A few days ago I posted three sentences about how the company I was working for folded. I said I wasn't sure how I felt about it then, and I'm still not sure now, since this kind of strange grief is always evolving, but here are some thoughts.
Now for the thoughts:
I wasn't entirely happy in that job.
I was relieved to be laid off in the first place, because it meant I didn't have to go back to doing the things in the job description that I didn't like, but I had enough awareness to know that that was my knee-jerk reaction. For the record, there was stuff in my job description that I absolutely loved. Anyway, I knew I'd feel nervous and panicky about it at some point. About a week after the layoff, nervous and panicky and set in. For about three weeks afterwards, those two feelings devolved into a debilitating brand of despair, which I tried to fight off with obsessive job-hunting. That didn't work at all.
I was overtaken by worry that I'd never find a job "in this economy," and I became so focused on every résumé I sent out, every interview I went on, and every possibility I unearthed, that I was completely wound up all day, every day. And if I was rejected, I was inconsolable.
Dave (my husband), and I had a big talk about it about two weeks ago, and we agreed that I needed to be less consumed by how many résumés I sent out, and more focused on finding the right job. The talk was a relief, but the actual "being less consumed" part is something I have yet to figure out.
When my former supervisor called and told me the company had folded, I wasn't really surprised. A few of my friends have suggested that maybe I saw this coming, and maybe it's kind of a relief. Yes to both.
The company finances had been a huge challenge for some time, and try as they might, management weren't able to keep the company afloat. And they tried valiantly. As things disintegrated at work, I metaphorically looked over my shoulder all day long. One day, while I was still employed there, I just packed up all my personal belongings and took them home, based on a gut feeling I had. I kept on working there for a few weeks after doing that, but I knew it was only a matter of time before it was my turn to be laid off.
Trouble is, it was also lots of other people's turns to be laid off. In particular, I winced when I thought of the husband and wife who had been there since the beginning, but were now both out of work. How would they manage? They have kids . . . . My heart sank when I thought of all the single people who lost their jobs; these people had no partner to contribute a salary to help pay bills. *sigh* Another person I know suffered such a financial devastation that I can't even describe it here. I feel so much worry and concern for the others who have been laid off . . . I wonder what they will do. I sometimes have to push those thoughts out of my head so I don't become overwhelmed. I have my own family to care for.
It was really draining and demoralizing to work in the company and know that "the ship was taking on water." More than once I mentioned to Dave that every day at work, I felt like we were all rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. So when the layoff came, it meant an end to the apprehension and the anxiety. At least we had an answer. Management expressed hope that they'd be able to right the ship, but a few weeks later, the end came. (Lots of boat metaphors. That's all I can come up with right now.)
I feel drained, despondent, and a bit depressed. I try to console myself by remembering the good we did: simply by doing our jobs, my colleagues and I helped a veteran—who was living in a shelter with his wife and two children—get job training and a very well-paying job, and now that man is supporting his family. That is only one story. My company helped many, many others, too. That feels good. I don't think I've ever worked in a job that had such a direct positive impact on others.
Two days ago, Dave and I went grocery shopping, and right outside the entrance, there were two guys sitting at little tables, with coin cans and display placards requesting donations for veterans. We see this a lot. I turn away every time I go by one of those setups. The only thing I say to them if they ask me for money is "Sorry, not today." Then I keep walking.