Sunday, July 27, 2014

Adjusting to a new reality

Thank you all so much for your comments on my recent post about being laid off from my job. I am OK (for the most part). Dh, for his part, is thrilled to have me home with him a full 18 months sooner than we had been planning.

To be honest, it's been such a busy week, I haven't had a lot of time to dwell on what happened (except maybe when I'm awake at 3 a.m. and can't go back to sleep)(although it was certainly the main topic of conversation wherever I went). I was let go on Tuesday, had lunch with a visiting relative on Wednesday (instead of an evening or weekend visit -- because I could...!!), lunch on Thursday with a couple of former colleagues I've stayed in touch with (organized before all this happened), and cleaned house & did laundry on Friday, followed by dinner out with friends. Perhaps it's just as well that I've stayed busy.

Which is not to say I haven't been thinking about what happened, or found myself  struggling to fully comprehend the new reality I find myself thrust into. You don't realize how much of your life revolves around work, and the routines you've put in place related to that -- until suddenly, work isn't there anymore. (I remember wondering about the 9-11 survivors -- some of them had worked in those towers for years, & suddenly, their workplace, their daily routine, many of their coworkers and in some cases their jobs were just... gone... and in a very traumatic way.) 

When you're working, you tend to cram in a lot of activity on the weekend, because you either don't have time or are too tired on weeknights.  For years, our Saturday routine has included cleaning & laundry, shopping for groceries for the coming week, a visit to the cemetery, dinner out, and a browse at the bookstore.  But because I was out a lot this week, we decided we'd eat at home this Saturday. As we did, dh pointed out that we didn't HAVE to do any of the usual things on Saturday anymore. We could do laundry on Monday, or go out for dinner on Tuesday, or visit Katie or the bookstore anytime we like -- because we have the time now. A novel concept!

I think about the people I'm not going to see anymore every day -- and not just the people I worked with. I think about the father & son who run the newsstand downstairs, where I buy magazines and breathmints -- the husband & wife team who run the lottery kiosk near the subway entrance -- the baristas at the coffee shops I frequent, who know my order and often have it ready to hand to me by the time I reach the cash register -- the girls at the salon where I've been getting manicures, pedicures and waxing done for almost 20 years (argh, now I have to find a new nail place closer to home...).  Will they notice my absence? Will they wonder where I've gone?  Even if/when I do go back downtown (and in fact I am going tomorrow), it will probably be awhile before I want to go back to the tower where I worked. Too many people I know that I might run into;  too many awkward explanations about what happened. (Hmmm, why does this sound familiar...??)

I flip through my datebook & see the weekly meetings I dutifully recorded there -- which I will never attend -- and, one by one, cross them out. I find myself idly thinking that I must remember to head up to the Hallmark store at the Eaton Centre on my lunch hour sometime this week to buy a birthday card for our nephew -- and then I remember that I don't have a job to go to and won't be going into the city then. (Well, I could, if I wanted to, but I can just easily find him a card somewhere around here.)  ;) 

It's not a HUGE deal (at least it hasn't been, yet), not a lot of angst -- but it's a weird feeling nevertheless.


  1. When I left full-time employment (swapping it for self-employment) back in 2002, I went through many of these emotions, without the awkwardness of what happened. I avoided the tower where I worked like the plague (which was pretty hard, because I was still going to the gym there!), and avoided being in the CBD at a time when I might bump into someone I knew. It was weird. Work is so often treated as part of our identity, that when we don't have it - or don't have an easy answer (I'm the International Marketing Manager at XXXX, for eg.) - it can feel like we're floundering mentally, and in social interactions. Or I did, at least.

    As you pointed out, work affects us in many ways beyond work - all those people we see and interact with and who are important to us, and suddenly they are no longer part of our day or week. So there is loss there too. Especially when it is unplanned.

    Wishing you well with the transition. It's a road with ups and downs. But the freedom is wonderful! And I'm always busy, always have a long list of things to do.

    And if, planning ahead, you want to escape the Canadian winter this/next year, February is a lovely time to visit NZ! We have a spare room too. ;-)

  2. dear Loribeth,
    it is lovely to read your post and to see that you are doing OK.
    And it is lovely that your DH is thrilled to have you for himself 18 months sooner as planned.
    regards from rainy Europe.

  3. It will be 10 years this September that the flood hit that changed my life because my place of employment was flooded. I had many of those same feelings you are feeling now. Little did I know that Friday I left for vacation [I was off the week it hit] that would be the last time I would see many of my wonderful customers. It is a loss...loss of a routine, loss of familiarity, loss of co-workers etc. You will gain a new life but mourning your loss is normal.

  4. I left my teaching job to work at home, and that first fall felt so odd. It was as if the Pied Piper had rounded up all the people in town... except me. I was suddenly home during the day and no one else was home.

    It's a hard adjustment. Sometimes routines seem to fall into place no matter how much we sort of don't need them :-)

    You make a great point about all those people that miss us (or we miss them): the tiny people who are in the background that make up a life.

  5. I love this post. You always have a really inspiring way of keeping things into perspective.

  6. Reminds me of the time I moved to Finland from Indo. Not exactly the same, but suddenly having all the time in the world was really something.

    But you know what? I do wonder whenever I haven't seen particular customers for a long while. It's nice when I run into them again and realize they're doing OK, because sometimes reality is that they have died (there are so many elderly people here and because it's a small village, most of the customers that come to the store are regular ones).

  7. Oh, forgot to add: wish you all the best with your new adventure in life! Love your attitude!

  8. I'm glad you were able to keep busy! Hope that things fall into place in the coming weeks. Will be happy to read more of your writings here:)

  9. Dear loribeth,

    Somehow you manage these transitions with such grace and insight. I learn from you. Constantly. I'm sorry to hear this new space is yours sooner than you had anticipated, but I'm also a little excited (envious?) of how you and your husband will fill it. Wishing you all the best!