Losing my job has been one of the best things that happened to me in some time. NO...I am NOT crazy! Well, maybe a little, but not about this. And before you go thinking of having me committed, let me do some explaining.
I am the first to admit that YES...unemployment is both an emotional struggle for me and a financial burden on my family. But...I have got to say that this time without a job taught me some very important lessons, revealed to me what is truly important, and has even strengthened some relationships.
I had not been happy at the job for some time. I was ready for change, but fear was holding me back from making such changes. Since the decision to leave was essentially made for me, I was gifted the opportunity (and necessity) to take inventory, make a change, and perhaps even bring myself to take a risk and follow some dreams.
Since, as you can imagine, the cash flow has changed, credit vs. debit is not as pretty a picture as it once was and I have been forced to examine my spending habits and make decisions on what is truly important. Our needs are being met, and often even our wants are, as well. But, I have had instance to cut back on some things and realized that perhaps they were never as important as I thought! Even the little things add up. Brewing DD french vanilla coffee at home instead of having them do it saves lots, making homemade meatball subs at home taste better than the local sub shop and are even fun to make, italian ice and frappes are no good for my figure anyway...and if you market it right, cheap, boring dinner can be turned into family fun night!
Which leads me to tell you how this whole ordeal has changed my relationships.
Going to work each day at a job that is not enjoyable or fulfilling tends to make one's mood and attitude a little less than desirable and makes said individual a bit difficult to live with. I will admit that I was snappy with my family, short-tempered getting my dear girl out the door to school and just generally not as pleasant as I should have been or would like to have been with my loved ones.
I cannot change all those mornings I turned into what we jokingly call "Psycho-Mom" and rushing my girl out the door so I could drag myself off to a job that didn't make me happy. Morning are much more pleasant these days! Between Ben's new job and my lack of a job at the moment, bedtime story duty has been turned over to me and I gotta tell ya...I LOVE IT! Right now my girl and I are reading the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Dahl and I can't wait each night to snuggle tight with Em in her bed, say our bedtime prayers and find out what happens next with Charlie and Mr. Wonka! We're more than halfway through and I'm already thinking of what we can conjure up for our next special book together!
I admit that I haven't seen as big a change in my marriage. I think it was pretty good already, but I would assume (and hope) that Ben would tell you that I'm more fun and pleasant to be around and don't complain quite as much!
Those are the changes right here in my little family of three. But I've also seen some other family changes as well. Since having more "free" time and the chance to think about what matters, I have been checking in on and visiting with my dad a bit more during the day. I'd like to think that I have forever with him, but the reality is that he is getting older and does have some health issues.
I have always had a good relationship with my parents, but was always closer to my mother. I think that, in part, it's due to the fact that growing up as a girl, my father worked evenings and it was my mother who was around, played taxi driver and "ran the show"! I always knew that my "daddy" loved us, was proud of us, and gave us the time he had to give. He did what he had to do to provide for our family. But, I'll admit it was tough not having him around after school, at the dinner table or even bedtime. So...this chance that I've been given to take my mug of coffee and go sit and chat with my dad is a gift I would never think of exchanging!
Last, but certainly not least, is my sister (who's three years older than me). Growing up, I always viewed her as "perfect". She was an A student, danced, played sports, played music, could sing...she just (in my eyes) was perfect at everything! Growing up in her shadow was not always easy. I often felt like I didn't measure up. Feelings of inferiority and jealousy often came into play and I think it affected our relationship some. Lately, I have really come to the point of realizing that we're just different, have taken different paths and made different choices. Remember this post on our choices?
My sister now has her own business and has written a book that is due to come out very soon! After I lost my job, she brought me on board with a little freelance project to proofread and edit her draft of the book. Although the subject matter isn't "my thing", I enjoyed reading it and getting a glimpse into her work. It also gave me a little purpose and motivation on those days that I started to feel a bit sorry for myself and my lack of employment.
But most importantly...I was having frequent conversations with my sister and sharing some really great laughs. As I said before, at times, jealousy and feeling like I didn't live up to her "greatness" added with the fear of interrupting her busy life affected my relationship with her. I really enjoyed this little project with her and have really been enjoying her company (even if it is just via smartphone or email). I hope she'd agree that it's been fun!
To answer the question I posed in the title of my post, I'd say I have gained WAY MORE than I have lost!The conclusion I have come to is that family is really the most important thing. A fancy title at work, going out to fancy restaurants or wearing designer clothes mean NOTHING in comparison to knowing at the end of the day that I gave all I had to give to those I love.