How do I pick myself up during the worst year of my life?
October 27, 2016 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I have lost everything this past year. How do I move forward?

I previously made a post detailing my ex-boyfriend's cruel break-up with me here, if you'd like to check that out for context.

Roughly a month after the above post, I was fired from my new job two days after the company (it was a really small company) stated that profits were down for this year. With that being said, the work environment turned out to be unexpectedly toxic - I was "spoken to" about several "offenses" that others weren't (for example, I was pulled into HR for my "messy desk"--as in, I had reports from work on my desk, like others---, for not notifying my supervisor of where I was (in the building) at all times, and more, etc.

So, I've been on the job hunt again for the past few months. I have plans to attend grad school next fall, but obviously, it's a long time until then.

I am besides myself with shame, embarrassment, and disgust (at myself). I'm officially a fuck-up. I can hear my ex laughing in the distance, congratulating himself for leaving me. I cannot move forward without 25 steps back.

I'm trying my best to institute self-care (I am taking medicine, and seeing a therapist weekly, volunteering), but my self-esteem is in the gutter now. I don't understand why this has happened to me, and I feel that it must be because I am some kind of bad person, and I deserve it. Meanwhile, my ex rode off into the sunset on a white horse, whereas I feel like I am getting his karma, or something. The pain of that experience has, for some reason, become magnified after the job loss.

At the time we broke up, my new job was slightly comforting to me, as I had somewhere to focus my energies. At this point, the best part of the day is the evening, because then I can sleep. The job search is slow, perhaps due to the time of the year, which is not helping. I don't know what to do, guys.
posted by ladykitty5 to Human Relations (35 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Are there other things you can add to your day, along with your job search? Some volunteer work or a hobby/craft/project that can take up some time and energy? I find that the worst times for me, mood-wise, are when I'm bored or just plain not-busy, so taking up time with other things definitely can help.
posted by xingcat at 12:02 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

YOU are not a fuck-up. You have just had SUPER-shit luck.

Remember that and keep it in mind. Embroider it on a pillow, write it in lipstick on your mirror, tattoo it on the inside of your thigh, whatever. But - memorize that fact.

And your believing that will be the first step towards bouncing back. And if you don't believe that right now you can borrow my own belief - becuase I definitely believe this is a case of you going through shit luck rather than you being a fuck-up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:11 PM on October 27, 2016 [13 favorites]

I just wanted to offer you some solidarity. I live 1,800 miles away from my family because my wife wanted to be near hers. Last January, after 17 1/2 years of marriage and five kids, she told me she didn't love me "like a husband" anymore and was moving out.

Since that time, life has felt like a really long, bad nightmare. Like I am living someone else's life. Like you, I mostly just want to sleep. I dread the thought of going home from work for another evening alone, and I dread the thought of having to wake up in the morning and go to work. It is a vicious cycle.

Having said that... I am ten months into this whole lie change thing and I am confident things will get better. I take joy in the days I get to be with my kids, and I try to use my "alone time" as a chance to veg out.

It is hard. Really, really hard. But time heals all wounds. It will get better. I am confident of this, for both of us.
posted by tacodave at 12:12 PM on October 27, 2016 [34 favorites]

I'm officially a fuck-up.

This is absolutely not true! You were let go from a crummy job when their profits were down which wasn't your fault and, even if it were (which it isn't!), so what? That wouldn't make you an official fuck-up. Things happen, jobs come and go, it sucks but it is absolutely not a reflection on you as a human being.

I would guess, based on your previous question about being in a city where you don't know anyone which is compounded by being single and not having a job, that you are feeling lonely and isolated. Maybe try finding a meetup group or do some volunteering or something? Find something that gets you in contact with other people and lets you feel like a success, like maybe taking a cooking class or something if you can afford it.

It might also be worth checking in with a therapist? I don't know anything about you or your mental health or whatever but you mention "the time of year" in the context of your job search being slow and it stood out to me because this time of year is always difficult for me (I have to adjust my medication). You also describe being beside yourself with "shame, embarrassment, and disgust" which just sounds awful (trust me I have been there, I know it sucks) and might be worth talking about with someone. Please feel free to disregard this if it doesn't feel like it applies but I thought I'd mention it.

