Spent some time reviewing my old posts and came across one titled “The Beginning. Again.” It was written during a time of great transition that entailed a cross-country move and then some. And it lasted for about 2 1/2 years until the organization I was working for ran out of money and downsized me. I’ve never been laid off for any reason and even though I had no control over the financial health (or lack thereof) of the organization, I took at as a personal failure. Because that’s what I do. It’s part of being a
control fiend normal person with some minor control issues. You take responsibility for everyone and everything.
When I first lost my job, I thought this is great. I now have time to write. I will be a writer. And I convinced myself I would. I even convinced a good friend of mine that I would–so much so that he offered his office space for me to write in. It was set then. I would write.
Except that I didn’t account for all the feelings that would surface once I no longer had a place to report to every morning and a team to strategize with and, let’s face it, a salary that keeps the lights on and the macbook running. Feelings like was there ever a bigger loser on the face of the planet? Who will hire me at this age? And what will my family, friends, distant relatives, and Facebook friends think of me now that I am unemployed and probably unemployable. I guess they were questions more than feelings.
Whatever they were, they made it impossible to do the one thing I really wanted to do. Write. Because once my work world turned upside down the rest of my life soon followed and I found I could not get a single word on the page in that face-down state. For a few weeks I slept in and “looked for work” in the afternoons. By which I mean I stayed in my pajamas all day and browsed through pinterest images having to do with work-related things. Home office. Created a page for that. Life@work tag. Check. If I could not recreate my real life, I would at least assemble something presentable online.
But when my pinterest job search didn’t result in any prospects, I filed for unemployment. At least I would have some income. Rather than feeling relief, I realized that there was no denying it–I was a statistic. Officially unemployed. Jobless. And because I had to fill out a form every other week that asked if I had looked for actual work, I started looking. For real this time.
Which was not nearly as gratifying as pinning pretty images on a page.
And soon the emails started coming in. Oh, not the offers. Nope. The sorry but we have decided to go with another candidate emails. And of course I filled in the blanks–We have decided to go with another candidate because you are not qualified enough, not educated enough, not charming enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough. And some days you can’t even bother to put on real clothing.
And as if I didn’t have enough issues being unemployed, my spiritual life started withering. If no potential employer would care enough even to meet with me for an initial interview, what must God think of me. He must think I’m a total loser. I am the biggest disappointment in the history of God’s kingdom. Can you even think of one person in all of the Bible who was ever unemployed? The only scripture that comes to mind was the one that says if a man doesn’t work, he shouldn’t eat. Comforting.
You would pretty much think I hit rock bottom at that point. But no. I will not settle for some mediocre bottom. I had to plummet further.
At some point, shortly after my unemployment ran out, I began to panic. Not as in nervous about money. As in full-blown anxiety attacks that sent me to the hospital. The first time it happened, I had no idea what was going on. It was the middle of the night and I woke up feeling weird. Soon I felt really weird. Then I passed out and ended up lying in a back room of the ER for about 4 hours. Apparently nothing was wrong with me. Except that everything was wrong with me.
Overnight I went from unemployed loser to complete wreck. At any given moment my mind and body would conspire against me to produce a heart-pounding terror that made my thoughts go dark and my arms go numb. I could not pray during that time. I could only think I must be dying. Often the sensations would last for a couple hours. And when it got really bad, I would go back to the hospital. Oh–and did I mentioned my health insurance had run out by this time?
I spent about a year in that condition. I wish I could say that I have perspective now. That I can see how God used the whole experience for my good. Intellectually, I know that to be true–but only because He says its true. But the true truth is, it doesn’t feel true. It feels like He abandoned me. And I wish I could say that all things have been restored and I live in a bigger better house and drive a bigger better car. But I don’t. I live in a much smaller condo/apartment and I drive the same car, only now it has a lot more miles on it. Oh, and I owe like a gazillion dollars in medical bills.
The one thing I can say is that I wake up every day extremely grateful for my little place and for my still reliable car. I wake up grateful for my job and even though I don’t make a ton of money, I wake up grateful that I am able to keep the lights on. And I wake up grateful that my mind and body are not warring against me.
Maybe someday I’ll have a dramatic restoration story. But right now, I don’t and I don’t really care. I don’t care about having a bigger house or shinier car or more stuff. I care that somehow by the sheer grace of God (who I’m still a little bit mad at, but don’t say anything), I was able to begin. Again. And yet again.
And maybe someday I’ll start writing.