The Unbearable Banishment: the terrible thing that happened to my family

Friday, March 27, 2009

the terrible thing that happened to my family

In the middle of this road we call our life
I found myself in a dark wood
With no clear path through.

Dante Alighieri
The Divine Comedy, “Inferno”

* * *

I hadn't mentioned this before but back on December 6th, I lost my job.

I worked for investment bank behemoth Morgan Stanley and for 18 months I watched as the company dissolved around me. I survived several rounds of layoffs but was finally shown the door.

I began my job search on December 7th. It has been a relentless, exhausting grind without pause or success.

My best job lead just blew up. It was my greatest hope for employment and it’s gone. I’ve had dozens of interviews over the past three months that have resulted in little more than a smack in the face with a brick.

We got a call from 7-Year Old Daughter’s first grade teacher. She was concerned because Daughter walked up to her and said, “My Daddy got fired and nobody wants him.” I tried to explain the difference between being laid off and being fired, but children do not deal in subtly. She only understands that Dad doesn’t leave the house in the morning anymore.

I sit at the dinner table and look at my two beautiful little girls and wonder how I’m going to provide for them. It feels like someone ripped my heart out of my chest, put it in an empty paint can, filled it with thick, black tar, soldered the lid shut and stenciled “DESPAIR” on the front.

The economy in New York is a shambles but I bear some responsibility for my predicament. I was complacent and allowed my skills to atrophy. Mrs. Wife has been a rock but I can barely look her in the eye. I read the papers and realize that hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, but this is my story.

The healthcare premium for my family is $956/month. We're just a simple, middle class family.

What am I going to do?


Blogger Barlinnie said...

You start at the very beginning. You get up in the morning and look at the face looking back at you in the mirror. See that person for what he really is.

Articulate, intelligent, personable, and with one hell of a lot of personal worth.

Tell yourself that you WILL survive the economic meltdown, and that you WILL find a job at some point.

Never EVER give up on hope, or yourself. Be proud that you refuse to give in like so many others already have.

It's times like these that makes a man.. not breaks a man.


March 27, 2009 at 4:18 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Jimmy: Thank you for the boot in the arse. I owe you $5.

I wrote that post just after I was turned down for what would have been a great job.

Reet, then. I get knocked down, but I get up again, etc., etc.

March 27, 2009 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

That's harsh, dude. As Jimmy says, you're defined by who you are, not what you do.

March 27, 2009 at 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UB, I am sorry to hear about the job. I don't have any advice really, but the important thing is to not let this warp your sense of who you REALLY are - which is not defined by the job you held.

Perhaps this is an opportunity in disguise that just hasn't revealed itself yet? I haven't -yet - gotten myself certified to teach in Canada, and I use my inability to not fall back on what I did forever to look at things I wouldn't have considered before. Just a thought.

March 27, 2009 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you going to do? What you can.

Jimmy puts it really well. You get up, you carry on, you do what you can for your family. They love you and will support you through this. Ditto us lot.

March 27, 2009 at 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is the truly dark stuff. that tests us... dad always said the measure of a man ("human" is what i knew he meant) is how he deals with misfortune. anyone can handle the good stuff...

i know several folks out of work - and a dozen interviews in 3 months isn't as horrible as some are facing.

and i'll be sure to go visit jimmy when i need a life-coaching ass kicking... you've got skills to sell - including the unique and highly valuable gift of COMMUNICATION - and you will get this behind you...

March 27, 2009 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

All: 10,000 thank-yous for these kind words. I've been out of work since mid-December but never mention it because I don't think it makes for very interesting reading. Also, I feel an undercurrent of shame, although my dismissal was for economic and not performance reasons.

Daisy: Here’s one of my favorite Chekhov quotes, which is contrary to your father’s philosophy:

Any idiot can face a crisis. It’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.

And, by the way, all that theater I see? The tickets are free. I’m not pissing the unemployment away on entertainment. What kind of person would that make me...?

March 27, 2009 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Digital Fortress said...

I am in the same boat. Three months and counting with nothing to show for it, but a new resume, new interview suit and whole lot of time spent looking for a new job.

I just keep plugging away and taking it one day at a time.

I feel the shame and the stigma of not working all the time and I don't like it, but I tell myself that things won't always be this way and I will find a suitable position at some point.

I am confident you will too.

Be misreable for a bit if you need to, but keep your chin up and remember you will get through this.

March 27, 2009 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Jud said...

I went through a similar thing about 3 years ago. I was unemployed, or marginally employed for about 6 months before getting another 'real' job.

Stay busy. Set goals daily, such as:

-I will get up at the usual time (6 AM or whatever normal is).
- I will research x new companies today.
- I will submit x resumes to today.
- I will call x people in my network today.
- I will exercise for x minutes today (this one will also help keep you sane).