Very very best wishes to you! You are not a fuckup and things really will get better.

I sent you a MeFi mail as well because I wasn't planning to post; please feel free to disregard it (:
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:13 PM on October 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

1. You definitely aren't a fuck up, or if you are, so is everyone else in the world. Getting laid off and going through a difficult breakup is a super shitty thing, but it does NOT make you a fuck up. Don't define yourself like that because it isn't true and it isn't helpful.

2. Lots of place are looking for seasonal workers, so you have a moderately good chance of finding SOMETHING, at least for now, so that you are bringing in some money and feeling less aimless. Retail isn't best case, but it is something. At some point, something is better than nothing.

3. When life kicks you in the junk, use the opportunity to redefine yourself. I know that is really easy to say, but seriously... be a new you. Pick a persona and be it. Be a you who now wears red lipstick every day. Be a you who never curses. Be a you who swears all the time. Be a you who is super into crochet. Be a you who volunteers at a local nursing home and who makes the days for the individuals there a billion times bright, just because you're there. Be a you who joins boardgame playing clubs or book clubs. Be a you who journals. Be whatever you you want to be. Seriously. This is an opportunity to redefine yourself. Craft a new you. When I went through a major transition I decided I was now going to be a me who wears red lipstick every day. Such a minor and silly thing, but honestly it has been such an oddly satisfying and confidence boosting thing. YMMV but find SOMETHING. It may feel inauthentic and forced at first but before long your new you traits will be YOU.

Also (and bear with me).... get a dry erase marker and write nice things to yourself on your bathroom mirror every evening, so the first thing you see in the morning is something nice about you. Plus, it forces you to stop only seeing yourself in a negative light. You have to think of something nice or supportive or encouraging to tell yourself, so you start having to think of yourself more positively. I highly HIGHLY recommend this, as cheesy and stupid as it sounds.

anyway, you're awesome and definitely not a fuck up. Life is kicking you in the junk right now, but during hard times I like to think of life as being a bit of a good/bad pendulum. When things are really bad it just means that the pendulum is getting ready to swing really hard back into good things territory.

ps - can you afford to adopt a kitty? Because that is like instant happiness right there, and caring for another living thing can be very therapeutic.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:16 PM on October 27, 2016 [20 favorites]

I was trying to find a story I'd written in here before, and I found not only my story, but the entire thread, which I think may be helpful to you.

Of course, I want to point you in particular to the things I wrote in there, but there are many wonderful comments.

Try making a list of things you need to do every day:

--- Drink water
--- Take a walk outside in the fresh air
--- Write down one thing you are grateful for (I know this can be hard, but it doesn't matter how little it is, just find one thing)
--- Eat well
--- Write a postcard to a friend

Things like that. Then check off every thing you've done. If you haven't done it, put it on the list for the next day. Pat yourself on the back for every thing you do that's on the list, and realize that Rome wasn't built in a day so some things do get pushed. If something gets pushed more than three times, look at it again and see whether it's something you should do and are avoiding or if it's something that's not important and should be dropped from the list.

Then when you get used to making lists, make a list each day of these things (each gets its own list):

What you are thankful for.
What you are releasing from your life to go its own way.
What you need to do that day.
What you are asking for from the universe.

Remember to praise yourself for everything that you do that is positive. No matter how little. Find affirmations that work for you and keep saying them to yourself. It's hard to drown out the devil on your shoulder, but remember it's only thoughts and just because you think them doesn't make them true, so override the negative thoughts with consciously positive ones.
posted by janey47 at 12:19 PM on October 27, 2016 [11 favorites]

I am so sorry for your hard time.

I'd suggest starting with thinking about what your life will be like in two years - going through grad school, possibly having met a partner there. Now imagine your free time. What is it that you'll wish you had time for? Find whatever is not-expensive in that and see if you can do a little of that today.

