Surviving When the Firing Ax Falls

in Pain

The Philadelphia Inquirer is probably like a lot of newspapers in the world - understaffed, losing money, trying to stay afloat.

And as it does, it features a series of articles about Being Fired. Well, that's not what THEY call it; their title is Jobs At A Loss - Upheaval in the Region's Job Market but believe me, those PEOPLE who are listed as statistics know what it is: they've been fired.

The Headline is:

The ax falls, and then what?

The article by Inquirer Staff Writer Alfred Lubrano is filled with statistics and anecdotes. And it's filled with one more thing: pain.

Human pain.

Human suffering when 13.2 million people in the USA are unemployed (that only counts those still looking for work - those who have given up don't count, it seems) and 210,000 in our immediate 8-county area.

"But while the Philadelphia region is papered with pink slips, a layout can still hit with the potent surprise of an unforeseen meteor."

It has been known for a long time by psychologists that being fired is as difficult on the individual as a death in the family, divorce, or other traumatic, stress-producing situation.

And what goes deeper is what happens to the individual, and it's repercussions are long-lasting.

"Shame, fear, and panic can barge into a person's head after the initial trauma."

People have pointed out that in this Great Recession people who thought they were recession-proof are now on the unemployment lines - in Philadelphia, as an example, a major law firm collapsed and closed. (And when I was selling investment real estate in the 80s and 90s, this was THE real estate law firm.)

Where Did The Dream Go?

I've often written about and created a video about The Dream - Where Did The Dream Go? It's gone for many people.

We were told to grow up, do well in school, select a major carefully, specialize, earn a good living, get married, raise 2.5 kids, help them grow well, get married, and the circle continues.

We did that, but things have come crashing down for many people.

Savings, Never Done Well By Most Americans, Evaporate

401(K) accounts are half what they were only 8 months ago. A friend say he now has a 201(K) and my good friend Neil Radisch (with whom I wrote "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" as a major musical) wrote me on Facebook that he now has a 4.01(K).

I know the pain there, with my own IRA dropping 50%.

The Dream may still linger, but the funds to make it happen are gone. (For now, at least.)

Personal Memories Never Die

The reason I started this website (and the business to support it) was because of the terrible crushing pain that many people feel when they are fired. I want to help.

Having faced it twice myself, I know the lasting, deep-seeded pain that lingers.

I still have images of my younger daughter, while she was in middle school, crying with covers pulled up over her head when I arrived home having been fired and saying, "They stole your dream, Daddy."

That's the last time I worked for someone else.

Oh, sure... being a Work at Home Dad has it's tough parts too, but never again will my family suffer like that.

Shame, Pain, And The Lasting Upset Of Being Fired

This part of The Inquirer's article really got to me... a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I read it because I've been there and understand the pain of both the child and the parent.

"One recent day, he [Dan Perry, the subject of much of the article] stalked the rooms of his modest house decorated with family photos, no kids or wife about. 'It's eerie, weird,' he said. 'I'm used to hubbub. It's just a house, not a home, when I'm here alone in the day.'"

That will change... at least it has for me. In fact, I thrive being here by myself for most of the day.

"One evening not long ago, Perry say his daughter, Rebekah, 16, typing up the lesson plans of her advanced-placement history teacher.

"'What's this?' he asked.

"'I'm typing her notes for $80,' Rebekah said.

"That was the price of a class trip to Washington. Rebekah knew her father had lost his job and was loath to ask for money. So she asked her teacher for some work.

"Later that night, Perry lay awake in bed at 4 AM, the small and desperate hour when, many unemployed people report, they are alert and anguished. He contemplated Rebekah and the $80.

"'My heart was heavy with sadness for how my daughter was regarding this,' Perry said. Children's reactions are often profound."

And believe me, they never forget the pain of seeing their hero, their leader, their rock and support suffering.

"Perry cannot not worry. 'At night, I go to this secret place in my soul, and it's like I'm standing in front of a mirror alone. I have no one to hold to account but myself. And I look at myself and ask, 'What am I going to do?' There's a mortgage and cars and other things to be paid, and no one's hiring. How am I going to help my family?'"

Men Often See Themselves AS Their Jobs

Men and women look at this situation very differently, with us men basing much of our self-image on our jobs.

I remember in the very early 1990s having had a nightmare that woke me up in a cold sweat. I dreamed that I would no longer be a Vice President of Jackson-Cross Company (then a huge commercial real estate brokerage firm in Philadelphia, where I sold $247,368,657.97 of Investment Real Estate and marketed more than $1 billion for others in the first as the company's VP of Marketing and Planning). I'd been there for 13 years, done very well, was respected throughout the industry as a top salesman, but my mind was already playing games with me as the economy was rocked at that time, though not as much as now.

I wasn't fired, I went to work for myself. And I had been doing most of the work from home already (since 1983 when Liz was born). But the self-image was rocked and my whole body knew it.

The Only Way To Get Through This Is Together

Those who survive times like this find help in others. Others who have been through it. Others who can steer them in the right direction for new job skills. Others who are supportive, upbeat, have the energy for two people... since the fired person has lost much of the energy needed to prosper.

Mastermind groups. Small business support groups. And yes, even a group like the one found here on where we support Dads now working at home (or looking to work from home).

We're here. We hope you'll let us know how we can help.

And though we can't erase the burned-in images and the pain caused by your being fired, we're here to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible and make the transition to working from home a smooth one.

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Charles Seymour Jr has 1 articles online

Charles Seymour Jr is a creative entrepreneur, marketing-success coach, and social media expert working with individuals and businesses looking to explode their success through online and direct-response marketing. He lives outside of Philadelphia in Wallingford, PA USA with his wife, Pam, two cats, a dog, 7 computers, and 8 cameras!

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Surviving When the Firing Ax Falls

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This article was published on 2010/04/03