Posted by: Kate | November 15, 2008

The Morning After

Twenty-four hours later, and the sharpest edge of shock has sliced in and lodged somewhere just under my heart.  It’s no longer a stabbing, horrifying affront, but it is persistent and leaves me feeling a little bit breathless and has slowed down my reflexes and processing skills.  I’ve been doing a lot of, “….oh, sorry.  What?”

Twenty-four hours later, and the sense of rejection and disappointment has firmly taken root a bit above that knife-slice of shock, wrapping around my heart and aching.  Not with each beat, nothing so poetic… just at odd, random moments, ready or not.

Twenty-four hours later, the initial panicky aderenaline rush has evolved into a consistent, low-grade band of wheezing, breathless anxiety up yet again from the stabbing shock and the binding dejection.  The tiniest thing, or nothing at all, can bring on a surge of nervous energy that, while not quite reaching the level of panic, provides a quiet and unwelcome reminder that it would be so easy to just give in to panic and despair.  So easy to just slide under and dwell in the land of What-If and Catastrophe.

Twenty-four hours later, the process from the neck up hasn’t settled much.  Thoughts are hard to come by, especially those of the complete and coherent variety.  Normal tasks take longer just because of the sheer number of distractions between points A and B.

Twenty-four hours later, there’s a lot of numbness.  In all of the places where there is no squeezing anxiety or crushing depression, where there is no stabbing shock or jumbled elusive thoughts, there’s not much of anything.  Apathy, mostly, coupled with a high level of lethargy.

Yesterday was a very bad day.  I don’t think there was any way that things could have been handled well, but they certainly could have been handled better.  There aren’t, actually, many ways in which yesterday morning could have gone worse.

They immediately took my cell phone and keys, disabled my computer access.  Which all adds to the horribleness of it all, because it leaves an implication that I did something wrong and needed to be carefully watched.  I understand that it’s legally the right thing to do, to minimize the chances for a vengeful tantrum on the part of an angry employee, but it was morally wrong.  They know me there.  I have never acted out or had a public outburst, had never comported myself with anything less than professionalism.  They could have sit and watched over my shoulder as I typed out a quick “thanks and good-bye” note.  Instead they handed me pay last paycheck and another check for accrued vacation time and walked me out of the room.  My supervisor didn’t see fit to say anything like, “You did good work here,” or, “Thanks.”

It was pointed out to me yesterday that perhaps she was feeling badly about the whole thing, too.  Perhaps she did know about the lay-off’s specific role in my future earlier in the week (of course she did, she’s the COO of the company) but she couldn’t legally tell me in advance and was feeling sad/guilty/upset, herself.  Maybe so… and I couldn’t care less.  She could have done things in a more respectful, aboveboard manner and still been within the letter of the law; she chose to be distant and cold and authoritarian, two days after wasting an hour of my life showing me photographs of her dogs, because she is, at heart, a coward and unable to communicate like an adult or appropriately mediate conflict.

So, yes, all of the stages of grief are full-on in evidence, and it’s worst in the morning.  By last night, I had achieved a level of calm and got organized enough to rewrite my resume and submit it to three potential jobs.  I was able to make jokes, and say the words “lost my job” without gasping at the renewed shock of it al, and generally feel a little more in-control.

But I didn’t sleep well last night, and woke up miserable all over again.  I know it will lift through the day; it always does.  It’s just how I roll, and I’m used to me by now.  But I would dearly love a fast-forward button to miss the morning angst.


  1. Aww, Kate. That sucks. {{{hugs to you}}} and good luck with the job search.

    You are entitled to every emotion you are feeling.

  2. Not that it helps but you are not alone today…my father was laid off yesterday as well. I feel for you and wish I could help. I know the pain and shock will fade and you are a resilient person who will find something and put your wonderful spin on it and make it better.

  3. I am not generally someone who thinks that everything happens for a reason, but I truly hope that in a short amount of time you will be able to look back on this and see a reason for it in your life, such that if this hadn’t happened you would not have applied for that certain job that is just what you had been wanting and waiting for all along. I hope, I hope, I hope. Until such a time I wish for you mornings of calm and much meditative kniting. Let me know if you need any yarn!

  4. Put it into perspective-no one died or is critically ill, your house didn’t burn down, etc. You’re smart and have earning potential-another position will come along. Your family is healthy and happy. Counting your blessings does work after the initial shock wears off. I have no doubt that you’ll be fine!

  5. Perspective is not the problem here. Supporting one’s family is. Having the rug completely and unexpectedly pulled out from you is the problem. Being treated like just one more nameless drone in a job that requires intense personal involvement in people’s lives is the problem. (And please don’t remind me, “That’s how it’s done…”. I know it is. That doesn’t make it less wrong.)

    If nothing else, I would say that Kate’s perspective is exactly where it should be. Perhaps, joanna, your comment would sound less flip to me if it weren’t a measly 24 hours after the event that will inevitably change life as Kate and her family know it. That’s nothing to merely brush off as if it were a pesky mosquito.

  6. […] But the thing is, I just lost my job *yesterday*.  There was literally 24 hours between that incident and this post. […]

  7. I was talking to my biological mom last night on the phone and I mentioned your situation (not names, just general details). She’s also sad to have heard this.

    I mentioned on your Facebook comment that I had been blindsided like that too. We were in the process of building our first house and had already signed the contracts. Then, we were unsure if we’d be able to handle the mortgage on one income. Luckily, I found a decent enough job and life got back to “normal”. But, it never feels good to be sent packing from a job, just out of the blue. I also cried for days and felt like a failure. I had to accept unemployment for a few weeks. I know you will land on your feet – if there is anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  8. The thing is, I’ve been through a round of layoffs in my company, and for the professional level people, layoffs rarely mean escorting people off the premises with security right there. Usually people get the news and are still asked to work another week or two to wrap things up and whatnot. Obviously there are those that choose to leave immediately but most stay on for the week or two (or even month or two) that they’re asked and leave amicably. You are right, your company could NOT have handled your layoff any worse.

  9. Oh, Kate! I’m so sorry. My husband was laid off in June and IT SUCKED. Crappiest feeling ever!

    I just got your comment on my blog about bringing the kids over…and margaritas…I giggled until I remembered that you actually live near me.

    I’ll gladly host a girls night (with or without kids) at my house now that my husband is back to work. Turn on the Wii for the kids and dust off the bar. I haven’t gotten my girls night out yet and I make the best margaritas ever.

    Email me. themommy at mommycosm dot com

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