I’m turning the big five-oh in exactly one month from today! GULP.
As the half-century mark loomed over me the past couple of years, I was filled with dread. But in the last 6 months of so, I’ve pleasantly surprised myself and have been really embracing it, readying myself for the second half of my life to be the best half of my life.
I had heard your mentality shifts as you reach your 50s, but thought that was just a bunch of baloney. It’s true and it’s honestly quite pleasant. Maybe it’s the hormones that have been released as I go through menopause. I’m not sure, but I like that I’ve given myself permission to focus more on a nice list of things that make me happy.
- I’ve been dieting and, more importantly, successfully losing weight. For multiple psychological and physiological reasons I allowed myself to pack on the pounds over the past 10 years. I was fit and thin for 40 years of my life and decided I wasn’t going to usher “50” in with 25 extra pounds on my frame.
- I’ve been more social and – SHOCKER – actually joined a singles group which delightfully consists of many active members around my age. I haven’t dated for a long time and am not sure I’m ready to go there, but mayyyybbbbeeee I would consider it if the opportunity presented itself.
- I’ve been pursuing my dream of becoming an author. I actually banged out a full-length novel, albeit a crappy one, during National Novel Writing Month in November and have been part of a writing group I created ever since. I still consider myself a wannabe writer, but am uber pleased with myself for venturing down this path.
- I’ve been growing professionally. I was so fortunate to find my passion for nonprofit development work, which involves fundraising, marketing and outreach, in my forties. So many people my age drag themselves to work, day after day, just for the paycheck. I love everything about my career choice and have been in a position I adore for the past 15 months after 8 ½ years at another great organization.
And yesterday I got FIRED.
Yes. you heard me right. FIRED.
From a job I excelled at.
From a job I looked forward to every day.
From a job that allowed me to make a difference in the world.
From a job I desperately needed.
Listening to the words, “This is hard to do, but effective immediately your job is terminated,” come out of my supervisor’s mouth was absolutely the most shocking, unexpected thing I’ve ever been through. I’ve been trying to think of some of the bigger things that have actually shocked me in my life, to make sure I’m not making a bogus statement and so far it holds true.
Was it more shocking than when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, whose father I had dated for only a few weeks and we were broken up at the time? Yep.
Was it more shocking than discovering through Facebook my beautiful friend who was only 47 years old passed away unexpectedly? Yep.
Was it more shocking than getting a phone call in the middle of the night that my son was in the ER getting his stomach pumped because he was found non-responsive by the police? Yep.
There are a few others that are just too private to share, but you get the idea. A girl has to have some secrets, right?
My body reacted bizarrely, in ways I’ve never experienced before. My mouth went bone dry – I could barely talk and swallowing was impossible. My vision became kind of hazy giving everything a very dream-like quality. It was totally trippy. And my mind went completely blank. I somehow managed to go through the motions of packing up my office into four boxes, and walking out the door without even saying goodbye to my co-workers, and I didn’t break down. I even managed to drive myself to a doctor’s appointment I had scheduled.
Throughout the rest of the day a lot of emotions started coming into play.
I gave myself permission to just let these feelings flow through me without thinking too much about them. It wouldn’t have been possible even if I had tried – there was just too much going on in my head. After awhile it exhausted me and I went to bed.
Day 0 (aka Doomsday) Suggestions:
- Be dignified. Hopefully you happen to be reading this and have not yet experienced (and “fingers crossed” never do) this particularly demoralizing situation. So much is taken from you in just a few seconds with a few words, so hold on tight to your dignity. It will pay off in the long run. Don’t yell, argue, threaten or freak out in any other way. Remain calm and get the hell out of there as quickly and quietly as possible.
- Don’t numb yourself. I know that sounds horribly delightful given the circumstances, but it really just creates more problems and delays the inevitable. No, I’m not a recovering alcoholic or addict or anything, but I have been through enough rough situations to know alcohol and/or drugs are not the answer. Here are a few reasons why:
- You may do something incredibly stupid (like text your boss).
- You will have to deal with a wicked hangover on top of everything else the next day.
- You may be setting yourself up for a vicious cycle of dependency as you cope with this enormous challenge.
- The problem isn’t going to go away so don’t bother trying to fool yourself.
- According to Brene Brown, when you numb yourself, you numb the good along with the bad. Don’t do that to yourself right now because you need all the good vibes you can get, like the love and support that are hopefully coming your way.
- Baby yourself. Let yourself do whatever you want (except drink or use drugs). My activity of choice was to walk my dogs, even though that’s something I would normally do anyway. I went by myself (usually my son goes too) and was gone for a good 45 minutes. It felt good to just zone out without any of my home distractions and let my mind wander. You may want to just go to bed. Or watch TV. Or read a book. Or jump in the car and drive. Or talk to friends/family. Which leads me to the next suggestion.
- Contact only your closest friends/family. Don’t blast it out on social media – yet. You’re not ready for the rebound of messages. You haven’t even wrapped your own head around what has happened to you, so give yourself some time to let it sink in. Also, there will be loved ones who will unexpectedly let you down through either harsh words, not believing your side of the story or a general lack of support. Just be prepared and don’t engage. You need to take care of you. As the word gets out, you will quickly determine who has your back and who doesn’t.
Okay, that’s it for Day 0. I’m so sorry if you, too, have been FIRED . I’m not sure I have ever felt so demeaned, demoralized, embarrassed, shamed, treated unfairly….the list could go on and on. But, I’m a survivor and will get through this. And hopefully, my blog helps you get through it too. Remember, you’re not alone. Feel free to message me if you would like to chat.