I was fired.
Yep, there it is. I said it. The event that robbed me of the past two months of my life and my joy. I have been so ashamed to admit that it happened, but not anymore. I needed these past two months to heal, to cope, to move on. It was like I was living in a coma where reality felt so warped and grey, where I couldn't see the future.
The word "fired" sends shards of flames through my skin like daggers. Being fired from your first real job is a feeling I can only describe as soul-crushing, especially how it happened to me in particular.
The day I was fired was the most traumatic, horrible day of my life, and it was handled in the most unethical, dehumanizing way. I don't even know exactly what I did wrong as my manager wouldn't tell me. My manager had something against me from day one. I could tell by how he, along with my coworkers, ostracized me. He also was ridiculously critical of my work, yet when I would ask for help to improve, he would be vague and never make time to help me. It got to the point where I had anxiety attacks before work because he was just that hostile.
So it was the end of the day on a Friday. My manager had come over to my desk and told me he needed me to shut my monitor off and follow him downstairs. He was not answering me when I asked him why/what was happening, and I felt very uneasy. I didn't know where he was taking me, why he wasn't making eye contact, why he wasn't talking to me. I felt myself disconnecting as if I was watching myself from above my own body.
The VP from our department was there, giving me this hateful glare. I felt very trapped and helpless. I remember the sound of the sliding door shutting behind me, sealing me in.
My manager sat me down across from him, looking at me with the most emotionless, dark, penetrative stare that I for the life of me will never forget, and said blankly "Maria, due to how you soiled a policy relationship with one of our employers (I actually didn't and I have proof), plus all your failures to meet my standards or even attempt to improve as I expected, we are terminating you as an employee."
At that moment, I felt the life drain out of me. I felt pale. It felt like an out of body experience. I went into disassociation mode-survival mode-and just concentrated on the next minutes ahead. Worse was that they literally had to escort me as if I were a criminal to my desk and stood, arms crossed, as I just robotically threw the few items I cared about in my bag. Then they brought me downstairs, and all my manager did was say a cold, insincere "good luck."
No handshake, no signs of professionalism or respect.
I ran right out not even looking back. I made it to the corner before I just collapsed to the ground in tears. I never cried so hard in my 22 years of life. I rarely ever cry. It was sobs that literally made my whole body shake. I couldn't even breathe. I felt dead. I felt like someone ripped the soul from my body. It felt like a nightmare. I remember calling my father and sobbing. He cried too. I only cried harder knowing how much he was hurting for me. I equate what I was feeling at that moment to being lost in the middle of the ocean with no raft. I then called my friends, who have never even seen me shed a tear, and bawled my eyes out to them, too.
I felt like a waste, a failure, like my years of hard work in school meant utterly nothing now. I was angry, I was sad, I was scared. Scared that I would never find another job. Scared about the possibility of having to leave Portland and go back to my hometown, which I worked so hard to get out of. Scared that I was doomed to never succeed in life.
The next few months were very dull. I barely smiled. I barely ate. I couldn't sleep. I would repeatedly get flashbacks to the day I was fired which made me physically ill. Every day I thought about how I might have to leave my dream apartment which only made me more anxious.
My only solace was applying to jobs.
And thank goodness I did, as my determination to come out on top has finally paid off with an excellent job offer. I swear the moment I got that call, I felt the life flood back into me, and a huge weight lifted from my tired shoulders.
I feel so free now, so alive, so at peace, and most of all, myself. I feel stronger than ever and know that things can only get better from here. My friends and family have been literal saints during this time, offering so much love and support and never any judgment.
The storm is over. I can finally, effortlessly, breathe again.