Self Saboteur needs help DESPERATELY!!!
August 28, 2009 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Was fired from my job yesterday after being on 90 day performance plan for on-call duties(missed pages-3 strike rule). Had job since February. Lost previous job to layoff. Don't know why I had such a hard time with this one task at my job. Got great review otherwise just last week. Been doing psychotherapy to help get over the death of my father in 06/08, twice a week. Questions for mefites...

- How do I tell my 4 year old?
- How do I tell my friends and family?
- How do I explain this on a resume?
- How do I keep my marriage together (we've been in counseling since July)
- How do I stop self sabotaging my life and career and get out of my way!?
- How do I survive with large bills and no money after next month (wife has somewhat inconsistent paydays as a writer...but, has landed a large contract recently).
- How do I get back to the salary level I just was at?
- How do I NOT hurt myself?

Any questions? Need clarification? I'll answer. I'm 42, and in IT with somewhat limited IT skill set.

I'm despondent then I'm numb, then back again. My wife is stressed. I'm stressed. How do I make this easier?

Thanks for reading and responding. I'm an idiot, I apologize.
posted by littleredwagon to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What were you doing when you missed the pages?
posted by gjc at 5:25 PM on August 28, 2009

Response by poster: Sleeping or mistakenly away from it or it was on vibrate when i was out and about. I had the duty at my last job, but it was so few and far between. No excuse though. BIG thing with my boss...
posted by littleredwagon at 5:27 PM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: been there. done that.

--you don't need to tell your 4 year old.

--tell them that you got laid off ... again.

--don't. you're going to need to leave that job off.

--be truthful. hopefully yr wife will be supportive.

--get another job--but something different then what you just did. explore your options here, but don't go right back to the same kind of job.

--some people are going to have to wait to get paid. tell them now.

--good question. it's much more important to get back working at a job you like.

--look: lots of people get fired, and often it's for crappy reasons. the office i work in fires people for violating a dress code. for whatever reason, this company chose to get rid of you. if you got a great review and someone sacked you aweek or so later it usually indicates that something more was going on.

but it doesn't concern you anymore. this isn't a crisis--it's also an opportunity. don't find another ob--find a career.
posted by lester at 5:32 PM on August 28, 2009 [9 favorites]

Best answer: There was a time about seven years ago when I found myself in a similar situation. Lost job, crumbling marriage and separation, no money, forced to move. I detailed my story here before, so I won't repeat details, but it does get better. Accept that what is, is. But that it can be changed. Be patient. Trust yourself. Don't give up. Keep looking forward, not back. Don't let pride get in the way and prevent you asking for help.
posted by netbros at 5:42 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all who've responded...I needed this...thank you!
posted by littleredwagon at 5:51 PM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: The most important thing partners have told me in the past when bad news of this magnitude happened was "We'll get through this." and my suggestion would be that would be a good message to start with when talking to your wife. Have at least a part of a plan mapped out share it with her, ask for her input, create a plan for the two of you.

Think about why you think you're having these problems. Think about whether the psychotherapy you've been in is

- helping you with the death of your father
- could be helpful with other avenues in your life, or if possibly you need another approach to help you with those

I'm not saying you're depressed, or have ADD or PTSD or what have you, but there are things that can go wrong in your head that are very difficult to manage and control without help, so consider that if you feel that you're really hitting a wall in terms of your own capacities and those of your family. Try to hold close the things that are going well for you -- your family is together, whatever else you hold dear that is still functioning -- and use it as a base to move forward.

Start making plans for dealing with finances, your own self esteem issues, finding a job. Make finding a job and managing your money your new job as you look for a job, get up and go to work and work on that. Same with your marriage. Same with your family. Many of us have also been in terrible places, as netbros has said, and time makes the wounds less raw the the successes much sweeter. Good luck and I'm sorry this happened to you.
posted by jessamyn at 6:05 PM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: - How do I tell my 4 year old?

One of the absolute best things about four-year-olds is that -- to them -- you are Dad and you are awesome. Just tell them the truth -- you got fired from your job for making a big mistake -- and that this means.... more time for PIGGYBACK RIDES!
posted by Rock Steady at 6:33 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: seconding pretty much everything lester said...and lots of good answers in general.

i'd also like to add: you're not an idiot, don't be so hard on yourself. missing pages is not - considering reasons why many get fired - not all that terrible and not a huge reflection on you, your abilities or you character. during periods of serious depression, answering my phone is often the hardest thing to do. That said, you do have to pull yourself up a little bit.

I know better than most how freaking ridiculously hard it is to get your shit together when you are struggling with depression issues. IANYT, but my advice (and i'm not good at taking this advice, so, i realize its hard) is not to get bogged down in all of the problems. shit happens to everybody - but if you start dwelling on that, its sort of a slippery slope (i've got the whole 'raised a fundamental christian but am not anymore at all' guilt, yeah, like I said, easier said...).