As an example, when I was laid off I had been wanting to learn to make pretzels from scratch, so I did. (The ingredients are cheap.) I also had always been wanting to exercise more so I rode my bike around and did free classes and yoga videos from YouTube. I also explored some local parks (it was summer at least) and I found some really neat little spots right in my neighbourhood that I had no idea existed. I also drew a bit, and decluttered my house.

It might help you to position this as free time that you won't have in the future, because you will be busy. (And you will be! This is just a blip.)

I'd give it just an hour a day (mine was 11-12) but really try for that one hour to do something you enjoy.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:21 PM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm not exactly sure how to make you feel better because this sounds like more about the tough break-up than the job. But a couple things about the job stuff...

Clarification, were you laid off due to downsizing or fired for incompetence? You mention being cited for (stupid) problems, but that you're dismissal was due to low profits. If you got laid off from a job that was miserable, then congratulations because that is the miserable job lottery -- you are entitled to collect unemployment (which if you are not, please take care of immediately) and you get to be out of a toxic work environment. I was laid off from a job I hated that filled me with dread, and it was great. I collected unemployment for a while and eventually found a much better job. You will too. Often times, losing your job forces you to advance up to career chain. In the meantime, try not to just waste away and feel sorry for yourself. Use your extra newfound free time to work out (which will make you feel better/happier) and indulge in some creative hobbies.

Second, being on the job hunt and just sending out resumes blindly to companies and never hearing back is both demoralizing and also totally ineffective. I've said it here on AskMeFi before and I will say it again: I don't know anyone who has gotten a job by blindly sending a resume to an online job listing. It's about being referred or hearing about a job from someone. If you are just blindly sending resumes out, please do start networking instead. Schedule coffee with people, shoot others emails and let them know you are looking, etc. That's the best way to get a job. If you have been networking, don't be afraid to cast a wider net. Touch base with former colleagues, acquaintances, etc. and let them know you're looking. There's no shame in looking for a job -- everyone does it. I got laid off from my last job too when the organization folded, and I sent around a bunch of emails letting people know I was looking -- one of those emails resulted in my dream job, which I have now. I otherwise wouldn't have gotten it.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:24 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Screw him, screw your old job. You definitely need to stay busy. Hobbies, volunteering, temp work, something. Getting into those will get you at least a new set of acquaintances and possibly some new job prospects and even new friends.
posted by PJMoore at 12:26 PM on October 27, 2016

From your previous entry, your ex sounds like a jerk. I'll bet his parents really liked you and never thought their son would find someone like you BECAUSE IN THEIR INNERMOST HEARTS THEY KNOW HE IS A JERK. You so dodged a bullet by not marrying this asshole or becoming permanently entangled with him by having children with him. He sounds like a master manipulator.

I'm so sorry about the job, but that was clearly not your fault either. Good for you for recognizing that the environment was toxic.

This is definitely something to discuss with your therapist, who can tell you, "No, you are NOT a fuck-up!" (If he/she fails to do that, you need to find another therapist).

Are you still volunteering at the animal shelter? Are you still in contact with your acquaintances? Keep doing those things, or start them back up again. At the very least, animals love you unconditionally and would definitely give you something to look forward to and a commitment to keep during the day when you can't imagine doing anything else except sleeping.
posted by tully_monster at 12:29 PM on October 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

I was fired because (direct quote), "We have worked so hard with you to try and find a place for your skills at this company." I did not have any work performance citations, so I was just noting that it was two days after our CEO reported some profit loss at the annual meeting. I gather they did not really like me/decided I wasn't a fit.

