Think we've hit bottom? The weather's better, Madoff's in jail, banks are posting gains. We seem somehow clearer.

We woke today to headlines that an Air Force One jet buzzed over Manhattan on a photo junket - we went wild, angry hens in the hen house! Fly-by airliners over Ground Zero? It is unacceptable, we all know it. We are still a terrified City, you cannot fool around with people so recently wounded. Following expressed ire from the President and a(nother) frank, mea culpa from the White House, we feel vindicated for our anxious reaction. The hens have set themselves back to roost, still clucking sideways and backwards about the unthinkable line that was crossed.

We seem clearer about our boundaries as we begin to trust that we're part of the process. We elected someone who aspires to govern by transparency and we're starting to see what that means. So many of our boundaries have been crossed, now we can re-establish them, for better. They're listening.

But with all that, it's not over. John and I are in a holding pattern, waiting for word on potential opportunities that each passing day seem more like figments of our imagination. Last week two more big jobs were lost in my loose circle of people. Upon hearing, I stood by one friend, with no real encouragement, just empathy. Just these words: "OK, so let's get started..."

I just got a call from a friend in another state, she herself in a good job, her husband as well. But in her town a thousand miles away, the continuing fallout of this thing is at a boil, just as it is around here. She called to ask me what to say, how to be empathetic as more and more people came home with pink slips. She knows from being a passenger on my ride that there are right ways to approach it and not so right. Let's take a minute to record what feels best, when we reach the gates of The New Now, how do we want to be welcomed?

  • Meet it head on. Call it what it is, it is a terrible state of being. "If you've reached this point in your career and have not suffered job loss, you're just waiting in line". There is no stigma; when you play, you pay. This is not unique.

  • Pay gigantic compliments to the one who's lost the job. John and I both appreciate the many affirmations of who he is and how good he is at what he does. Loss of identity is as big as loss of paycheck; don't let us forget we are still who we always were, but better, stronger, with "more texture".

  • Take us out. For a walk, coffee, lunch or dinner. Get us out of our skin. One unemployed friend said that his wife is so much better after she's been with friends. Let her set the pace, but don't avoid the circumstance. This is not something we can or are trying to forget, it's part of our life and we want company in the coping.

  • Offer gifts. Great music, scented candles, articles and books. Give things you'd like to receive if you were experiencing the dark of the vacuum. Take a look at The New Now post about the Sanity Salon (2/9/09) for ideas. We have to hold onto our style; liken it to the first trimester of pregnancy when you felt horrific and style has gone out the window. I used to tell my sister during her pregnancy: "Accessorize!"
  • Don't get scared. If you're willing, we will take you along for this ride, but be warned: we will proclaim our emotions. We'll say things we mean (and those things will change regularly), we'll say things to get a rise (misery loves company). Empathy for those in the eye of the storm is a great exercise in passive listening.

This is a post begging for comments. Please click below and offer your suggestions. Again, my mantra, WE ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS THE SUM OF OUR PARTS.


anmarie said...

Charlotte - as always, your words are amazing. They are insightful, encouraging and healing. I wish I could have read them when we were experiencing our year of "the time-out."

I am sorry that our weekend plans fell through on Sunday - I do know how important companionship can be at all times, and especially these. As it turns out, Jim took sick and is only returning to the upright today.

Please don't stop writing...

Katrina said...

Great advice on what to do or say if you or your spouse has lost a job. It's such a scary place but you need all of your genuine friends who will call and listen. Reach out to other people if you or your spouse lose your job. It will not only help you get out of your dismal mood but it may help network for a new job. Get out in the fresh air to exercise. Meditate or volunteer for a homeless shelter. My mom always said, "Helping others will lift your spirits." Stay positive but let yourself complain and the move on to the next subject!

nina said...

Charlotte, well done you for getting this blog going. I wish I had thought of something similar when we were going through our own 'no job' situation, but then we have been down that route a few times in our life together, and the kids were so much younger (my excuse?).

My top tip for those going through the same thing? Use the 'time off' as best as possible. When working, we never have enough time to do all those things we want to do, so set a goal. In our case, Martin trained hard to go up Kilimanjaro (without the huge support network you see people with). He and his climbing partner were amongst the oldest (and fittest) up the mountain and their sense of achievement was even greater. My thanks to Sylvie for giving her husband the time out to accompany mine!