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“Sometimes it takes a heartbreak to shake us awake and help us see we are worth so much more than we’re settling for.” ~ Mandy Hale
“I need to talk to you.”
Those were the words of my boss just before I got fired from my job a year ago.
I knew it was coming.
But at the time, it still felt like the biggest gut punch of my life. Only 8 months before, I’d left a satisfying job for the promise of getting into a new and exciting career.
I had no business being there.
Even before my first day, I was beginning to have second thoughts about the move though everything looked good on paper.
I’d heard how devastating losing a job can be. But since I’d never lost a job before, I had no idea what I was in for.
I simply was not prepared for the tsunami wave of emotion that came my way.
In short order, I became depressed. I felt ashamed and isolated. My marriage became strained.
And thoughts of suicide regularly invaded my mind. I was going down hill fast.
Reaching out in the midst of pain
I knew I needed to do something. I knew that much of my pain stemmed from the feeling of being isolated and beaten down.
The problem was that I felt so humiliated, embarrassed and ashamed to reach out for help.
This was supposed to be the big career move. I’d told everyone my dreams for success in this new field. Now I had to tell them how I’d failed miserably.
But somehow, through the fog of pain and shame, I reached out to friends and colleagues.
I also sought professional counseling. And I’m so glad I did.
The past year has been a journey of personal growth and self-discovery.
Additionally, because I reached out and was willing to do the hard work of rebuilding my life, I now have fulfilling work. And my marriage has grown deeper and stronger.
I am so grateful because things could have easily gone the other way.
I realized in this experience that life was summoning me to go deeper into myself. I am glad I was able and willing to accept the call.
If you find yourself in a similarly challenging situation, I know how difficult it is to feel like there’s no one you can talk to.
Even in this world of hyper-connectedness, most of us struggle with feeling lonely, misunderstood, and unsupported when times get tough.
Working through this life challenge has taught me otherwise. Here’s what I learned:
1. You are never alone, even when you’re alone
One of the surprising things I learned was that, before I could reach out to others effectively for help, I needed to be willing to reach out to myself.
I started verbally encouraging myself as if I was speaking to another person I cared about deeply. Tears were streaming down my face, but I said to myself over and over, “Never give up on yourself.”
This act of self-love allowed me to feel less alone. I found an inner strength that was able to be present with all my difficult thoughts and feelings. I didn’t run away from them, no matter how disturbing.
Because I was willing to reach out to myself, it was easier to eventually reach out to others for help.
2. Life will send you helpers along the way
A few weeks before losing my job, I was in a lot of emotional pain. I hated going to work but couldn’t find the wherewithal to quit. Though I’d been quietly searching for new work, I had few leads.
One evening as I was home pondering my options, a friend I hadn’t heard from in years texted me. He was living on the other side of the world but just happened to be in town and wanted to stop by.
I was so glad to see him. We spend the evening talking and our time together filled me with hope and encouragement.
I firmly believe he was sent my way just when I needed him most. He was the perfect person who appeared at the right time to help me work through my feelings and heartbreak.
3. Professional counseling can be a real lifeline when you’re dealing with heartbreak
Before this experience, I’d only had limited experience with professional counseling. And even though I encouraged others to seek counseling when warranted, I have always been slow to seek professional help myself.
That all changed when I felt like my life was falling apart before my eyes.
Now I understand the benefits of seeking professional counseling from the other side.
Counseling helped me understand what was happening inside me. More importantly, it helped me understand that what I was going through was normal.
It helped quiet all the negative voices in my head that made me feel like I was bad, abnormal, or deserving of my misfortune.
A new beginning
As I’ve reflected on this difficult period in my life, I see that life was preparing the way for a new beginning. I’ve experienced emotional and spiritual growth. I’ve become more empathetic to others going through hard times or heartbreak.
I could not have gotten through this without the help of other people. I am grateful to all the people who helped and encouraged me to move forward.
If you’re going through a difficult period, know that you are not alone.
Know that you too can reach out and you can find another hand to pull you back into the light.