Big bad unemployment

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I guess it’s OK to talk about this now: Some weeks ago, I lost my consulting job of 5.5 years, when I was laid off due to “lack of work.” I worked for my brother: He gave me one week of notice. The company had been struggling for some time.

I haven’t said anything about it outright on this blog, because for a while we didn’t want the kids to know. We didn’t want them to worry that they had just moved here and that we wouldn’t be able to take care of them. It was a difficult secret to keep. Even now, I’m worried that I’ll freak somebody out by saying the wrong thing.

It was very upsetting, as the timing could hardly have been worse, with my hubby having been unemployed for a couple of years now, and three children moving in. Let’s just say these past couple of months have been the most stressful in probably the last 7 or 8 years. I have so much riding on my shoulders.

In a lot of ways, it’s a good thing. It will probably be a great thing. I was in a job situation that was not right for me, and had not been for quite some time. I had tried to find other work, especially last year. But several promising opportunities came very close to coming through, only to  fall through at the last minute. One in particular crashed horribly to the ground only hours after I was promised the job. That, and some negative experiences with work, really took a toll on my confidence in 2011.

And now I’m in a situation, where, like so many other people, I’m looking, under duress. Our house is under water, we’re stuck at a relatively high interest rate. We have no savings, except for some quickly dwindling vacation pay. We have lots of extra expenses. We are able to get unemployment, which works out to be about $1000 less per month than we were previously bringing in. Before tax. And we were already struggling. We also lost our insurance, but were able to get some short-term major medical, and prescriptions aren’t too much more than they were with insurance. Fortunately, the kids have insurance through Oregon Health Plan. And we are able see the doctor if we need to – there’s a medical clinic in town that has a sliding scale. I’m able to see the vegan Nurse Practitioner I wanted to see for $11 less than the copay I paid when I was insured!

Of course, this is a great time to reassess, to figure out what type of work I can really be happy doing. To see which skills I want to ramp up, and maybe which ones to toss. To try new things. So many directions to go! Should I concentrate on our design and IT consulting business? Should I spend all my free time networking, emailing resumes, trolling the IT job boards? Or should I be concentrating on new skill-sets like WordPress dev and Ruby on Rails? How will I keep my SharePoint skills sharp with little access to dev servers or software? How can I leverage my nonprofit skills? Could I start a vegan-based business or nonprofit? Will I get desperate and take a job that doesn’t seem like a good fit experience-wise or financially? What happens when we can’t pay the mortgage?

A lot of my time these past few weeks has been wrapped up in contingency planning. Swallowing pride, asking for help. The schools and the community have really stepped up, and for that we are very grateful. There are a lot of caring people here, and some good social programs. Relatives on the kids’ side have also helped where they can. Just today, we finally got into a mortgage assistance program that was a huge pain in the ass to apply for. At least we are in enough that we’ll be able to submit the paperwork. I’m sure it will take a few months to come through, if it does at all, and hopefully I’ll have a job by then. But we have to think ahead. What if?

Luckily, a lot of the shock of losing my job and of suddenly becoming a full-time parent has worn off by now. Most days I’m able to think clearly. To appreciate what I have. To plan ahead as much as is possible. I’m so grateful that we were able to get a deal at the community center. Yoga is saving my sanity right now. It’s my major stress relief  and what is keeping my lungs strong and healthy. I’m going to go check the schedule for tomorrow.

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3 responses

  1. Transitions are hard and taking a moment to blog it makes real on a whole other level. You are more than coping, you are learning to thrive and I congratulate you!

  2. Pingback: Productive, but bittersweet weekend « Beezelbarb