Unemployment: Not the Paid Vacation People Think It Is

There are so many myths about unemployment. People seem to think it’s not a big deal, until it happens to them. And I get that because you don’t know the hell of it until you have lived it. A few years ago Beau lost his job. It was tough, but I didn’t understand the psychological effects it had on him. He was depressed and I didn’t understand why. He lost his job through no fault of  his own, so what was the big deal? It’s not like he wasn’t preforming or someone didn’t like him. He worked in construction and we all know how that went down. But now I get it. All too well. I have been laid off before. But I would get picked up again after the twentieth day of school when more funding was given. I still don’t understand that logic. I would lose my awesome insurance and we’d have to go under Beau’s until mine would kick in again. Beau’s was really expensive, but it always worked out. Last August, I was laid off for reals. There would be no picking me back up. I couldn’t reapply for six months. It was really, really hard on me. It totally effected my self-esteem.

One day I had what I call, a mini nervous breakdown. Beau had to come home from work. I completely freaked out. It was just all so overwhelming. It’s really hard to explain. But I felt trapped and I was scared. I couldn’t believe that everything I had worked for meant nothing. It was a tough pill to swallow and I normally love to swallow pills. I couldn’t believe how much losing my job affected me mentally. When I look back at that time now, I wish I could just tell myself to relax that everything would be okay. But at the time, I was just so panicked. And angry. I was pissed. My career was ripped away from me by a screwed up system. It was nothing personal, but I took it personally.

I'm sure I'll  never regret this.
I’m sure I’ll never regret this.

Then there were the endless questions. The only people who ask the questions are the ones who have never lost a job. My friends who had lost jobs before understood and brought over dinners and wine and cigarettes. Because they knew the terror of what it was like, to all of the sudden not have money. Everyone else liked to give advice. You should do this, you should do that. Have you ever thought about trying this? No, I never thought about trying to get another job. Ever. I’m that dumb. I guess that’s why I lost my job in the first place. It was getting uncomfortable with people always asking about my situation, so Beau suggested I just say something that didn’t really make any sense and it would confuse people, or they would think I was weirder than they originally thought. Either way, it worked. When the same person would ask for the umpteenth time what I was up to, I would just say, you know, I’m just getting things in order. Then I would just walk away. That made me happy.

I also liked the people who would just pretend that I didn’t lose my job and say things like, isn’t it great that you get to be home with your kids all day? Um, yeah, great. You’ve obvi never been alone with my kids all day in the dead of winter when the sun hasn’t shone in three damn days. Trapped in the house. We had four snow days this past winter. Four. Four days when at least half my kids should have been at school, but they were home. And we were all trapped in the house. At the mercy of Mother Nature. You know what? You’re right. This is way better than having an income and practically free health insurance. Not.

I know every single person who said something to me meant well. No one was trying to hurt my feelings or make me feel bad. Well almost no one. I suspect one person enjoyed making me feel like an ahole. But that’s a story for another time. In bad situations people love to say, everything happens for a reason. Something positive will come of this. Blah, blah, blah. Yes I do believe in all of that, but I don’t need to hear it from you. Thank you very much.

In the grand scheme of things I knew I had to snap out of it and be thankful for what I did have. It just took time. I had to be grateful for the four awesome kids I had. Now that it’s summer I like them again. When they’re outside all day and all I have to do is boil up some hotdogs every few hours, I don’t mind them. I’m so happy that Beau has a good job to pay the mortgage. I’m thankful for awesome family and friends who make me laugh and pay me to babysit their kids so that I can feed mine. I’m not at the place where I’m thankful that unemployment was cut off or that even though I lost my job I still have to pay back my student loans. Not sure I’ll ever reach that place. Not sure such a place even exists. But we’re all happy and healthy and that’s all that matters.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller… Kelly Clarkson knows. She’s been there. I put her song on my ipod and belted it out day after day until I had my positive outlook on life back. You didn’t think I’d come back, I’d come back swinging… Yes, I’m back and I’m swinging.

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