With that being said, it's about the job loss. I was just noting that at the time of the breakup, the job was the only thing giving me the confidence to get through it (because, barring the toxic work environment, it was a really good job!). Now, I don't have that, so all of the disappointments from the year are flooding back.
posted by ladykitty5 at 12:29 PM on October 27, 2016

Two big events like those, in a row, would be hard for anyone. I know some pretty smart and articulate people that have been fired, some multiple times. It's not a reflection of their worth or achievement but of a bad fit. Don't beat yourself up because of this, seriously, it doesn't really make sense. Even if you totally fucked up its not something to get too down about. Now you are free to define your new life, what a great thing! And you know what, if you don't like your next job it's okay to move on from that one, too! Imagine your perfect job and partner down to the smallest detail, write it all down, take great care of yourself. Give yourself permission to take break, nap and read, enjoy your freedom and know you will be okay.
posted by waving at 12:32 PM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

"I don't understand why this has happened to me"

Don't extrapolate. It happened because you dated a douche, and you worked for a company that wasn't making enough money. Neither of those things had anything to do with you. They're coincidental. You don't seem to be the problem, so don't blame yourself.

In terms of going forward... it actually sounds like you're doing a pretty good job. My two suggestions would be to see a therapist and volunteer, and you're already doing that. So congratulations. Just keep in mind that neither of those are magic, and they won't work right away. You have to stick with it, and it gets better over time. Pretty soon, you'll be dating again, and you'll have job interviews lined up. Just stick with it.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:35 PM on October 27, 2016 [6 favorites]

I would at least try to find out if you are entitled to unemployment benefits. The eligibility varies from state to state and some are more generous than others. Going to your state's unemployment office website should include an explanation of criteria, or a phone number if you want to ask someone. But everything else I said stands!
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:35 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

"We have worked so hard with you to try and find a place for your skills at this company."
It also sounds like the pattern here is not that you fucked up twice, but that in both cases other people screwed you over, then blamed you for their own incompetence/deficiencies. I don't know if it's possible to figure out in advance whether that's going to happen or how to avoid it (if someone else has any ideas, let me know!), but it's something to keep reminding yourself: I am not responsible for other people's fuckups, even when they insist I am.
posted by tully_monster at 12:39 PM on October 27, 2016 [9 favorites]

"Education is expensive."

If you can make a good list of everything you learned from both of these experiences, then maybe you would feel better. And visualize how that education will apply in your next job/new relationship. "I was codependent when I did xxxx, so next time I will focus more on doing yyy." "Feedback from my previous job suggested that I need to improve in area yyy, so I will spend time now looking for and applying strategies to work on that."

For me, that's the way I move forward. And if you can spend your time now on developing the habit of learning from bad experiences, that skill will serve you very well all your life.
posted by raisingsand at 12:50 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

You are REALLY not a fuckup. This shit happens to everyone, and that's just life. It's really important that you not take this personally and think it has something to do with you or your failure. Even if you did play a role in whatever happened, its not your fault to have your life come crumbling down. Unfair shit happens to every person on this earth and its just a fact of life. You will come back from this and get on your feet again, and it might not be as hard as you think.

You say the pain of that experience has become magnified after the job loss. I can totally understand that-- since you don't have anything to distract you, your mind is free to wander into self destructive self loathing territory. Don't trust the mean thoughts your mind is throwing at you right now! Why should someone who has suffered through 2 big losses recently have to be chastised and shamed by critical voice? Let yourself be sad, let yourself heal. Shit happens and shit hurts some times. maybe you can use this vulnerability to connect to people you don't know yet. People out there want to help. Find them. Look on facebook to find local groups of people that might need new friends. When I've been in a rough spot, I've found my faith in humanity by seeking out generous and compassionate people. It can change your life for the better.
posted by winterportage at 1:09 PM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

You weren't a good fit for that company. Personally, much like with your ex, I think you dodged a bullet there. Not being a good fit doesn't make you a fuck up, it means you didn't fit in with a toxic over managed stress inducing pain in the ass work environment. Staying in such a toxic place would have been so much the worse thing you could have done as it would have eaten away at your confidence bit by soul destroying bit. You got screwed over in by people that were too chicken shit to face up to their own inadequacies, their faults are not your burden to carry.

Every time you feel that shit piling up on you imagine taking a huge heavy backpack off your back & putting it on the ground & say to yourself that's not mine. Seriously you are carrying a whole metric fucktonne of other peoples shit around in your head. Not getting along with a person or a company is not a fault it's just a thing that happens, other people blaming you for it is their issue not yours. That is an SEP. . .someone elses problem.

