Recently a friend lost her home - had to do a short sale and lost everything. She used to work with the rich and famous of LA. Her friends could not accept her circumstances and they shunned her.
Most of us have done it at some point in our lives though its not something we care to admit. That aunt that is diagnosed with cancer or the friend that tells you they are HIV positive; We have the best of intentions but somehow we just never get around to the hospital as often as we meant.
I think its denial. There but for the grace of God go we. And perhaps we don't want to believe that only God's grace has spared us. What does that mean for our sense of being in control? And what if we don't believe in God? How can we possibly cope with the idea of chaos and the realisation that there is no such thing as security?
I don't put much stock in the idea of security. I am unemployed. I'm a professional and I am unemployed. I have 'outgo' and no 'income'. And, I don't know when that situation will reverse. Since I left the job, those who were 'so-called' friends have not had the time in their busy lives to meet for lunch or a coffee or an after work drink. Nobody has even called or sent an email to say hello. Never mind that...they don't even return my calls. People I worked with every day for 6 years have no time for me.
I am a pariah. There but for the grace of God go they. And if they don't look at me, perhaps they will avoid turning into a pillar of salt.
Friends who are seasonally employed and are living in a $400 a week unemployment safety net, and those who are continuing to earn a paycheck at a job they despise have both told me that I am sooo lucky to be unemployed when the weather is so fine. They have told me that I have time for myself now.
For any of you who may perhaps likewise feel the need to put a rosy shine on others misfortunes....please don't. It is patronising and insulting.
Frankly, nobody is lucky to be unemployed. If you're lucky enough to qualify for unemployment assistance and are getting that $400 a week you have some safety net but you may be shocked to know that more than 50% of workers (like myself) do not qualify for that kind of help. In the UK, if you qualify (which I don't), the dole is maxed at £65.45 a week. None of the 2.5 million British workers that want to work and can't find employment are lucky. Every minute you are unemployed you are draining your savings and there is no 'time for oneself.'
In order to find a job in this competitive market, it takes one hell of a lot of work. For every interview, I have researched the industry for the past six months, researched the company, their financials and their history. I have done competitor and market analysis, have looked at their values and their strategy and have done a consulting piece of work on each of them should I be called on to give a presentation on my ideas for future strategy. I have reviewed all of my technical studies as an accountant and I prepare for each interview as if it is a test. And it is. The next one is a panel interview where they will be putting me on the spot with an instant case study and presentation. These are no cake walks. When I am preparing for interviews, I am working from 9 am till 10 or 11 pm.
And bear in mind...I'm a professional. I have recruiters searching out jobs for me. I'm one of the fortunate ones.
If I'm feeling misunderstood, I know there must be millions of others out there that feel similarly, or, who perhaps feel worse because they've applied for hundreds of jobs and not had a single call. I've applied for work in Canada at the same time as London. I've not had a single call from Canada.
It is demoralising and as a society we cannot afford to turn our backs on a growing minority of the population that is running on the edge of homelessness and ruin. We cannot afford to be telling them how lucky they are that they may soon get the opportunity to be sleeping al fresco when the weather is so fine.
I know I'm angry...and on top of this anger and frustration...there is the simultaneous ending of the relationship. I was embarassed for so long to tell anyone because he treated me so shabbily in the end.
I feel misunderstood in that too. My grief over that has been delayed by the necessity of taking care of my basic needs of finding a job. But when I stop for a few moments, thoughts of him come flooding over me and its heart-breaking. We say all kinds of things and profess our love when we're in a relationship...and the minute its over, we are nobody to one another anymore. I was with him nearly 2 years. And the day I found out that I was leaving my job, he decided he had to end things. It had to be that very day. I was immediately reminded of the boy who broke up with my niece two days after her father died. I think the situation made him uncomfortable and he didn't want to deal with death, so he dumped her.
I loved another man once - we were together for a similar length of time. We broke up just before I found out my mother had cancer. When I got the diagnosis, I called him. He had been my best friend and I needed to talk with him. Even when he started seeing someone else, she and he both understood that I was going through a difficult time and they were there for me. After my mother's death, we slowly drifted apart but I am always grateful to him and I know that even though we weren't meant to be together, when we were together our love and friendship was genuine. He demonstrated that by caring for me in my dark hours, even though we'd broken up.
The latest ex has never sent an email to see if I'm ok. Like I said, it seems hard for people to understand that it is still a loss that is heartbreaking to me. They expect I should be happy. I'm lucky to be out of it. But believe me, nobody is lucky to feel unloved and discarded. It is never the loss of a bad situation that we grieve. Its the loss of the good times and of the feeling that someone loved you and in the end, it is the heartbreaking realisation that from their side, your relationship was apparently built on nothing. Nothing. And once again, you feel like a pariah.
I feel worn out. I am worn out. The last six years have been one trauma after another. I need a healing time in my life and I am selecting my next job based on whether I feel it will be stressful or whether I will be able to heal.
I know it was an extravagence I probably should not have taken at this point, but I am close to a job offer. So, I took a trip to Berlin last week. I needed to revive myself and there was somewhere I really wanted to go - the Kaiser Wilhelm church. It is both an old and a new church. On the site of the bombed out ruins of a church, a new church has been installed. The old church is a reminder of the traumas of war while the new church is a beacon of healing and reconcilliation. I needed to go there and be in the healing power of that 360 degree blue light.
It was 37 degrees and I felt I might pass out. But I sat in the blueness of the room for as long as I could. I noticed on the side, a man who appeared to be sleeping. Churches often attract the homeless. They are certainly the refuge of the unfortunate. I looked at him awhile. His top teeth were missing and he looked 90 years old; drawn and gaunt. But the more I gazed upon him the more I realised he was no older than me. I realised he was a young man. I realised this man either had cancer or AIDS and was close to death. He hadn't been sleeping but had put his head back and closed his eyes and was listening, in rapture, to the sound of the pipe organ.
I felt very strongly that God was with this man that day. You may not believe, and that is fine. But, I do believe that God is with everyone who is experiencing misfortune, because they are all pariahs. Jesus loved the outcasts. And for that, I am grateful - for my friend who lost her house, for me, and for him. We know that suffering deepens the soul and the release of suffering is the route to transcendence.
But please, spare us a lecture telling us how lucky we are for it.