Fort|Thress :: A Stronghold for Creative Expression on the Web



January 11, 2002

Carl Thress | Thursday, January 13, 2011

We all have significant dates that stick in our minds. Birthdays. Anniversaries. First kisses. First jobs. But not all of the dates we remember have positive memories associated with them. One such date for me is January 11, 2002.

It’s a date I remember vividly, and one I would just as soon forget. It’s the day I lost the only job I didn’t leave of my own volition. The day an employer told me I was not needed or wanted. The day I had to come home to my wife and 13-month-old son and tell them we no longer had a steady income to rely on. The day I went from breadwinner to basketcase. The day I lost my bearings.

My whole life, I had defined myself first by my success in school, then later by my job and career. Now, that was gone, and I was left wondering which way to turn.

I haven’t written about this topic before, and I probably won’t write about it again. But for some reason, I feel compelled to write about it now. For some reason, the growing sense of dread that accompanies January 11 each year has been a little keener this time around. Perhaps because our younger son is about the same age his brother was in 2002, and so it feels a little rawer than it has in a long time.

Whatever the reason, here I sit, writing and hoping the words that move from mind to fingers to computer screen will somehow provide a bit of catharsis. I have a feeling they will. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself right now.

It’s been nine years since that day, and much has changed in that time. Our son has grown into a fine young man. I have a steady job, with good pay and great coworkers who I consider friends. My wife and I are doing well. And we have a second child, now 15 months, who has filled our lives with a whole new round of diapers, bottles, sleepless nights, and all the other joys and wonders that come with those first two years of life.

All in all, I have little to complain about. I know others have it far worse than me and that I was very blessed to have the support of a loving family and friends who saw me through the tough times that followed that fateful Friday afternoon. Not to mention my faith, which always seems to ground me a bit when I hit this kind of snare.

But even as I look back at all the wonderful things that have happened in the last nine years, I can’t help but feel at least some sadness and loss. A part of me died that day, as I sat in my supervisor’s office, absorbing the news, and later, as I drove home for the last time, exactly one week after my 32nd birthday.

This was supposed to be my career. Layoffs happened to other people, not me. I was too important... too vital... too smart... too whatever. How could they discard me like yesterday’s news? Was I really that dispensable?

I had hitched my wagon to a star. Unfortunately, like Icarus, I had flown a bit too close and got burned. I was left feeling bitterness, anger, resentment, self-doubt, and self-loathing. A pretty toxic combination of emotions. Trust me.

For a long time, our family struggled to make ends meet. I freelanced for a while, and many of the contacts I had made over the years came through big for me during that time. So did my wife and son, along with our extended families. We’re still dealing with some of the aftershocks, but overall, we can’t complain.

All that being said, I’d be lying if I told you that cocktail of feelings had completely gone away. For the most part it has, but I still struggle sometimes when I think about it or when something reminds me of that time. Something like the date on the calendar rolling around to January 11 each year.

Stepping down from my soapbox and depositing two pennies in the jar...

blog comments powered by Disqus

Background image from MorgueFile.