Your only problem isn't that you are fuck up it is that you are currently in between jobs & lonely & sad. These are things people are from time to time. You will find a job, you know people you just need to reach out to them & in time the sad will pass. You will grieve & heal & have a scar or two but the sad will pass. You are not your emotions, you are not your current life situation, these are things you are going through they are not who you are.

Also good on you for being proactive for seeing a therapist for getting out & volunteering & you're looking for work, see you aren't a fuck up you're doing all the things you need to do, now you just have to give it time.

I'd add keep a gratitude journal, they can really help. Also go out of your way to be kind to people, even in small ways it's amazing how helping other people can make you feel better.
posted by wwax at 1:10 PM on October 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm so sorry; what a bunch of crappy stuff to happen. In addition to all the upthread great advice, I think you need to set yourself a challenging but reachable goal for the next few weeks.

Right now, you need to have an area of control in your life. You need a thing you can do daily; that will make you feel good while you're doing it and also when you're done.

I suggest running. Get yourself high quality workout clothes (especially really fun socks) from Target or TJ Maxx, a good set of headphones, and create a playlist with all your guilty pleasure songs that make you smile.

Start with a Couch to 5k or if you already run, start training for a half marathon. You will force yourself to run most days. You will follow this program. You will feel great when you're done because you finished doing a THING and also the endorphins will help lift your mood. And hey; in 30 minutes you managed to do something really wonderful for yourself.

Check out Yoga with Adrienne for a new daily practice. You will get in touch with your body and release tension as you build muscle and you will learn an appreciation for all the things your body can do.

I also suggest checking out The Honest Guys YouTube channel. They have some very nice guided meditations that I turn to when my mood needs a boost.

This is a really good time to force yourself to discover some new recipes. Maybe you can perfect ratatouille or enchiladas or brownies.

Do you knit or crochet? This is the perfect time to create something.

And if you can adopt a cat, do that also!
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:25 PM on October 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

Sorry you've had such terrible things happen to you. Anyone would feel pretty down on themselves after that (even though there's no reason to - you've don't nothing wrong).

You mention a therapist... are you doing CBT? I think you might find it really helpful. Your post is full of a lot of the type of thoughts CBT is designed to tackle, e.g.

* Very black and white statements/catastrophising ("I am officially a fuck-up"),
* Assuming you know how other people are thinking/feeling ("I can hear my ex laughing in the background")
* Feeling as if you are personally responsible for things that weren't your fault.

There are lots of AskMe posts with recommendations for CBT resources (usually including David Burns's Feeling Good or his Feeling Good Handbook) and it's something you can do on your own at home on a regular basis if that suits you best. It might be another project you could add to your schedule to give you some daily structure.

In my experience, it can give some immediate relief from some really painful thoughts, as well as having a more profound cumulative effect if done over time. Best of luck.
posted by penguin pie at 1:45 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Listen, you've gotten a lot of people telling you you're not a fuck-up. And for what it's worth, I agree with them.

But the trick is not exactly that, right? The problem is that you think you're a fuck-up, not that others don't think that.

It's a long journey. But here's a small mental trick that always helped me even when I was truly feeling horrible.

Imagine that a friend of yours has gone through every circumstance you've just described.

Imagine it happened to them, not to you.

Now ask yourself if -- even for one moment -- you'd go to that friend and say, "Man, are you a fuck-up. You know why you got laid off? It must be because you are some kind of bad person, and you deserve it."

I'm guessing you just recoiled in horror at the sheer hatefulness of saying that to someone you like/love. (But I just quoted your post.)

So apply the same kind eye you'd give them to yourself. No double-standards.
posted by WCityMike at 3:17 PM on October 27, 2016 [8 favorites]

Do you have friends that have had things like this happen to them? I do. I know people who have been fired, broken up with, failed out of school, gone to jail, filed for bankruptcy, lost children, lost months of their life due to illness, moved across the country for a job they quit after less than a week. All of them are good decent people. Even in the cases where something happened that was a result of their actions, they continued on by making choices to demonstrate that shitty luck doesn't define them. Would you say these terrible destructive things to a friend in your place? I bet not, because you know how hurtful they are to hear. What would you say to a friend? What would you do for a friend? Be that friend to yourself, please.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:47 PM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry to hear you've been dealt two harsh blows in a row.