Again, IANYT, but you and your wife just have to know you're in all of this together. Money is a really common reason previously happy married couples get divorced - and that's a really bad reason to lose someone you love. Money is stressful, but don't make it the center point of your marriage. Use your marriage to de-stress your selves, not to heighten it.

Ok - all of that is totally essential. But you're also going to have to kick yourself in the butt a little. Its so cheesy, but its true - as far as we experience this existence - that the past cannot be changed, but ostensibly the future can. So yes - look at this as an opportunity. Find something you actually want to do, and a lot of these issues will resolve themselves.

Happiness isn't found it's made (said as I lay out my SSRI's et al for tomorrow morning...).
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:10 PM on August 28, 2009

I think you need to cut yourself some major slack in the guilt department because you are dealing with your father's death. It is never easy, and grief takes it out of you, and takes as long as it takes.

(About a year after my mom died, I ran right through a stop sign and T-boned another car, totaling mine. No one was hurt and I got a ticket for careless driving. A couple of weeks later I was talking to my aunt, whose own father had died a year before my mom, and she made a comment that it's quite common for people to do something stupid within a year of losing a loved one. Apparently she did something similar.)
posted by zinfandel at 8:13 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't know if this will make you feel better, but I worked in on-call operations for a few years, and missing pages was a serial problem with nearly everyone we hired. We had to implement an automatic escalation structure if acknowledgements were missed that went right up to management if necessary. And it was more often than anyone was happy with. People were fired over this -- good people.

I think some people aren't cut out for pager duty, especially when the damn thing goes off constantly and in the middle of the night. It's hugely stressful and requires you structure your life around being available (meaning near a computer, not just having the pager on) and not everyone is up to the task. Perhaps falling asleep with it on vibrate was a subconscious act of sabotage because at some level you were getting fed up with it? I don't know.

But I do think you should look for employment that does not involve carrying a pager after office hours, you will be much happier. I am! This is sort of a bad time to be looking for a job, but by no means impossibly bad, so try to think of it as a chance to do something less sucky.
posted by cj_ at 8:17 PM on August 28, 2009

(Also wanted to mention that people who were notoriously good at pager response ended up in rotation more often, conspicuously so. This, of course, breeds resentment. All around, a bad business and I miss it not one bit.)
posted by cj_ at 8:21 PM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: I was startled, then not so surprised, to discover that there are actual therapists who specialize in career counseling. Imagine someone helping you figure out how to be not miserable at a job! I've not done it personally, but I know at least one person who's gotten a new lease on life from such counseling.

Do a search for "career counseling" and your city and see if something promising comes up. I only have particulars from one such counselor, but it sounds like 4-5 sessions is a ballpark usual term. Maybe you could substitute this type of counseling for the therapy you're already going to.

I know money must be an issue here, but if (and this is a big if) you and your wife felt it would be helpful, then maybe it would be a good investment.

A note: unless you have a diagnosed disorder, 'career counseling' may not be covered by insurance. Getting diagnosed with a disorder might have negative repercussions, though.
posted by amtho at 8:28 PM on August 28, 2009

Find a different mental health care provider. Seriously. Twice weekly therapy over a prolonged period of time is indicative of either substantial impairment or bad therapy.

If the impairment is significant enough to need that kind of intensive therapy, you might want to consider whether it's time to make getting healthy your number one priority and find out whether your depression qualifies as a disability.

The questions you've asked are important, but they're trivial in comparison to regaining your mental health - in fact they're probably dependent on you regaining your mental health. That's what you need to make plans for right now. Its time to see a psychiatrist and find out whether psychotherapy is even a suitable option for where you are now or whether meds combined with some other form of psychological support would bring you better results. I don't know whether you'd benefit most from interpersonal therapy, grief counselling, life transition counselling, or some other form of psychological support, but a skilled mental health professional who has all the options available to them will be able to determine what combination of interventions is likely to be most successful for you.

You really can't fix anything else in your life until you fix you. Make that your first priority and invest time in finding the very best professionals to help you, just as you would if you needed surgical help. What you've been doing isn't working for you, it's time to find something which does.

Above all, good luck with finding what works for you.
posted by Lolie at 8:34 PM on August 28, 2009 [4 favorites]

Best answer: What strikes me about your question is how many different questions you're asking. Your wife, your child, your job, your bills, your father, your income... You've piled every problem you have together and you're looking with horror at the pile.

You do not have to solve all of your problems at once. Take a piece of paper. Write them all out. Everything - from healing your marriage to taking out the trash. Fold the piece of paper and put it in a drawer. If you do nothing today to solve any of these problems, your life will not suddenly fall apart. Try to feel that. Everything will simply go on, mostly as it is. It takes a lot of time, a lot of bad luck, and a lot of despair before things really go to pieces. So right now there is absolutely no rush. You have time. You have some space to breathe.

