It was June 2013 that I returned from an Alaskan cruise. I checked my phone messages. My manager had left a message that she wanted to talk with me right away. That was very unusual.
The next day, my manager told me that 60% of department had been laid off the week before and I was one of them. She asked me to take a day off and enjoy myself. I had a month to find another job within the company which we both knew no job existed at that time.
I was at first shocked even though I knew a layoff could happen. I refused to take the day off. I had work to do! I had customers to take care of after a week of being away. That week I worked very hard to make sure my customers’ needs were met.
I was overwhelmed emotionally. I was in denial and I was grieving. Being busy with work helped me avoid feeling too many unpleasant emotions at once. It also gave me a sense of self-worth and identity.
Over several months, I felt part of me died. The part of me that associated being worthy with having a job, good income and belonging to a group.
I lost my identity as I lost my badge. I avoided socializing with friends and co-workers who had jobs. I felt as a failure. I questioned myself, what if I had made a different decision eight years prior, what if I was more pro-active to avoid being in such a situation? What if?
I later realized that fear of being worthless and not wanted was in me for many years. I realized no matter what I had done differently, I eventually had to face that fear and grow through it.
Looking back, I now realize that what happened to me was the best thing that could have happened. I had to face my biggest fears. Part of me who had a wrong belief on who I was had to die, so my other parts can become alive. This by no means was easy.
I felt sadness and shame. At times I was very scared, felt empty and lonely. I cried. I meditated. I tried to keep busy by taking classes. I hugged my dog and went on walks with him. I talked with my close friends. In the process, I learned about myself and what was important to me. I was falling apart. I was also planning my re-construction.
I learned who my real friends were. I learned who had time for me. I observed who tried to encourage and support me to move forward. This event gave me an opportunity to be with people who were my true friends and accepted me as I was, with or without a badge. My true friends did not judge me and they stood by my side. In the process, I made a stronger bond with myself and people who cared for me.
I was also disappointed by reaction of some of my friends. I realized that it is not about me, rather their own fears and insecurities. I had to wish them well and move on.
We all have our own fears that we will eventually have to deal with. Those fears may be different for everyone. Some of us, like myself, will lose a job to learn about ourselves. It took me more than a year to get paid for my skills again. I depleted most of my savings and It was well worth what I have gained in return.
I died to the old concept of who I was, and how my worth is reflection of my pay check, the badge I wore, or approval I got from others. I realized that my worth was what I thought of myself as a person and I could improve my thoughts. I also felt much love and support from select friends.
I started accepting “I am worthy as I am”. I started breaking the chains of my old beliefs …
What did I learn in the process?
1- What I fear the most, I will experience as a way to grow.
2- Being honest with myself and acknowledging my feelings is a true form of self-love and path to freedom.
3- There are always people who will help and support me emotionally and spiritually.
4- I have to die to my ‘old’ self to be re-born with a new beginning. The future deaths (transitions) will be easier.
5- I am worthy as I am.
Copyright @ 2016 by Shervin Hojat