Two things:

1. I don't know if you know the parable of the Chinese farmer, but it's gotten me through some pretty rough times in my life. Life is full of ups and downs, and things that feel like crap right now can be blessings in disguise. The point is, you never know.

2. Job loss (and a break up) are "events" that can be dealt with practically, without the added angst or pain. Your job loss and breakup really hurt right now because the ego part of your brain is adding the story that these things happened because you're a fuck-up. The ego (ego isn't necessarily about arrogance or showing off) likes to make us feel bad about ourselves so it can keep trying to control our lives. Right now, it's in your face, screaming, "See what happened! Listen to me or bad shit will keep happening to you!" It likes to keep us terrified because it wants to be the only voice that matters in your head.

But the ego is just one voice, and you don't have to believe it. Right now you need to practice quieting that voice, set it aside, and learn to access the voice that loves you unconditionally no matter what you do. IMHO, the unconditional loving voice is the wiser voice of the two, and the one that is a key to a happy life. Meditation, CBT, DBT, zen buddhism...there are a ton of resources to help you to deal with these inner voices, in addition to some very good suggestions in this thread. Start looking into how to tame and recognize that very unhelpful ego voice.
posted by neeta at 3:48 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Second, being on the job hunt and just sending out resumes blindly to companies and never hearing back is both demoralizing and also totally ineffective. I've said it here on AskMeFi before and I will say it again: I don't know anyone who has gotten a job by blindly sending a resume to an online job listing. It's about being referred or hearing about a job from someone. If you are just blindly sending resumes out, please do start networking instead. Schedule coffee with people, shoot others emails and let them know you are looking, etc.

For the record, I have only ever gotten jobs by "blindly" sending resumes out. I have had people reach out to me in the traditional "networking" manner that is supposedly the only way that works, and while it did take up an enormous amount of my time (and theirs, at their expense) there was no possible mechanism by which I could help them, since I'm not a hiring manager. Eighteen months later, I know two of the people I saw are still looking.

I mean, sure, in the commercial market I've known it to take nearly 400 applications and about 20 interviews to get hired; in my specialist sector it was way less. I guess if I could afford to be unemployed for a couple of years or more I might go the networking route, but I just want to chime in that applying for jobs is not the total dead end it's cracked up to be.

What I would suggest is that, rather than settle in for a long haul of adopting new hobbies, you redouble your job searching efforts. If the market is "slow", you have to be twice as fast. If you were applying for 10 jobs a day, apply for 20.

Obviously you need to exercise and you need absorbing hobbies, but those should be fitted in AFTER your 14-hour day of job searching. Okay, it won't always take 14 hours. But it's demanding.

Anyway, you know you aren't a fuckup or you wouldn't be putting those statements out there for us to refute. Or maybe you are a fuckup, in which case I'm not even human by comparison, because men don't even get interested enòugh in me to get to the point of breaking up with me, and I've been fired and put to shame many more times than you have. So what would you advise me to think of myself? Would you tell me to go kill myself because my track record shows I deserve to die? That's really the train of thought you're following here, with statements like "my entire worth as a human depends on the opinion of these two people/organizations that rejected me".

If you would really stand by the negative statements you make about yourself, just sit right there and I will come and pick you up and we will go to a Donald Trump rally and stand next to Donald Trump and inhale until we are dead. Goodbye, cruel world.

Or maybe if you realize it's actually kind of silly to call yourself a fuckup, you can take a deep breath, have a shower and put on clean pyjamas, then tuck yourself in bed with a good book ready to start your job search fresh in the morning. Then get up, do a good HIIT workout (I like the BeFit channel on YouTube), shower, eat an empowering breakfast and get to work.

