Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Unemployment Diaries: Listen

Being unemployed is much like having a disease. Initially, people care and inquire and encourage but after a point when things aren’t changing or getting better the topic becomes one better left alone. I know no one wants to hear about my situation anymore. I don’t want to hear about my situation anymore and yet I’m stuck, buried up to the neck in it with no relief or escape in sight. Nothing but the growing realization that as each day passes without a job I become more and more firmly entrenched in what is now known as the ‘unemployable’ category of the business world. The only statistical category that still awaits me is “discouraged worker” (i.e. given up looking) and many days I feel it is not far off. My demographics are among the worst in the country: I’m ‘old’ (not 55 but still playing for that team) and I’ve been unemployed for 18 months. Today there are 5.4 million long-term unemployed, comprising 42.8% of the total unemployed population of 12.5 million people. To every HR person and recruiter out there I’m leaking skills and proficiencies like a sieve. It’s been 18 months since I created a drop down menu in Excel or tracked my changes in Word.

I am left to wonder what else can I do, what am I doing wrong, why is this happening to me? I had a long and established career in my field. My work has always been praised. I learn quickly and am always the first to volunteer for new projects that will expand my skills. Blah blah blah. Me and 12.5 million other people. I have friends and family who care about me but the topic has become off limits. Why bring it up? The wise ones know that hearing; “You’re going to find something soon, I just know it”, “You need to keep a positive attitude” or “Everything happens for a reason” is going to result in a stony-eyed stare and a fake smile. It doesn’t help and only makes the speaker seem that much more disconnected from the reality of my situation. What I need to hear is: “I know someone looking for someone like you. Here’s their number, call them.”

It matters not that I was once a valued employee, I earned respect from my colleagues, I was responsible with my finances and saving for retirement, living beneath my means. Now, the savings goes to pay for health care (which I am fortunate to have) and crazy fun things like the mortgage. So I write reviews, blog, write articles, volunteer, volunteer and volunteer come more but none of these count as a job. Oh, I put in the hours and I’m working (sometimes nights and weekends) but there is no remuneration and even more depressingly, no magical contacts or networks of people who DO know of jobs and are willing to hook me up. Until such a time as someone hands me a check this is all a hobby.

There is solitude which is pastoral and lovely- sitting in a green meadow under trees, being alone because you choose to be. Then there is loneliness, a condition imposed by self or situation. It can look and feel like this:

or this

Source: via Catherine on Pinterest

The thing is I’M. NOT. ALONE. There are millions of me out there and yet there is nothing about this experience to bring people together. If I watch the news and see the interviews of people in similar situations it makes me cry because they're doing what I'm doing and getting nowhere. Whoever said misery loves company was not unemployed.  Much like hanging around people with MS, hanging around people like me right now would make me stabby and yet it is soul-suckingly painful to be this alone. I am beginning to feel less than, as if my self-worth is being depleted. To know that no one I know has experienced this; that they cannot commiserate but only silently thank the gods that it's not them.  I am alone and want only to ask: Can you hear me?


Kathy G said...

Does your area have any networking organizations for people who are unemployed? I've heard from people that I trust that they were very helpful

tweedlibrarian said...

Oh, Catherine, what a sad post. I am sorry you are in this position, and really sad I have no job to offer you. It's terrible that your career has just been yanked away from you.

~C said...

I hear you Catherine! The worst is when someone says, "Gee, you might have to get a job at McDonalds, or housekeeping." Ugh! I feel so inadequate too often. I check in to see how you're doing, I hate to be alone, but wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

You are not alone one of our son did not have a job over a year, my huysband ran out of unemployement, He was laid off 3 times in bis work life, you are worth while dont judge yourself by a job but what you are inside, n o one can take that away from you.
Wishing you all sorts of blessings to carry you throught these difficult times, it will get better.

Annie v.

Kathy said...

I was just reading news articles about older workers
who will never work again.
It's terrible. It's like
all the education and experience
you've gained in your life
count for nothing.
And then for some, the next
crisis is losing their home.
Again, all you've worked for - gone.
I've been a housewife for
a while, but now that my
hubby has been laid off for
the third time since this
economic crisis began,
I'm starting to think I am
going to have to go back to
work, too, but - to do what?
I just turned 49 and haven't worked in a while. The chances
of my getting a job seem pretty slim according to the
I'm starting to look into the possiblity of an alternative lifestyle
- like RV living.
I'm sure a lot of other
middle-aged people are, too.

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