I stopped and thought. And found something I wrote back in 2012. When everything seemed gloomy and depressing, lonely and worthless. I know it might look long; but I could not change a word of it… pls, stick with it
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So, one day you wake up, you get ready and you go to work. The next day you wake up and you don’t get ready to go to work. You are not on holiday. You are off work, unemployed, on the street. For fun you might change your status and info on Facebook: Current employment: employed at Unemployed (it seems that Facebook does not allow you to be simply: unemployed).
What next? You gather your documents, your P45, your last wage slip, your National Insurance Number and you make that fatal call to the JobCentrePlus: it takes minutes or hours (in my case: hours, which became days) to explain everything and every single detail. You fill in forms, you talk to the lucky ones employed at the JCP and you wait in line. You are told what to do, where to do it and exactly when to do it. You sit and wait. And you look around at the other people who, like you, sit and wait.
What are they thinking about? One whistles, one talks on his mobile, one checks her nails, one has the colour freshly done with those horrible black markings around the forehead and around her ears. You start thinking: I would never employ anyone of them: that is too scruffy, this is too uninteresting, she is too loud, he is too ignorant, that’s way too rude…
Then, it downs on you: you are in that queue, too.
You are, for any reason, without a paid occupation. And you are becoming too argumentative, too patronizing, too pathetic. They might have technical or manual skills you do not have; they might have family issues you do not have; they might have health problem you are lucky not to have.
You are there, we are all there for the same reason: to beg for the State to pay us some money every couple of weeks so that we can buy food, petrol and pay our bills.
Whatever the reason you are now unemployed (Company run out of money, your position is no longer available, you are not enough qualified, you have done something wrong, nobody wants you, you are unemployable, you have got too many tattoos, et.) you need money to survive in this society. Whatever happened before, whatever kind of life you lead before, it does not exist any more.
And if you are like me, you have no mother, no father, no family to fall back to, no kids, no partner and are living in a country which is not yours by birth. You are Ms No One.
You have degrees, many hours of expertise on your shoulders, you read many books; have certificates, dreams and hopes. But you are still in line.
Your rhythms, your daily patterns, your expenses, your thoughts, your behaviour, all this and more will change. Your relationships with other people will change. Your attitude towards reading the newspapers or watching TV will change. What you will talk about will change: you will moan, you will beg, you will be depressed. The people around you will change. Going out on a Friday night with your work mates? A bit difficult now. You will find yourself with a lot of time in your hands and will not understand why you cannot talk, see, visit people at any hour of the day. This is why: they are working.
You will discover a new town: at 12pm it is going to be you, others unemployed, mothers with kids and pensioners around. You might find yourself recognizing the old chap who buys the same lunch everyday and sits in the same spot and makes the same comments. Everyday. You will start unpretentiously listening to the conversations at the tables next to you: the school, the bills, a mourning, a family friend who run away with the neighbour, looking forward to catch up the following day. You will smile to that old lady with lilac hair who struggles walking up the road and one Thursday you will wonder why she is not out any more. You will talk about the weather, the price of pies, the best sandwich in town, which is the strongest tea, the 3 for 2, the buy-one-get-one-free, the football match, the cricket you knew nothing about before, the races, the betting, the documentaries on TV you considered silly and for ‘thick people only’, before. Not to mention the doctors, prescriptions and medication. And you will cringe when one day you will hear your voice talking about ‘the old days when I was working’. You are getting unhappily comfortably old. Where are now your slippers and pipe, or your needles and wool? Have you started considering gardening coupled with a weekly trip to B&Q?
You will realize that, since you now have so much time on your hands, everybody is asking you favours: can you do this? can you do that? can you look after my children, can you come and clean, can you… do you mind… would you… could you… if only you… just because you don’t work. Volunteering for friends and family: the new unspoken form of slavery. You feel that too many people are now expecting something from you: the JCP is expecting you to fill in all the forms and go there every two weeks at a precise time and you should actively look for a job everyday for at least three hours on the internet (which, thanks to Facebook, become five); your parents might be expecting you to go round daily ‘just for a chat, you know’; your partner is expecting you to clean the house, get dinner ready, do the pots, the shopping and the ironing because you don’t work; your friends expect you to watch their kids, help them out building that shed, organizing that barbecue, to listen to their moaning about their managers/marriages; your neighbour is expecting you to move the car, mown the lawn, sort your yard; the council is expecting you to pay the taxes and fill in the bins properly; the bank is expecting you to pay the mortgage and all you are expecting to is actually to turn into an ostrich. And because they work and, of course, they are stressed, they all shout at you.