Now, look at the list. Pick one thing you feel you can handle. If that one thing is taking out the trash, that's ok. Don't pick the most important thing, or the most urgent thing. Pick the easiest. Do that, and cross it off the list. If you want to be done for the day, you can be done. If you feel like you want to keep going, pick something else. And do something nice for yourself - something that relaxes you. Maybe that's laying out on the grass somewhere sunny, or going for a run. Whatever it is.

Now, I don't know you. But you don't get to be a married man with a child and a job - even a job you lose - without doing a lot of things right. That means you are a capable, successful person. Your recent patch of misfortune may make it seem like you are unlucky or very flawed, but that's not so. If you just take one step at a time, you will find yourself slowly making progress. You're not alone.

One final word. When considering your problems, remember the parable of the many arrows. A father draws his three sons together and gives each an arrow. He tells them to break the arrows. Each easily breaks his arrow. Then he gives them a full quiver of arrows and tells them to break it. None of them can break the many arrows when they are together. The moral of that story is that brothers (and friends) should stand together, otherwise they will be easier to defeat. The lesson that you should take is that when you bind all your troubles together in one stack, you're going to find them impossible. But when you tackle one problem at a time, you will be able to solve that problem. Going one by one, you will prevail. Just give yourself time and understanding.

Ok, one final final word. It's ok to make mistakes, even serious ones, and screw things up. In fact, it's good. People who never get themselves into serious trouble are, in my experience, pretty heartless. Forgive yourself as, one day, you will forgive your wife when she makes a mistake, and your friends when they err. Someday your child will come to you and admit some mistake, and you will find within yourself the wisdom, sympathy, and understanding that your child needs.
posted by prefpara at 8:35 PM on August 28, 2009 [21 favorites]

I think you need to separate secondary things from the primary thing. The primary thing is that you need a job because you need to pay for the necessities. You're not the only person in the world who ever ran into this. Friends and family should/will understand that this can happen. I've never been on pager duty but it sounds like most people would not handle this position perfectly. It doesn't sound to me like being a self-saboteur - you're being dramatic here, being a self-saboteur would be walking up to a boss, pouring a 2 liter soda over his head and telling him to take the job and shove it. What you did is a simple mistake just like billions of people do every day. HTH!
posted by rainy at 10:23 PM on August 28, 2009

Oh, and about the resume, read this askmefi.
posted by rainy at 10:27 PM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: Make sure you do virtually all the chores around the house so your wife can focus on her writing and feels you're being helpful, and aside from job-hunting put the rest of your time into addressing the "in IT with somewhat limited IT skill set" bit.

The great thing about IT-related stuff is that there's a vast wealth of material online and it's a relatively meritocratic industry, so get learning. Pick some in-demand skills that are on the fringes of your current knowledge, and try to find some real projects to apply them to if possible. Hopefully you'll find a job quite soon, but don't just wait around chucking applications at every job going.
posted by malevolent at 12:59 AM on August 29, 2009

Best answer: interesting. 4 year olds are more resilient than u might think with some stuff, just tell them.
gloss it over on your resume, that shouldnt be hard. those who are extremely successful just have a way of presenting their stumbles in a positive light, rather than presenting them as stumbles.
some of the other questions are quite difficult to answer. all i can advise is, keep your integrity. try and be honest, and try and focus on positive of where you want to head, rather than what has happened.
posted by edtut at 3:56 AM on August 29, 2009

Response by poster: You folks are TRULY amazing. Thank you!
posted by littleredwagon at 5:44 AM on August 29, 2009

You're definitely not an idiot - there are lots of folks who've been through similar Everything Bad Happens At Once - it's awful, and we feel for you. I know it's so hard to stay positive - I've been in that deep dark depression thanks to job situation myself - but do the best you can. Everyone's giving you good advice - I'll just share the thing I've used to get me past the low points. I keep focused on "someday I will look back on this" - and just knowing that if I can make it through yet another week I'm that much closer to having the pain be in the past. And with a 4 year old - well, if the child's like I was then he/she thinks you hang the moon in the sky - no matter what you do, you're wonderful. Make sure you spend a little time each day to hug or read a story or whatever the kid likes best - and tell yourself that you'll look back on that bad time with him/her someday, in a matter of months.

Since you've already seen a marriage counselor - use that therapist to get recommendations for career counseling. Think of it as a networking contact and get any referrals you can.

I'm your age and know that someday I'll be in your place, it will be my father that's gone. I can only imagine how awful that's going to be.
Hang in there.
You'll get through all this.
posted by batgrlHG at 6:47 PM on August 29, 2009

(By networking I mean use your therapist to recommend other counselors. Like a doctor's referral.)
posted by batgrlHG at 6:53 PM on August 29, 2009

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