There have been times in my life when I have felt overwhelmed by the dark. At some level, being “terminated” from my job pales in comparison to the other events in my life that have triggered a dark stage, and yet, at some level, it has evoked feelings that are as deep and as dark as any I have known.
At first, my response to my termination was rather philosophical. At some level, my “boss” had simply accelerated my departure. I knew I was going to have to leave some day to preserve my mental health and wellbeing. So how could I feel angry about it? But I did feel angry. Angry, betrayed, and bitter. Because leaving a job on one’s own when it feels like it is time to move on, is very different from being pushed out the door. I worked my tail off for that organization. I came up with innovative solutions to the challenges presented. I overcame incredible resistance from other Departments. And I established new policies, programs and processes that continue today with accolades from a number of sources. And for all my hard work, stress, and creativity, I was shown the door with no expressions of appreciation, no apologies, and no explanations.
To lose one’s job at any time is stressful. It raises fears about financial survival particularly when there are mortgages to be paid and kids to support. But to be treated so poorly made it much more painful. It would have been much easier if my “boss” had called me into his office, apologized for the decision, explained why it had to be done, and thanked me for my hard work. I would still be facing financial ruin, and the fear that I might never find a good job again, but I would have left with my reputation, self-confidence, and soul in tact.
Instead, my termination left the external world with the impression that somehow I had “screwed up” even among people who have known me for a long time. More importantly, it resonated with some deep inner voice that said: “there must be something wrong with me”. With no clear explanation provided, the dark voice inside my head said: “If you were a different person, they would not have terminated you”. Intellectually, I know that my termination had less to do with me than it did with other forces beyond my control, but that is hard to hold on to that in the middle of the night when my demons are strong.
So, for the last 18 months, I have been struggling with the dark; fears about financial survival; fury about being betrayed by my “boss”; hatred directed at my self; and grief because it has caused me to question my faith in the universe. I have taken it one day at a time; meditating, writing and praying; to keep the darkness at bay; to find my way back to the light.