NO WHINING. That's not what will help you right now. Be a Determinator, the monster in the unreasonably long ending sequence of the movie, that they just can't kill no matter what they throw at it. You are an unstoppable machine. You go, girl.
posted by tel3path at 3:59 PM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm so so so sorry this all happened to you. You didn't do it! It happened TO YOU. As someone else said upthread, that's kind of the nature of life, unfortunately. I don't mean that to be glib or make light of your situation! This just super super sucks, and now it's this series of bullshit you have to deal with even though you don't really want to and would rather travel backwards or forwards in time to avoid this next few months. And it's not because you earned it, and you also can't, like, #bootstraps yourself out of it. Bad things happen to good people and vice versa, and one day some good stuff is going to happen to you, and it's going to feel amazing, especially compared to how you feel right now.

Okay so, since you mentioned you did well throwing yourself into (or being distracted by) something during the breakup, maybe you can immerse yourself in job searching. Job searching sucks and is hard and it will be demoralizing, so you should probably spend some time every night doing something you enjoy or are good at, like cooking or video games or seeing friends or reading. If you could enroll in a class that would help your profession, that would be ideal--you'd meet people AND be working to improve your job prospects.

If you're applying for jobs online, check out super specific job boards that are related to your industry. Monster and CareerBuilder probably won't cut it anymore (or maybe you're too young to even know about those!), sadly. If there are companies you have heard of or enjoy, check out their websites directly for job opportunities. Definitely use LinkedIn and other networking but literally every job I've ever had came from a traditional method like hunting online.

If your self-esteem is in the gutter, please be careful about using sex to feel better about yourself. Speaking from personal experience, it usually results in a short-term high that is unsustainable and results in feeling worse than before if the person never calls me back or isn't interested in seeing me again. Being kind to yourself includes long-term, and long-term you deserves the best.

For an anecdote: I started working full time in office jobs at 18. I got fired from 3 different ones, and when I was 26 (EIGHT YEARS of working in offices, like a "real" adult, I thought), I broke my ankle and got fired from my job within the span of a week. I had to move in with my parents. When I eventually healed and could walk, the only job I could get was as a waitress. I had to go to a family reunion as a 27 year old who lived at home and waited tables, again, EIGHT YEARS after being a valid, respectable adult. I was so, so embarrassed. But I mean, eventually I got a different job and moved out and met someone and we got married and bought a house and now I live in my dream city and have my dream job. It just took some time, and I learned a lot! For instance, waiting tables isn't any less respectable of a career than any office job, jobs don't define you, and neither does your relationship status. You're a great human being on your own, regardless of those markers. When you start believing that too, things'll get way better.

posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:10 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

I am really sorry you're going through this. You're not a fuckup. You're going through a really tough time.

I'm going through a similarly bad time and it's really helped me to read philosophy. I recommend 'Man's Search for Meaning' by Viktor Frankl. His theory was that we can endure anything if we can find meaning in life, a purpose.

We can find meaning in a creative or intellectual pursuit, doing a good deed, making a connection with another person, experiencing nature or art. And even if everything is taken from us and we must endure unavoidable suffering, we can find meaning by facing that suffering bravely.

Frankl also says that we are always 'becoming' through our choices: 'Man does not simply exist, but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become the next moment'. We are never just a person who's been dumped, or just a person who's been fired. Think of the freedom that gives you and me to not be defined by bad things that have happened to us.

My thoughts are with you.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 5:15 PM on October 27, 2016 [7 favorites]

"Positive affirmations" sound so corny, but actually can help.

As in, reminding yourself of how you ARE a good, strong, kind, intelligent person.

When I was in a very down place, I'd tell myself things like "I floss every day, and that's really good for me." or "I take really good care of my kitty."
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:04 PM on October 27, 2016

Out of left field but where I live, employers are begging for workers to take seasonal jobs. Might be a good distraction for you and help get you out of your slump to look for seasonal work.
posted by rw at 10:18 PM on October 27, 2016

A fuckup wouldn't have written this AskMe.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:31 AM on October 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

One final thing: my aunt has a very interesting and I think useful view on bad times and going through struggles. Her motto is something like:
"The bad thing I am going through right now probably saved me from an even worse thing." And she doesn't necessarily mean related worse things you can forsee. I mean, who knows, maybe your old building blows up and would have died in the explosion if you still worked there. Or maybe because you got fired you weren't walking down a street at a particular time where you would have been hit by a car.

