When you've spent a quarter of your life -- yes, that's 25% -- with a group of people, they tend to become family. It's like a family reunion every day at work. The little brother, the loud cousin, the weird uncle, the whole gang's there. Some days you want to kill each other, but others they're the only things that gets you through the day. So it was with me at USA WEEKEND, and the day I was laid off, I felt like someone had died.
I wasn't sad to leave my job. I'd outgrown it, and I was miserable. But I got home that morning and I kept crying. I know part of that was being hurt at having my job eliminated and the delivery of the news, but that wasn't what kept the tears coming. It was the emails, IM's and text messages I was getting from my family.
The news spread like wildfire, and while I felt like I'd been betrayed by one person I'd considered family, I was worried about the effect my departure would have on others, and I was moved beyond words at the outpouring of support from some unexpected places. I also felt a large hole growing in my life. After spending five days a week with these people, I left within 20 minutes of being laid off, no chance to say goodbye.
Well, last night, I got to rectify that.
I drove over to a restaurant near the office to meet some of my former coworkers after work. I knew it would be good for me, but I had no idea how good. For a couple of hours, we laughed, drank sangria and reminisced. I told them how everything happened and how I was doing. They told me what had transpired in the office after I left. It was closure for all of us, and for me, reassurance that my family hadn't forgotten me and would stay in my life -- to some extent anyway. I felt so full and happy and warm (and no, it wasn't the sangria).
There are so many times I feel alone and isolated. I'm wired a little differently, and not everyone understands me. I scare the hell out of others. (Ha!) But last night, I was connected to people who, with the exception of my husband, have influenced my life the most for the past nine years. I felt loved.
I know it's idealistic, but I think companies would do well to realize how much like family work really is and play to those dynamics. They should certainly take them into consideration in dealing with their employees. People need to say goodbye. Criminal behavior aside, they need to clean out their own desks, send out one last email with their contact info and say goodbye to a place and people that have been integral in their daily life.
Thankful doesn't even begin to describe what I am to the people who came to see me off last night (and those who wanted to come and couldn't). My ship is now sailing on without an anchor dragging behind me, knowing I'll see my family again at the next port. I am blessed.