Posted by: Kate | November 14, 2008

I Just Lost My Job

Laid off, but with no immediate plans to rehire.

No health insurance after 11/30.

Checks for the current pay period, accrued vacation, and one extra week.

Least senior member of the department.  Never a single accusation of unethical behavior, never a single – not one – client complaint, in two and a half years in Emergency Services, which is unheard of.  People get pissed and complain, especially in times of crisis.  But not about me, not about my work.

So as the least senior member, I’m out.  The coworker who was transferred and promoted out of the department is being brought back to Emergency Services, and two other part-time employees are losing their positions.  Someday I will take some comfort in knowing that the one who had been embezzling funds has also lost her jobs, both her position with Emergency Services and her position as a manager in another department.  Right now there’s no satisfaction in that.

My supervisor told me in the presence of the Human Resources Manager, and then immediately ushered me out of the office.  She couldn’t be bothered to walk me all the way out of the building – just up to the corner of the hallway and, “I’ll be in touch.”

Enough clients walk out of a mental health clinic in tears that no one noticed me.

I felt like a loser when I walked away from my doctorate.  Felt like I had failed myself and my family by not seeing the bigger picture, not being able to figure out a way to keep my family together and pursue my career goals – but I don’t regret that.  I don’t regret choosing my family over my profession, cannot regret deciding that my children needed me at home more than an internship site needed me for 60 hours a week.  Cannot regret putting my marriage before my own academic plans.

Taking this job was agonizing.  I didn’t want to work out of the home, I didn’t want to accept a master’s level position when I was that fucking close to a doctorate.  But we needed regular income, needed health insurance, and so I took it.  And I fell in love with it.

Not with the office, not with the coworkers.  Not ever.

But the patients.  The clients.  Such broken and anguished souls, so goddamn brave to walk into the hospital instead of following through with their thoughts of death, suicide, escape.  Such a privelege to be allowed into their lives at that moment.  I thanked every one for talking with me, and I hope that at least a few knew that I actually meant it: not just a casual polite sign-of, but honest gratitude.  “Thank you for giving me this little piece of yourself.”

And now instead of gleefully envisioning an abrupt “I quit” after reaching a certain point in pregnancy, I’m just done.  Five weeks before Christmas, kids who need food and health insurance, a husband who is just as close to his doctorate as I once was to mine.

There might be a better word for how I’m feeling right now than “failure,” but I can’t come up with it.

I shouldn’t publish this.  It’s too disjointed, too hurt.  But it’s real and now and if I can’t spew somewhere I’m going to break inside.



  1. I’m so sorry to hear this.

    I’m currently in a PhD, having had to decide after 4 years to completely change research projects, supervisors and disciplines. I’m on year 6 in a PhD. Funding runs out next September. My father just told me last weekend “I’m not seeing any progress towards the PhD. Why don’t you drop out and become a productive member of society?”. It’s so incredibly hard.

    You can’t look back on the decisions about school. You made the right decision for you and your family with the information you had at the time. You went into this with the best of intentions.

    I’m hoping something works out, I wish nothing but the best for you.

    If they’ve laid off people, who is going to offer the services you used to perform? I would think that in the current environment your services would be even more necessary.

  2. I’m so sorry. It’s obvious from reading your blog that your absence will be a terrible loss for suffering people.

    I’m sure you’ve thought of these things, but could one of the other hospitals take you on? A suicide hotline? A position with the police as a consultant? A position helping students at your husband’s university?

  3. Oh gosh, Kate, that sucks big hairy balls. I hope things work out the best way they possibly can. Big hugs!!

  4. Kate – I’m so sorry. My heart is breaking for you. You are such a wonderful and smart person, I just know you will find something quickly… it may not be perfect… it only needs to be “good enough” for now. I wish I lived closer – I just want to give you a hug. But, you know, I’m only an email away. {{{HUGS}}}

  5. I am so sorry, Kate.

    ((((BIG HUG)))))

  6. Well, in my book, anyone who makes the hard choices you have and who has put her family above all else could never be called a failure. It just doesn’t meet the measure.

    I’m really sorry this happened to you and that you’re now in a big pinch. I hope some resolution comes sooner than later.

  7. That totally sucks, Kate.

    Right now I’m hoping that whomever thought seniority was more important that the quality of one’s work has a really huge, inflamed hemorrhoid right about now.


  8. Oh, and it’s not your failure, it’s t heirs. Their mis-management caused the shortage of funds, not you.

    I know you’ll land on your feet. Wish I could say the same for the souls you won’t be there to help.

  9. I’m so sorry 😦 I’m not a religious person but I am a firm believer that everything does happen for a reason. Who knows…maybe tomorrow Ed McMahon will come knocking on your door! (Except instead of giving you a check, he might hit you up for money!)

    All jokes aside…your family are in my thoughts. And I feel for the needy people who won’t be able to see you in the hospital anymore. 😦

    Big hugs!!

  10. AGH! I’m so so sorry. There’s going to be an enormous Kate-shaped hole in that department now – it’s so clear from your blog what an asset you were to them and how talented you are at what you do. I know you’ll find something where you’re valued as you deserve, though. In the meantime though, this must totally suck. Take care…

  11. I’m so sorry. I wish agencies didn’t use the last in/first out model. I wish they used the good at your job model. You were wonderful as a grad student, wonderful as a crisis team member, are wonderful as a wife, wonderful as a mother and will be wonderful as whatever the universe provides you with next.

    This economy sucks.

  12. Kate – I am so sorry to hear that. You seemed like such an assent to your employer. Your the second person this week I know who was laid off.