I don't know if you were on the sales or support side, but if you were in sales, remember that actions x frequency = results.

Stick with it. You are not allowed to get down or depressed in front of the girls. In your room, with the Mrs., occasionally, but not in front of the kiddos.

March 27, 2009 at 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy's the Man - and so are you UB! We already know you're not a whiner, sorry you're going through a rough patch, sincerely hope things improve for you soon.

When I was married with young children my husband was out of work for so long that we were just living on credit and borrowing by the time he finally found work again. I found it really stressful but my then mother in law said "As long as you've got your health you've got everything."

I thought she didn't know what she was talking about but since then my kids have grown up, I divorced my husband and spent 8 years with Stephen. when he got sick and died it put everything else in to perspective for me.

If you and your family have health and love you'll get through this. Your kids will grow up to be fine adults and one day the four of you will look back on this time and remember it with fondness for lots of reasons other than work or money

March 27, 2009 at 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright, this is a bad time. But you can do this. As Jimmy said you have talents. Your a good person and I know at times like this that doesn't seem to count for much, but trust me, it does.
First know that it is now your job to find a job. Everyday you go to work to a job. Having a routine is key and being up beat is, although hard also important. It shows on your face when you are beaten. And your not beaten yet. You've just started.
Be creative and look outside your field. Heck, when my husband was laid off he drove a cab at night. He's an environmental engineer. It was a hard job, but it also was an experience he would have never had otherwise. He met a lot of great people and saw some freaky things. But it was good.
Your going to be alright. It may take longer then you had thought it would, but your smart and you can write. Thats more then most.

March 27, 2009 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

DF: Let’s have a race. Who can find employment first? On your mark. Get set…

Jud: I am happy to report that I already employ many of your great suggestions. I lost my gym membership so I’ve taken up running. I’ve always been an early riser. I start “work” at 9:00.

Nurse: I found Jimmy through your site and you’re right. He’s the bomb. I needed a kick in the head and he's just the guy to deliver it. And you’re not kidding about health. I didn’t need a crisis to realize how important it is.

Bev: Telling me I can write is my Achilles heel. Can I send you a check? (After I’m employed, of course!)

All: Why couldn’t they have laid me off in June? I live near the Jersey shore. I could have been a bronzed Adonis. December?! WTF?!

March 27, 2009 at 11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will be are a hard worker, a great person and have a wonderful sense of humor. Go for a walk on the beach let your frustrations go and shake it off. Get up Monday morning go to the familiar place that you love so much and think outside the box, something will come along.

March 28, 2009 at 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way go to:

they will be posting 200k jobs through out the US on April 6th.

March 28, 2009 at 9:53 AM  
Anonymous popomatic Jeff said...

I'm sorry to hear this. If it's any consolation, I lost my job after the terrorist took down the WTC, which happened to be a major client of the firm I worked for. After loosing my job I started freelancing and that led to a full time job that I still have today (fingers crossed) and love.

Good luck and try not to let the job hunt get you down.

March 28, 2009 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Stan D. said...

Sorry, UB. It's corny but while you're waiting for your job (which WILL come, it's just taking longer these days), can you apply your talents to something you really books?

For example, I know this absolutely brilliant writer outside Chicago who would love some help putting together a very simple, text-based book cover...

March 28, 2009 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Best of luck. Not comforting, I know. But, best of luck.

March 28, 2009 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger bob said...

when I was in the job looking boat, after getting the heave-ho from 'Brand This!', my job-search-guru/employment coach told me v similar things to what Jud says ..

it's all stuff we already know deep down, and many of us have been there (or will be there soon). hang in, work at it every day, and somehow things will work out -- even if it's not in a way that you thought they might

and if need be, you manage labels for a while

March 29, 2009 at 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

UB: We work our entire lives....this is a blessing in disguise that you may only realize after you are back in the grind. Enjoy your time with your family and watching your girls grow up for a few months. Just don't start watching soaps on the couch. Seriously though, hang in there and enjoy the extra time with your family, your girls will be grown and married before you know it.

March 29, 2009 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Jason Quinones said...

if anybody's interested i'm hiring a crack team of amatuer mercenaries to help me "assassinate" (read: slowly murder with papercuts and lemon juice) former u.s prez gerorge w. bush.

i unfortunately can only pay any interested parties in subway sandwich 5 dollar footlong coupons.

so who's wit me???

seriously...hang in there bro.

March 30, 2009 at 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's for you won't go by you. Just do your best and something will turn up. It always does.

March 31, 2009 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger A Free Man said...

Ah shit man. I'm sorry to hear it. Damn economy damn mess. That health care thing, that's one of the reasons that I won't come back to the States. If everything went tits up here, and it may very well do yet, at least I know I could take my family to the doctor without being shaken down by some insurance company.

April 1, 2009 at 6:45 PM  
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