I’m currently sorting through my old paperwork and in amongst the details of my mortgage and tax statements I have invoices for old cars and instructions for TVs that I no longer have. Yet I also rediscovered one of the most important letters I have ever received, my termination of employment from a certain opticians*.
It would seem odd to be happy to find a letter that says you are no longer wanted, and at the time there was some bitterness about it, but like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park life found a way and I now realise it was one of the best things ever to happen to me. This isn’t one of those thoughts I have while crying into a glass of scotch trying to convince myself it was good, but a genuine belief that being discarded by them gave me a helping hand to have a better life. I owe them a certain amount of thanks for how my life has turned out since then.
They have also given me a benchmark for how bad life can be, and it allows me to see the same in others. No job is worth your mental health and as the opposite of the saying goes, what goes down must come up. Even when I start to feel a low in life coming on I remember that the important thing is to bounce.
At the time I was a mess
Life was pretty screwed up. I had a job I didn’t enjoy and was alone and on the verge of a complete breakdown. Rather than try to help me through it, HR and my manager understood what was making me unhappy and decided to do something about it. So instead of using a band-aid to cover up the festering wound they decided to go for the amputation (that would be the creating a redundancy) to save me. In these situations it can be very difficult to tell someone “no it is you”, but by replacing me with someone else within a few months I know it was their way of saying this.
It may have seemed a bit callous to do this the Friday before my 30th birthday, but at least I could celebrate entering my third decade with a weight off my shoulders.
At the time people kept telling me how sorry they were that this company who shall not had let me go, but I had to tell them that this was an opportunity to claim my life back. I had been given my freedom and I was not going to let my life be torn apart again.
I like to think that being treated during the whole redundancy process (I say process but really, deciding in five days is not a ‘consultation’…I may have been medically crazy but they never diagnosed me as stupid) as someone who wasn’t there allowed me to decide how I was going to recreate myself, I was in the flames and had to decide whether I would burn to ashes or rise like a Phoenix.
In the end I decided on become a slightly charred legendary bird.
I went on holiday, got a new job (well technically jobs – I’m in my third one since I was declared redundant, but jobs I chose to leave), made new friends and feel in love. In fact without the butterfly flapping its wings in Birmingham the weather may have never changed in New York. The ripples from one event will have effects across the small pond that is my life, but Professor Brian tells me they will have zero effect on the entropic waves of the time sea.
In the years since I left I have never said “Thank you unnamed opticians”, but I now know that without that misplaced act of mercy I would not be the father of a little dinosaur. I would not be in a job that I love and enjoy. I would not have some of the amazing friends I now have. I would not have my wife. I would not have my sanity.
Thanks Victorian sounding opticians, thanks. You helped me more than anyone else in my life because you made me realise that even in the darkest of nights there will still always be a dawn, and being ophthalmologists helped me see clearer than ever before.
*In the initial draft of this post I did include the name of the company that
fired me made me redundant, I then had a change of heart due to the fact that is run by lawyers. If the company had little problem making someone suffering with depression redundant, and then send them home by themselves and not tell anyone, then replace them in a role that was supposedly no longer needed I can’t help but feel they would be happy enough to take a blog read by two people and a cat to court for defamation or slander.