  13. I’m so so so very sorry. For the job loss, the bad timing, the stress, the no more insurance conundrum, the shaking up of the world.

    Those people you help so much… I’m sorry for them too that you won’t be there to pull them out of their dark dark places. It’s tragic that you’re the one to be let go.


  14. Oh, Kate! I’m so sorry. This just sucks, no matter which way you look at it. Say the word and we’ll help in any way we can.

  15. Oh, Kate, how awful. I’m so sorry to hear this. Being laid off sucks and is demoralizing, but you’re obviously amazing at what you do and definitely NOT a failure. I hope some other hospital snatches you up immediately.

  16. Kate, I am so sorry you are going through this. I went through a very similar thing about ten years ago, and it sucked. I remember leaving my office and going to Jiffy Lube to get my oil changed because “I have plenty of time and nothing else to do.”

    It ended up being one of the most difficult times in my life, and one of the best things to ever happen to me.

    COBRA is hugely expensive, but it may be an insurance option to tide you over. I sincerely hope that this slamming door means a great one is opening for you.

  17. I am so very sorry. What about the clients? Seems their needs come last with this decision. How is the heavy caseload going to be handled? Any chance of independent contract work or consulting?

    I think it’s time to redefine failure. You failed to put your family second. How is that a bad thing, again? I hope you can get that massage this weekend.

  18. Oh no, what a shock! I’m so sorry. Take the weekend and hibernate. I fervently hope something good will come your way soon, and I bet it will.

  19. Wow, Kate. I’m really sorry to hear that. In reading all your blogs that reference work, I always assumed you were well up the seniority chain.

    Good luck on the job search. I hope you’re able to land something soon.

  20. Oh shit.

    I’m so sorry– it’s not fair, it’s not right, it just plain sucks.

  21. Oh no, Kate, I am so sorry. It’s clear you cared so much about the work and the people you helped. It may seem crushing right now, but you and Willem will be able to sort things out one way or another.

  22. Oh, hugs. No words of wisdom, but I’m really sorry.

  23. Not fair! Not fair at all!
    Platitudes don’t help much but from what I know of you, it is their loss, even though you’re feeling it now. This is an unexpected bend in the road, but I know you’ll get through. *hug*

  24. I’m oh so very sorry! I think the wind has just been knocked out of me from your news. In no way are you a failure, your entire community has benefitted from your services and now they will hurt because you are not there. I hope great things head your way NOW!! Big hugs.

  25. Damn it.

    You poor thing.

    I feel for you, very deeply. My heart hurts for you. I don’t know what else to say, so just know I’m thinking of you.

    (I’m offline for at least a week after this, so if you e-mail me and I don’t reply, that’s why.)

  26. Oh, shit… Wrong, wrong, wrong. My heart goes out to you. I don’t know you other than through this crazy blog world, but I know well enough that you have strength and stamina and character and wisdom. And you will prevail.

    Sending you a chocolate-covered virtual hug, as it’s all I can think of.

  27. Taking a deep breath for (and with you). Put simply? It SUCKS.

    I’m always around if you need to vent.

  28. Oh honey. I’m so sorry. I have no words of wisdom – just know that I’m thinking of you.

  29. That just sucks, no two ways about it. I’m keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

  30. Came over by way of Mel – I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through this. You sound as if you truly enjoyed your job and the people (patients/clients?) you worked with. In the course of this job, perhaps you discovered a strength you didn’t know you had. And it may just come in useful in your next job incarnation. Things work out. Not always the way you think they will or even hope they will, but they do work out. Keep the faith. In yourself. In your family. In your life. I’ll be sending positive thoughts your way.

  31. CRAP CRAP CRAP!!! I am so sorry Kate! I wish there was something I could do or say to make it all better and go away. Let me know if there is anything.

  32. I am so sorry this happened to you, at this time, during the holidays. I would trust that whatever force pulled you into the work force will see fit to cover you while you are out of it.

    Good thoughts.


  33. This is so horrible! I have no words, just send good vibes for another door to open really, really fast!

  34. Hope you are feeling a little better today 🙂

  35. Oh Kate. I’m sorry.

  36. Oh Kate – that is so shitty. Worse time of the year for them to pull this crap. I hope another opportunity opens quickly for you! I am sending all my best positive vibes your way.

  37. Oh Kate. I’ve just come back from a lovely weekend away and this is the second piece of bad news. Why? What happened? I’ve been ‘laid off’ before and it is very demoralising I feel so much for you right now and wish you were closer.

  38. Not sure how to respond, I usually would inject some sort of sarcasm or humor but that doesn’t seem like the best option here. Although I know that it does indeed suck big hairy balls. Perhaps this could be a catalyst for something bigger and better. Fester for a bit and then, when you’re ready hit up a grand new scheme. I’m available should you need anything. (anything)

  39. […] For the past 22 days, I have not been well.  There have been good moments, even good hours, but overall, the days have been long and difficult, and I have struggled to find some semblance of balance, of self, in a crowded mire of overthinking and worry and rejection and angst.  On the one hand, I don’t think I have ever been someone who defines myself primarily by my job; I am usually able to separate who I am from what I do.  But on the other hand, I had found a job that both challenged and intrigued me every day that I worked, and losing that position so abruptly felt like a nasty jab to my identity; not to mention my sense of self-worth as wage-earner and insurance-holder.  It has been a very hard three weeks, and I know that the hard times are not over.  Lots more days of insecurity and ambivalence are in my immediate, and possibly long-term, future. […]

  40. […] children. Until recently, she worked in an ER doing psychiatric crisis assessment. Then she got laid off due to budget cuts. No health insurance after […]

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