Reflections from the Outside looking In

In a post, titled Losing Your Job and Learning What You're Made Of, Mika Brzezinski begins by saying:
Being unemployed has so many real and palpable ramifications but there are also psychological side effects which you can only understand if you've truly lived through it.

When you walk out the door, its over. No cell phone. No email address. Nothing.

Stripped of your link to the outside world. Many "friendships" from work evaporate, quickly, for all sorts of disappointing reasons. There is denial. Fake bliss. (I am so glad I am out of there! I am, I really am, What a mess that place was!) Then reality - You can't stop asking why.

You feel left out. The days get extremely long. You are cut off from the rest of the world. It continues on without you. People are busy, but for you, it is over.
Before 2001 I had no experience with the world of unemployment.. I had not been out of work since my teen years.. even my transition from the US Army to civilian life was just a few weeks long.. my former company was legally required to hire me when I left the military.

In May 2001 I, like Mika, found myself on the outside looking in after I was laid off from EDS.. I had no idea that the layoff would last 15 months.. had no clue about how hard it would be to find work.. found out that guys in their 50s are not in much demand. That time started off happily.. like Mika's "I am so glad I am out of there!".. yet life quickly turned difficult.. my immediate family got some shocking news.. my dad got ill.. I had major surgery.. my dad died.. another family crisis.. then my wife Ann had her first stroke-like NMO relapse.. the following months we consumed with hospital visits and physical therapy.. and the first time I watched Ann learn to walk again.

So when I finally returned to work in August 2002 I was glad to get back to a bit of normalcy.. yet the work was different than the one that I had become accustomed to.. I had to get used to the idea that my career was not in an upward climb.. I had to find a way to enjoy work again without all the strokes to my ego. Mika says it this way:
Starting over, the work may not be exactly what you want but it's work. And that in itself has special value. Hard to accept at first, but if you can take that first step back in the door, any step...its worth it.
In many ways retirement has a bit of an unemployment feel to it.. hard to settle in to a different lifestyle.. a life where work (or finding work) was not the center of my day. Of course I am not retired from life.. just employment.. for now anyway 

So how about you? Do you have an unemployment story to share? What part of it challenged (or challenges) you the most? Any advice for those who find themselves on the outside looking in?


  1. I am living an unemployment story right now. I haven't been unemployed since I was a teenager, so its very weird (except for a few months when my son was born). The hardest part for me, is not receiving any unemployment, or any form of income at all. Its so scary. I have tried to work something out with my credit card companies (like lowering pmts or rates) and they said they can't help someone that has no form on income. Ugh. It feels horrible. I am grateful that I am not homeless and have food to eat but my credit is going to be ruined cause I can't make payments.

  2. Finances are a huge part of losing a job Barbara. I am hoping something comes along for you soon. Any company would be blessed to have you as an employee.


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