The hardest thing about being made redundant is the feeling of having absolutely no control over what is happening to you.
It’s not often you find yourself in that situation and when the thing you’ve lost control of is basically the most important thing in your life, your career, it’s really difficult to take in.
The day it happened to me is still so clear in my mind, despite it being almost three years ago. I still feel like I’m reliving the moment my boss called me to the little room in the far corner of the office.
He said to me, “please don’t worry Amy, it will all be okay”.
“You have no idea”, I wanted to scream at him. This was nothing short of a disaster for me.
He wasn’t to know that I was eleven weeks pregnant at the time and terrified about the effect the stress of that day would have on my unborn child.
Such was the shock of that experience; I had nightmares about it for many months afterwards. I still think about it now, as I lay in bed at night, and each time I do my blood runs cold.
Redundancy affects people in so many different ways:
I knew I would eventually become the latter, I just couldn’t work out how I was going to get to that point. Things could have been far worse, I knew others who had mortgages to pay and children to feed, but that didn’t take away from the pain I was feeling. It was all so unfair.
You see, when I finished university nearly 10 years ago, my move into the working world sadly coincided with the country going into a recession. After that, my career path went somewhat ‘off track’.
I took on various jobs, from supervising in a restaurant to looking through people’s bins (with their permission, obviously!), but none of the roles offered any opportunities to develop. That was until I got my first permanent job and the first that paid over £20,000 a year (for a graduate it seemed ludicrous that I had been on no more than £16,000 until I was almost thirty).
The position not only brought with it a chance to use my skills but also the peace of mind that I had a secure job that I could start using to plan long term. Waiting to be in this position was the main reason I had held off so long to start a family and being so settled was the main reason I chose to go ahead with the pregnancy.
When I lost my job I didn’t just lose my income: I lost my plans for the future and all the pride I felt for the hard work I’d done. All that effort seemed to count for nothing and I was terrified to face that uphill struggle for employment all over again.
The world was passing me by.
When I look back on that day now I always picture myself being thrown off a moving train: I’m safe at the side of the tracks, but watching the world continue to pass me by and I don’t really know how to get back on.
For a while that’s exactly how being made redundant felt: life was the blur of a fast moving train. I couldn’t think coherently and, to be honest, I didn’t want to because there was so much to process.
For the first few days I just felt numb. I couldn’t do anything useful, I don’t think I even used social media (if you know me, you’ll know what a big deal that was!).
I couldn’t go back to my own flat which I’d moved into just six months before, it hurt too much. Moving there had been the start of a wonderful new life for me: a settled life where I was finally living in a place I loved, close to a job that was helping me develop.
My head was spinning and I just needed to be somewhere different, somewhere I could cut myself off from everyday life. Luckily for me, I had an incredibly supportive partner who asked me to move in with him straight away.
But, while he was at work it was very lonely and as much as I tried to distract myself with chocolate and box-sets of my favourite TV series, no amount of Ross Poldark could take my mind off what happened.
So many people have said to me, “it’s not personal, you mustn’t think it is something you did wrong”. But I just can’t seem to agree with them, no matter how much I think about it.
I have always been a great believer in hard graft, often complimented on my ability to get my head down and just ‘do what needs to be done’. I was never one to play games or boast about what I had achieved, I just got on with it.
For months I beat myself up about this, I was forced to question everything I had done and, worse, everything I believed in. I hated that I had allowed myself to be walked over, for years I had watched people being tactical with the jobs they chose to do and the people they chose to work with, but I always shied away from that approach.
You spend quite a bit of time feeling resentful of the people that are left behind too, why me and not them? How had my approach to work been the one that was wrong? It made me question huge parts of my own personality.
You see, when I was made redundant, something shifted in me. A part of me will never be the same, the part that trusted people and tried to put the needs of others first.
With a little help from my friends…
There was one good thing to come from all of this: I was humbled by the way my closest friends rallied round to help me through the fallout. My lovely partner Luke is included in that.
My best friends told me to write a list of all the things I would be able to do now I didn’t have to trudge into the office every day. And so I did: top of the list were ‘spend a week with my parents’, ‘find places to go for walks’ and ‘get back to writing’.
I looked around Luke’s flat with Captain Ross smiling toplessly at me from the television screen and literally felt my vision start to become less blurry, my head less fuzzy.
As things stood, I had no idea what was going to happen next but I did know it would all work out okay, it had to. Having my list to focus on didn’t stop the hurt I was feeling, but it helped a little to clear the way to better times.
Without thinking about it, I felt myself reach down to my tummy, placing a protective hand on the bump that hadn’t yet started to show. In the mess of all that was going on, there was only one thing that really mattered.
This blog was first published in January 2017, it was the first piece I wrote and the inspiration for Mum Full of Dreams. I have come such a long way since then, and there is still a long way to go! I hope you will join me on the rest of my journey.