On the other hand, your thought might shift from: ‘I have paid taxes all my life and hence I am owed money’; to ‘Thank the Lord I’m getting something this week. Pies are only £1.50 down the road’. You will dread hearing people making comments about ‘all those who cannot find a job and I’m paying all these taxes to support them’ and ‘look, all those foreigners milking the system’; or ‘Britain First’.
You will desperately look for your job, the one you have studied for and got a degree in and have been paid for till the previous month (Me, washing pots in Restaurant? No chance, I am a PA) then you will look for anything that comes around (What, am I over-qualified to wash some stupid pots?!? Why haven’t I studied Pot Washing AdvCert at Uni!), then you might even find yourself comfortable in not doing anything and just being at home watching TV.
You might start feeling depressed, having a bit of stomach ache, feeling down, sad, very tired, feeling sleepy, bloated, heavy, shaky, constipated, headaches that don’t go away, prone to flu – cold feeling. You will realize that your sleep patterns have changed because, hey! there is a movie on TV at 11.45pm and who cares if it is late: tomorrow I don’t have to go to work. So, the next day you wake up at 11am. Or one evening you realize you haven’t eaten anything the whole day and wait! I don’t even remember what (or if…) I have eaten anything the day before.
Or many nights you will go to bed thinking what you should pay the following day. But you haven’t got the money. And you wake up feeling tired already still thinking about who or what you should pay. So, the easiest way out is stopping to answer the phone. The next step is not opening the mail you get. And then you don’t answer the door, you don’t go out any more. You don’t wash yourself nor dishes and pots which pile up in the sink. You live in your pyjama on the sofa among crumbs and fags. But, hey! you know all the stories that go on on Corrie. Or who goes out with whom, who split up with whom: what an achievement… Your days are just one long movie with four gipsies and a big brother who get strictly married at a border with some Australian police force during the Second World War and they all go dining together after having been relocated via a time machine in the 60s in just a heart-beat. The Grand Design of your Life written by Mrs Cookson. Carry on, Sophie!
What was one single problem has become a huge mountain of problems, letters, unwashed hair and teeth, unpaid bills and unanswered phone calls you don’t know how to address.
You blame your Company, you blame the State, you blame your ex colleagues, you blame your family, your friends, the ‘foreigners’, the double-recession, the Euro zone; your phone company for the upgrade you did not need, your bills Sky-high (I still watch only Poirot, anyway), your new car (I’m single, why did I buy a 7-seater?), the new sofa in a colour that does not match your mood (‘makes me sick now!), the new windows (who cares for a bit of draft?), the new carpet (I could have cleaned it), that holiday in the Caribbean (what’s wrong with Lytham?).
You blame yourself. And you blame God.
You get angry and bitter. You don’t know what to do and hence you do nothing. Besides maybe drinking and smoking too much.
One day you look at yourself in the mirror and you notice all those down-facing lines around your mouth and realize you haven’t smiled in ages.
Let us now take some steps back:
So, one day you wake up, you get ready and you go to work. The next day you wake up and you don’t get ready to go to work. You are not on holiday. You are off work, unemployed, on the street.
What do you do? ++
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…and then I’m looking at myself now: thanks to being unemployed I went back to college, I attuned myself to my vocation, I studied, I learned about myself, I discovered humility, compassion and Nichiren Buddhism (no need to blame God now); I got a cat, I fell in and out of love, I laughed and cried; I embraced my past, my parent’s addiction and my co-dependency, bought a house, got a divorce and The Resting Tree was born.
Three years and three months.
September 2012 – January 2016: many things can happen.
So, if you and I are both having a bad day and things seem to go not the way we planned and expected, let us not fuss about it too much: it’s just a day, in the great scheme of things. I have learned to take even the bad days (and the very bad days!) with the *this could be as good as it gets* kind of attitude (or, nothing is going to be any better than this kinda-bad I’m experiencing now). It taught me to put things into perspective and to simply enjoy what I have and learn contentment in the small things. Not easy when you carry at least 40 years of conditioning and Catholic guilt which run in your veins. But that led me to better my Self. So, also my situation changed.
It can be done.
Sending good vibes, as per usual ♡.