It’s surreal. I can still remember in perfect detail what it felt like to hear the words, “We’ve had to make some cuts, and we’re going to have to lay you off. Ashley I’m so sorry.”
It was such a familiar feeling, and I realized later that it was so absolutely completely like getting dumped. Except, I was getting dumped by my job, not some boy I could scream obscenities back at, and tell lies about behind his back. “Where will all my repressed anger go?” I wondered.
There is that same extreme tightness in your chest, as if there is a little midget inside your ribcage jumping on your heart, while at the same moment doing a tap dance on your lungs making it impossible to get air except for these pathetic little gasps. Suddenly your mind is spinning, and all you can think is, “Why me? Why are you doing this to me?” One minute you are a happily employed 23-year-old graduate, the next minute, unemployed.
There’s no warning, no petty relationship fights, no red flags, just BAM, “I don’t love you anymore. It’s not you, it’s me.” I wanted to scream, “NO! WE CAN WORK ON THIS! DON’T GIVE UP ON WHAT WE HAD!!!!!!!”
It’s uncanny how much being laid off feels like getting dumped. I even coped with it the same way. There’s the immediate outpouring of tears, then of course the calling everyone close to you to tell them what horrible monstrosity just happened to you while you sit in your car sobbing like a little girl. There’s that same feeling as you walk back into your home that first time afterwords where you pace your apartment like a caged animal. You can’t sit still, can’t eat, can’t focus on a tv show or a book to save your life. And more than anything, there’s that same internal panic where over and over you’re asking yourself, “What do I do now?” As if repeating the question will suddenly supply you with a solution.
Identity crisis, ‘finding yourself’, stepping back out into the world, all things you have to go through after a break up, and being laid off. I asked people things like, “Did they not like me enough? Did I do something wrong?” I even got teary eyed at sappy country songs about loss and regret. It was pathetic. Sometimes I had just wished I was going through a real break up. At least that way I could call them up in a drunken rage and tell them how they ruined my life. Unemployment, there’s just no one to rage at.
The weekend right after I got dumped by my job Adam and I took a trip to the WA coast. I stood on those cold windy shores and I watched people walk their dogs, throw a ball, and live their lives. I stood there in Ocean Shores, WA, a small coastal town less than two hours from Olympia, and I vowed to make it through somehow. Redefine myself, find a new job, take it all in stride after my weekend pity party. Little did I know standing on that beach that in three short months I would actually move closer to the beach that brought me so much clarity. Closer to the very place where I took a stand and vowed to put my life back together…