As a cancer survivor I'm guessing my aunt adopted this way of thinking out of necessity, but it is really useful and can do a lot to sort of smooth things over. I suffer from relatively severe clinical depression and I definitely struggle with finding good in difficult situations, but with this way of thinking I don't have to see the specific good that comes from my shitty situation. I just try to focus on "This shitty situation saved me from something even shittier down the line. I don't know what it is but it would have sucked even worse than this sucks".
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:11 AM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

To tail off what others have said, repeat: You are not your job. You are not who chooses to love you. You are not who chooses to be your friend. You are not what is happening to you, good or bad. You are not your feelings. You are not your thoughts.
You are you. And you are awesome just because you are you. And mo betta? you will always be you, and always awesome.
Everyone who wrote here including me, is offering heartfelt empathy. Because we are all human and we have all experienced the facets of being alive. And being alive means so much more when you can develop self compassion.
If you are so inclined, read "When Things Fall Apart"

In peace
posted by jtexman1 at 6:42 AM on October 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

I sense you already know it feels a lot worse in the moment, because two things happened and not just one. Which seems to happen more than not, but it doesn't really help to hear that because the combination feels like so much more than the sum of the parts.

You are also right to describe this as a year. That's how you are going to see it later. You have plans for next year. This year is turning out to be sort of a crucible for you. People throw this saying around a lot: "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste." Let this be a time to heal but also to grow. You're going to look back in a few years and say, "Wow, I was really a different person then and that awful year got me to where I am now."
posted by BibiRose at 9:05 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, I kind of like the idea of seasonal work and this, as in today, is a good moment to grab it. But only if you can go in with a certain amount of mental armor. People can be really shitty over the holidays-- and not just the customers. If you are going to go into a bookstore or a food market or being a barista, everything will depend on the management of that particular place. I worked in one store where the managers were so nasty I'm sad I didn't report them for harassment. The place after that, it was a pleasure to go to work. If a job like that doesn't turn out well, don't think the problem is with you. If it works out though, it could be a nice chunk of change and the employee discount may come in handy. And if a seasonal job does not work out, no one has to know.
posted by BibiRose at 9:18 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't have the break-up issue (I decided long ago that it was better to be alone than to be unhappy), however I was fired, laid off, dismissed, terminated from my last project at the end of February 2016. I have run out of unemployment and still need a job.

It is terribly wounding to feel as if you have failed at something important in your life. I am not very good at self-care and I have some mental health issues that I do take care of (panic disorder, ADHD, general anxiety). I just picked up a book at my library, called Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff. It is helping me see things differently. It might be worth looking at.

Also, if there is anyplace offering equine therapy near you, I would recommend looking into it. There is amazing power in connecting with such kind, accepting beings. Because they don't have words and they are prey animals, they know what is happening with you with astonishing accuracy by reading the fine details of your body language.

Neither the break up nor the job loss is your fault. You are worthy of compassion and love. Embrace yourself as you are and take the next step. Unfold what is in front of you. You are not alone. We are here, caring.
posted by Altomentis at 10:30 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm officially a fuck-up.

Absolutely nothing I read in either post even hints at that being true.

I feel that it must be because I am some kind of bad person, and I deserve it.

Nope, nope, nope. It really sounds like you're doing the right things - therapy and volunteering in particular. This really just sounds like a round of bad luck, and a combination of therapy, time and meeting some good folks socially is going to get you right.

Lots of folks have gone through these sorts of things (Ask me how I know), and they really, really suck when they happen. They key thing is that they're NOT your fault. Your ex's communication issues are not your fault. Your ex-job's lunacy (messy desk? Who cares?) are NOT your fault. Take care of yourself, give yourself some time and things will get better. Good luck!
posted by cnc at 12:25 PM on October 28, 2016

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