Friday, December 14, 2007

Messy break-ups

OK, this is definitely the last time I shall mention getting sacked two days ago. After this one I promise to stop obsessing about it. (Or, at any rate, to stop writing obsessively about it.)

It has been occurring to me that there are certain parallels between being dumped from a job and being dumped by a lover.

For example, in both cases you'd generally rather be the dumper than the dumpee, because it gives you a sense of control. Even if the relationship/job was utterly unsatisfactory, and you were glad to be rid of it, you'd probably rather have had the opportunity to walk out (yes, flounce out, even) than be told it was over by the other party.

And even if, objectively, it's no great loss, that's not how it feels at the time: there is an emotional impact that surprises you with its intensity.

Partly, I think it's disorientation - the sudden removal of what has been a major structural component of your life for some weeks or months or years leaves you confused, destabilised, floundering. The patterns of your life, habits that had become cosy and familiar (even if there was nothing very satisfying in them per se), are uprooted at a single stroke.

There's a disappointment of future expectations too. You've worked through things you'd like to do in your imagination; you may even have started making firm and detailed plans for some of them. To have all of that suddenly whisked away from you is a bitter blow.

I think that is where I am suffering particularly at the moment. I had made a commitment to this job for a one-year minimum. I had anticipated, in fact, that I would stick with it until at least this time next year. I thought they had made a similarly long-term commitment to me. And I had begun to imagine in some detail how I would like to develop the job, what I would like to achieve in it. Also, I confess, I had foolishly allowed myself to start making financial calculations based around it (the pay wasn't very good, but at least I was able to save most of it - and some of it was being paid back in the UK). I find it hugely frustrating - infuriating - to have all of those plans thwarted like this.

Although I was less than wholly enthused about the company, or about certain of my workmates, I had become dangerously emotionally invested in the job itself. I was starting to build some close relationships with certain of the partner teaching centres, starting to make progress in helping them to improve their administration and their teaching, was becoming cautiously optimistic about actually achieving some worthwhile results for the poor bloody students at the end of this year. All my babies.......

And then, of course, there is the raging sense of injustice. Not only has this firing not been well handled in terms of its timing and delivery, but there was just no good reason for it. How often have you felt that about the end of a love affair? You're always tempted to argue the issue, to try to persuade the other party to change their mind..... but it's never going to work, and you're probably only going to piss them off...... and jeopardise whatever chance there might be of maintaining a friendly - or at least civil - relationship in the future.

And yes, perhaps too there is the element of assault on the ego. I like to think I have a pretty robust ego: such assaults are not likely to induce any crises of self-doubt in me. But even the strongest ego is sensitive to pain; and to be told that you are not loved or appreciated (where you thought you were) is one of the worst wounds the tender ego can suffer.

And, well, I say no crises of self-doubt, but.... when you lose something or someone you care about, when the ending of a relationship is not entirely of your choosing, it's impossible not to ask yourself, "What did I do wrong?" And this is a particularly troubling question for me, both in the sphere of my working life and in my romantic relationships. Because I have been a complete disaster in both. I have fairly rarely found a job I was genuinely excited about. I have very little confidence in applying for jobs, because my ratio of success over the years is vanishingly small. Even on the few occasions when I have come close to landing a 'dream job', Fate has intervened somehow to thwart my prospects. And when I have been in a job, I've just about never managed to keep it for more than 6 months. And it's exactly the same with women.

Really. I kid you not - the parallel is uncanny!

Whereas I seem to be able to inspire a huge amount of affection and respect in my friends or former students and even, I think, in most of my work colleagues (even, indeed, in some people that I know only as e-penpals or blog-readers), I signally fail to do this with employers.... or women that I am attracted to. Why, oh why??


argonox said...

I'm so sorry to hear you got fired :( And with no proper explanation-- that's truly sucky. Here's to hoping something better is around the corner!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be a bit of a naughty boy here and suggest that in the spirit of the Led Zep reunion it is time you became a lurrve machine again. English Roses have become thornbushes and age has withered them, but the Murph we know and love remains, like one of Thos Bewick's woodcut heroes, ploughing through the winter snow. Connect with humanity and connect with work, both feed off each other.

Yours in 1927 port,

David Ll O