Thursday, December 29, 2005

Parallel universe

I have recently become better friends with the man whose office is right next door to mine in our building. He is a perilously who recently graduated law school. He is also recently married and his wife is pregnant and due at the end of February. We have shared triumphs and tragedies with one another. I was sad over my Dad losing his job and he shared my indignation. Alex died and he has been sympathetic without being smothering. He hated law school and I commiserated with him. He failed the bar exam and I sympathized (being a two time failure myself). But today he told me something that makes me think about the twists and turns of my life a little bit differently. Last week, just before Christmas, his wife was fired from the company she has worked for for the past eight years. She was a good and faithful employee. So why did she get fired? Did I mention she is due at the end of February?

This story is eerily similar to my own, having been fired from a job in January of 2002, with a baby due in June. I hadn't worked there for eight years (nor would I have wanted to), but it was clear my firing was a pretext for the company to escape maternity leave benefits. And despite the obvious nature of the firing, it did a number on my emotional and mental health. I was already hormonal and my self-esteem was pretty much zilch at that point. I spent the next few months alternating between sad and depressed...and fighting angry, ready to take on the world. Becoming a mom for the first time is hard enough without having to face all the additional hurdles an insensitive world can throw in your path. And I thought it was all so unfair at the time...so harsh.

But here I sat today, talking to J, and I was really able to understand. Of course, I could understand her point of view more than his (I'm sure Steve could give him more insight on how to deal with a crazy pregnant unemployed wife than I)...but I was able to understand and offer more than the average platitude. And I was able to offer perspective...perspective I didn't have back then. It is harsh, and it's ok to feel sorry for yourself...just don't let it eat you alive...because there ARE worse things that can happen to you.

J seems to have a strong and positive attitude about things. He said, "My feeling is, ok, this happened to us...now let's move on." That will serve him well. They obviously love each other and they seem to make a good team. With unemployment benefits, I'm sure they will make it work financially. And like I told him, they have family and friends that will help in whatever way they/we can. And if his wife needs someone to bitch to, I can lend an empathetic ear that has a unique perspective...having been there...and having been to a worse place since.

I wish with all my strength that this is the worst they will ever experience together. I pray they never have to find the perspective I have found. I so hope that one day they will look back on this as the worst thing they ever had to go through.

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