Last January I wrote about post about putting myself first, because I matter. When I wrote that post I fully believed what I put down. I went into 2018 determined to make it my year to excel and try new things and to put me first.
I’m not sure 2018 could’ve gone any worse than it did.
I recently found a quote while scrolling through Facebook. It made me laugh, shake my head and think “Yup, that’s about as accurate as it gets”.
The Fuckening: When your day is going too well and you don’t trust it & some shit finally goes down. Ah, there it is, the fuckening.
I have been apart of the Insurance industry for the past 13 years. I worked my way up from answering calls and typing letters as a clerk, to being an auto adjuster, to eventually settling in the position of a property adjuster. The insurance industry is overwhelming and stressful. There’s no way around it. People are dependant on you to get their lives back in order when chaos hits. You are their banker, the person they call when a contractor doesn’t show up, you get the brunt of the anger when the contractor does show up and botches a job. You are the very first number their fingers dial when they pick up that phone.
The first half of 2018, I struggled. Every aspect of my life felt like it was in some form of upheaval and I was slowly losing grasp of the little control I had. I had heard whispers of dissatisfaction with my job performance, and I couldn’t blame them. I was not happy. Getting up and going to work was a daily struggle, something I had to talk myself into. Staying focused at work felt impossible. There was a constant stream of emails berating what I was or wasn’t doing. I would take direction only to turn around and be told by the same people that that’s not what was supposed to be done or it was done wrong. Really?
I had grand dreams of leaving my job and pursuing the things in life that I was passionate about. My co-workers were probably sick of hearing all my “one day…” fantasies. Why didn’t I just leave? Well that’s easy. Job security. Full Benefits. A pension. Maintaining the lifestyle I had built for myself and my family. And I couldn’t leave my work family. They were family. 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, over the course of 13 years with some of them. They knew me better than I knew myself. I don’t care what anyone says, to be able to look across your cubicle at your co-worker and simultaneously start singing “Baby Shark” out of nowhere shows true blue chemistry!
It all came to a head mid June. Work was busy, nerves were on edge, energy was drained & patience was non-existent. A verbal confrontation happened that had me filing a harassment grievance against my director. I was later suspended without pay for two days and left reeling.
4 weeks passed before my employer decided that the grievance should be taken seriously and action was taken. Interviews were conducted & statements given. Weeks went by with nothing. The whole time I was told that this must be treated with the utmost secrecy.
“We can not stress enough, you are to talk to no one about this.”
In this day and age, company’s are still breeding fear of repercussion should employees take a stand. How was it that in 2018 this was, and is to this day, STILL happening?
Do I regret my reaction to the situation? No. Was I ashamed of the suspension? Absolutely not. Did I really start to question why I was still there? Every damn minute of every damn day. I knew by filing the grievance I was sticking my head out for the head hunters to see. If there was a target on my back prior, it had now increased ten fold and even the blindest of eyes would be able to spot it. I knew every action I made going in and out of that building was being monitored. By September I had given up on taking full breaks, both lunch and throughout the day. I did not want to give anyone a reason to question what I was doing.
Weeks went by with nothing.
October 15th I met with 2 personnel who explained that the claim for what happened in June was considered harassment & action would be taken. I cried. Before I left, I was again told that it was of utmost importance to not let anyone know of the discussions had in the meeting that day.
The week prior to this meeting and the week after, I was brought into my acting directors office and questioned about my overtime reporting. There was a discrepancy in the time spent at the office and the time I had reported. It was an error on my part. Once I realised what happened, I took full responsibility of the error. In a previous entry I had shorted myself some time and it had been corrected by the director approving the OT. Naively enough, I thought they would do the same with this and did not give the situation much thought.
Here’s where the fuckening really comes into play.
On October 26th I received an email stating I had to meet with my acting director at 11:45 am. Within seconds of reading the email, I knew it wasn’t going to end well. I even said the words out loud “I think they’re going to fire me”. At 11:45am I sat down in a conference room with my Union rep and listened as someone who had once been my peer & mentor painted me a liar and questioned my character. I was being terminated.
“I truly wish you the best Chan.”
My termination letter was put in front of me and I was advised that I could clear my desk now, or make arrangements with my union rep to come back after 5pm. I was to leave the property immediately.
I refused to give them the satisfaction of seeing me cry. If there’s one thing the Insurance Industry gave me, it was a thick skin. And for once in my life, I said nothing.
They left and I broke down. I couldn’t breathe. All I could say and think is, what am I going to do now. This was all I knew. For 13 years I woke up and drove the same route to work and sat in the same office, with the same people, had the same conversations as we drank the same thing from Tim’s EVERY. DAMN. DAY. What was I going to do? By 11:55am, I was sitting in my vehicle driving away.
I sent a text to my girls in a group chat that I was now available for coffee any day of the week as I had been fired. I sent a text to one of my true blues with the words “they fired me”. I sent a text to my dad asking if he had anything available at the bakery because I was looking for a job. I sent a text to Eric saying I had been fired. I cried. I had become this person who had become defined by her career and where she spent her days. Now that it had been ripped out from under me, I was lost.
As I drove home that day Avril Lavigne’s “Head Above Water” was on the radio. I remember thinking how ironic it was, because in that moment I felt like I was drowning. I got home and sat on the couch. I stared at the wall. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I took a bath. I put “Head Above Water” on repeat and I cried until the tears no longer fell.
I was fired on a Friday and luckily enough was too busy driving kids from one hockey game and practice to another for the weekend to give my situation much thought. When Monday came, I was lost. I woke up and got the kids on the bus, having told them I took some time off. Then I sat on the couch and I stared at the wall. I ping ponged between being ashamed and being angry. Ashamed of getting fired, angry for feeling ashamed. I played the conversations over in my head, I questioned sticking my head out. I ignored texts and phone calls.
For a week I had allowed myself to sink into a depression that I worried I wouldn’t come out of. My days were spent going from my bed to the couch, then back to bed and sleeping. Afternoons were spent in a warm bath crying.
The Thursday after I had been let go, I knew I couldn’t keep living like this. It wasn’t me. I wouldn’t let it be me. So I made a deal with myself. I had until Sunday to feel sorry for myself. Come Monday morning I would pull myself together and get on with life. All I had ever wanted was more time to do the things I loved. Here I had been presented with that time, so I was going to make the best of it. I poured myself into my sign making, I answered texts, I was honest when asked if I was ok (sometimes yes, other times no), I answered the phone when it rang, I went for lunch and coffee when asked and more importantly I quit feeling ashamed.
Details are vague because I AM fighting this. I have a Union who’s backing me and I’m surrounded by people who believe in me. I don’t know what the outcome will be.
Sometimes blessings come in disguise.
So, 2019, bring it on.
I’m ready for ya.