How You Can Celebrate A Job Loss

{he will never wear the yellow ones as the character that wears yellow dies very quickly}

 

This week my husband and I celebrate the one year anniversary of something we never thought we would celebrate, a job loss. He was a loyal employee working for 22 years for basically the same employer. Yes it was bought by a much larger company, but the transition felt seamless from the one company to the next. Making this loss even worse, it wasn’t for cause, it was simply a reduction in force or RIF as the insiders call it.
Rumors about layoffs always surrounded this company; we were use to it. But my husband just kept plugging away and doing his job telling me they didn’t have an impact on him. But this one was different. I started receiving messages from friends on the inside asking if my husband was worried, I naïvely said no. I messaged him and he agreed with me. And then I didn’t hear from him. I texted him about 10 times and I repeatedly called and there was no answer. He finally picked up the phone and told me he was in the meeting with the HR representative. I knew what that meant. I drove to his work and waited for him to walk out. I watched many people we knew all leaving with the same big white envelope stuck under their arm full of legal documents and benefit explanations. These were all people he had worked with for the past 20 years. These were all people in their late forties and fifties. I felt like I was watching some kind of sick joke.
We came home and hugged. We didn’t cry. We did a quick scan of the paper work and cleaned out a junk drawer. You see, when life throws you a curve ball, you organize. Or at least that is what we did. Having control over something felt good. Clearing out the physical also clears out the metaphysical.
He then made some very difficult phone calls, he called our two oldest boys in college. I was proud of my husband as he reassured our kids that we were going to be OK. I silently prayed that we had continuation of great health insurance. Our middle son has a chronic illness that requires medication that costs $5,000 a month. That uncertainty scared me.
But then we made a plan. I took headshots of him for his LinkedIn profile which he started to update. I contacted everyone I knew within the tech field. If you say Facebook is a waste of time, I will call you a liar. The connections that Facebook created for me allowed me instant access to people! I messaged those people.

My husband wrote a beautiful goodbye email to everyone he worked with over the last 22 years. We were driving together when the replies started flooding in. He asked me to start reading them. I had to stop. They were too much as I began sobbing in the car. I chocked out the words that I couldn’t read anymore as I was crying too much. He told me that I wasn’t the only one who was crying. According to researcher Brené Brown, Ph.D. society tells our men that they are not allowed to be vulnerable or weak. At that point in the car, he was both vulnerable and weak and I couldn’t have loved him more!
The emails reminded him that the people he had worked for cared about him and that he made a difference. He needed to hear that. Self doubt and vulnerability is the battle that we faced during this time. I say “we” as this truly was something we went through together. I put my career as a lawyer on the back burner to raise our children while he became our primary bread winner. When this company let him go, they let me go to.
But I am a force to be reckoned with and my husband was an honorable man and we made a power team. I became the project manager of his life 24/7. I joke that we were joined at the hip during this time. Decisions were made from a place of love. We didn’t allow people to pity us and we told them so. We asked for our friends to be excited for us. I had friends praying for us! A goal date of securing employment by January 15 was set. We decided that we would not make financial changes in our lifestyle for the first 60 days. A family vacation that was scheduled in 80 days we decided to keep. We focused on projects around the home while he searched for a job. I always wanted hardwood floors and a finished garage. My husband laid the most beautiful floor you have ever seen. He did meticulous research, just like he did at his previous job.

My husband had one goal in mind, and that was to stay living in Fargo. Our youngest had three years left in school and he wanted him to finish. We worked out scenarios where I would stay in Fargo and he would get an apartment where his new job took him. But then I got a Facebook message from a friend whose company had the exact job opening we were looking for.
A few weeks before this job opening, this same company had a conference in town that was open to the public. They had a speaker talking about the importance of having tech companies with user experience designers. My husband went and had a conversation with the speaker and he also had a conversation with the head of the company. A seed was planted.
Then the interview process began. And there were several interviews. Each time my husband wore funky socks. And I ordered more socks as more interviews were scheduled! Call us superstitious. At his first interview 22 years ago he wore dress socks and the people interviewing him noticed. While other computer geeks wore white sweat socks, my husband wore dress socks. Clearly there are benefits to being married to me! Oh and that goal of securing employment by January 15 was not met, as they hired him earlier and wanted him to start December 1. We were OK with missing that goal!

As we approach the one year I look back at what a gift being let go was. The fear of the constant rumors of layoffs is gone. My husband and I spent so much quality time with each other it could have broken some marriages. I pushed him with deadlines of having the home projects done and he pushed back. We went to matinees during the week. Grocery shopping was a fun activity we did together in the middle of the day. We took a relaxing trip together with his sudden new found time off, a trip looking at leaves on the east coast. Or as I like to call it, “where is the next Dunkin Donuts so I can go to the bathroom” trip! Oh and my fear of losing health insurance coverage went away as we were no longer tied to the golden handcuffs.

My husband has come full circle now working for a company backed by the same person who he came to work for 22 years ago. It feels like he is back home as my husband is surrounded by many coworkers from his previous employer. And the best part of all, my husbands new coworkers value him. He now comes home with stories of his self confidence being built up in ways that he has never seen. And on the bad days, people come to his desk for a shot of tequila that he keeps at his desk along with some chocolate. Because frustrating things happen at work but sometimes tequila and chocolate make it better.
To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

MS. Simplicity

Melissa is a Productivity Consultant living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things!