life felt unmanageable and out of control.
I could barely talk on the phone to the HR lady as she went through the professional motions of telling me what would happen to my health insurance, what payments I could expect and when to file for unemployment. Choking back the tears was my main priority and getting off the phone as soon as possible was the second. As soon as the phone call was over I collapsed in a puddle of tears. My mind automatically went to that dark place, thinking about drinking. This may come as a surprise to some people, but yes even at 4 years sober, difficulties in life can still make me wish I could drink. I hadn’t felt that way since the election results of 2016. An emotional place of hopelessness, fear, and wanting so badly to get my mind out of that very moment.
But I want to make clear the difference between thinking about drinking and wishing I could drink. I didn’t want to drink in that moment and I didn’t, but I wished so badly that I had that luxury, the luxury people have to numb, to take themselves out of the present moment, to forget about everything even for just a few seconds. It was my coping mechanism for so many years. I knew I couldn’t and that fact made me angrier. Going to the gym didn’t seem feasible because I knew once people asked me what was wrong I wouldn’t be able to talk without crying my eyes out. So, I went to the beach. Alone. I cried on the beach. I let the salt water wash away my tears and my pain. I sat and listened to the waves. I raged. I raged at the universe about how unfair it was. The horrible timing. The fact that I was the best person to do that job and actually enjoyed it.
Since the day I got laid off my mind has been racing. My emotions have been up and down and all over the place. It has been incredibly hard, more difficult than I ever thought losing a job would be. I have quit many a job. I have left toxic work environments. I was laid off once before from a great writing job in Cancun, but the atmosphere was sick, and my boss and I were both in active addiction. I coped by drinking and using and quickly found another gig. This is the first time I’ve ever been laid off from a full-time job with benefits while I’ve had adult bills to pay - a mortgage, a car loan, health insurance, credit card bills, etc. People have told me their own stories of being laid off and I know it happens to everyone at least once in their lifetime, if not more. In fact, being so impacted by this loss has created a new dynamic of negative self-talk for me. Inside I’ve been beating myself up for feeling so upset by this. I feel like I should be over it by now. I feel like I should feel relieved and move on to the next thing. I feel silly for even shedding a tear about this almost two weeks later. I wake up in the morning feeling happy, only to be confronted by the dark cloud of unemployment looming over my head. I’m sure anyone who’s been on the desperate search for a job while the due dates for their bills creep closer can relate. It’s hard to relax at all. It’s hard to think of much else. It’s hard to stay positive, to think the universe has something better in store for me when I’m unsure if I’ll be able to pay my mortgage this month.
What is it about one small bump in the road that makes us question everything? I have been questioning my life path, my career, my retirement, and my choice to have children in the future all because of one job layoff. Over these last two weeks, I have received a plethora of advice. One thing people always say is your identity and your worth are not tied to your job. And while I know these facts, unfortunately, we live in a society where our job is our livelihood. We live in a country where you don’t get to take care of your health unless you have a full-time job. You get called lazy if you don’t have a job and if you receive government assistance you’re looked at like you’re not picking yourself up by your bootstraps.
For me this layoff made me question my worth as an employee. Is what I do important enough? Do I have enough skills? Am I making enough of a difference? Do I work hard enough? Is this the path I want to take in life?
I have taken a step back and I am committing to showing myself compassion. The first thing I did was share my pain and the response has been overwhelming. I am grateful that I have a support system through family, friends and my blog, where when I share what I’m going through people listen, offer advice and help and just grieve with me in the moment. I don’t have to act like sobriety is happiness and normalcy 100 percent of the time. We go through shit. We feel like shit. And sometimes we think about drinking. At the very least, sharing my pain lightens the load I’m carrying and that makes me feel like I can push forward and rise to this occasion.