K-Hubs was laid off for seven whole months last year. I’m just now writing about this because it has taken me that long to percolate my feelings on the subject. You’ll be shocked to learn, I had a lot of feels about it.
During that time, though, I WAS THE MOST EVEN-KEELED WIFE EVER!
Except exactly the opposite.
I was all, “Yay for new beginnings! Yay for self-discovery! This is exactly what I meant when I took my vows for better or for worse. This is so what I envisioned when I said I wanted an adventure! I love this! It’s going to turn out great.”
That lasted for 12 minutes, at which point I then said, “BECAUSE OH MY GOD AND I JUST CAN’T EVEN, DO YOU HAVE A FREAKING JOB YET?”
A writer by trade, I was the amazing wife who helped craft resumes and cover letters, delicately leaning over K-Hubs’ shoulder while he applied for those first few jobs. It was just like you see in stock photos. So incredibly beautiful. That is, if you think it’s beautiful when the wife leans over the husband’s shoulder saying, “YOU MISSED A FREAKING COMMA! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? HOW CAN YOU GET A JOB IF YOU’RE MISSING A COMMA? WE’RE GOING TO LOSE THE HOUSE BECAUSE OF THE COMMA. PEOPLE CAN’T HIRE PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW COMMAS.”
As Mom would say, “Bless your ever-lovin’ heart.” Yes, bless my ever-lovin’, high-strung heart. I knew the layoff was a good thing. But at the same time, it was downright frightening. A layoff means CHANGE. And change is not SAME. Same is predictable, safe. Even if same isn’t the healthiest option, there is an odd comfort that comes with knowing what to expect. It’s like Hot Pockets. Are they the healthiest choice for dinner? Probably not. (However, may I just insert an “omigod, yum!” in here?) We know how to make them, and the results are quick. There isn’t much to worry about in the process of nuking a Hot Pocket and its delicious goodness for dinner. Maybe I should eat broccoli. But I know what I’m getting with my Hot Pocket. Because I know I like Hot Pockets. What if the broccoli is past its prime? Wilted broccoli is not cool.
With shout-outs to dads who always know when to call, my dad wisely said to us last year, “It will all work out in the end. It’s the unknown that dogs us.” So. True. The unknown dogged me, kept me up at night, shortened my fuse, and heightened my temper. The same happened to K-Hubs. There were days we worked side by side, heads down, getting it done because that was all we knew how to do. There were days where the vows to stay together, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, were all we recognized. Our marriage and family life as we had known them were over. Our future was uncertain. But, we slogged through. K-Hubs applied for an average of 25 jobs per week, opportunities that spanned both coasts, and studied for certification exams to strengthen his resume. He worked his butt off. I took on extra writing projects and navigated Toodle’s new dietary restrictions. By the way, always plan to do allergy testing on your child while your spouse is laid off…that is if you are a glutton for punishment and sheer insanity does not bother you.
Over the seven months he was laid off, something incredible began to happen to us individually and then together. We grew. K-Hubs, ever the introvert, started, and I kid you not, going door-to-door at businesses where he could drop off his resume, a quick note, and some candy to brighten the day of whoever acted as gatekeeper. Omigosh. Seriously, omigosh. I was SO PROUD OF HIM I NEARLY DIED. He really was the smartest bear in the west. The brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. The sharpest tool in the shed. And I, ever the extroverted control freak, learned the hard way, I could not control this. It wasn’t my job to get. Even if we traded places and he stayed home, I knew K-Hubs needed to learn to put himself out there. And I needed to learn to let go.
Eventually, we worked side by side to learn these valuable lessons. And all of a sudden, the fear, although still there, changed. We began to attack the fear together, drawing on our newfound skills to find an outcome. We changed the fear into an actionable energy. We built trust. K-Hubs worked with a recruiter who ultimately found him the job he would take. The job wasn’t originally what K-Hubs had set out to get. But one night, I found myself worrying again about money and which would happen first: we go broke or K-Hubs finds a job. I pulled out my devotional book and went to the section on money. A light went on. I went to K-Hubs and said, “I think we need to look harder at this job you interviewed for. You like it. They’ll train you, and you’ll have another colleague starting with you. A comrade of sorts. I think this is God saying, ‘Buy a lottery ticket.’ This isn’t the job you set out to get because you didn’t know it existed. It isn’t what you envisioned. It’s better.” K-Hubs’ face changed and that was the end of that. He found a job that happened to be right in the heart of the city where we already lived.
I would love to say I no longer fear the unknown. But that would be lying. I still fear the unknown. Perhaps now I at least know what K-Hubs and I are made of. And if it’s true that that which does not kill you makes you stronger, I say, agreed, as long as you let it.