DABDA should have more letters. Like S or C or Q and whatever else is needed for the “sitting alone eating chips & queso” stage. Are we really fine with only five stages of grief? I can blast through those easily and without a blink. Also, don’t love that it’s called “grief.” My current dabble into DABDA doesn’t feel so much like “grief” as it does just a punch to the gut.
Sure, it’s only been a few days since my company put me on the Choose Your Own Adventure track. I wouldn’t say it’s going very well. It’s mostly going kind of well, but definitely not very well. And, no corporate security, this will not be disparaging in any interesting way. Please recall the balloon you’ve had hovering over my home office since last week. I don’t have the energy to get snarky. Oh wait, did that sound snarky?
Today. Yes. Today, I am clickity-clacking while sitting at Chipotle with a friend. Well, I will be with a friend. One of the instant changes when learning that I would soon be unemployed was a resurfaced ability to be too early. I suppose, for now, that’s just a byproduct of feeling like my normal daily schedule was ripped out from under me. So, while I wait for said friend to arrive, I am going elbows-deep into a bag of tortilla chips. I realized, at 12:26 pm, that I’d not yet eaten breakfast.
A byproduct of the early returns in this change is my missing norm of meals around events. A few days ago, I’d have started the day by checking email over a bowl of oatmeal.
Today: No email, no oatmeal.
Forgot to Eat. What stage is that?
I have always been a creature that lives by the calendar or, at minimum, a list. I don’t necessarily love the word “list” as it seems to denote a bit of rigidness and highlights my OCD tendencies. I try to think of it as more of a map or a guide than a list. As in “mapping out my day …, “ as if each sunrise beckons a journey to be discovered in the coming hours. When word came that I would be parting ways with work, it wasn’t so much the missing: one job that caused anxiety, it was the immediate lack of a defined agenda.
That first morning after, I woke up, grabbed my phone, and … what? What was I doing? No calendar to retrieve. No reason to look at emails. No meetings to prepare for. No need to find the open spot in my schedule to plan a trip to the gym or to Target or to, well, have lunch with a friend. I am not a fan of blank canvases. No need to reply with reasons why I should be, I suspect I’m set in my ways.
I did spend much of that first day announcing to the world just how fine I was. Yeah, no big deal! Sort of expected! Just think of the opportunities! This was going to be a breeze! Who doesn’t love a good transition? Well, me for one. I’m terrible at transitions. I quickly learned that getting laid off was mostly an exercise in consoling others. Yeah, I’ll miss you, too! But you’ll be totally fine! No, I can’t train you how to do that … remember, I’ve been released from duties.
Hello, read the room.
Unable to stop pretending that this is the best thing since sliced bread. What stage is that?
On day two, I caught my husband mumbling something to himself. His words were hard to understand. What did you say? And why was he mumbling something nearly every time we had an interaction? What was that? Did he say “denial? No, wait, what was that!? Oh, right it was “anger.” Wait, was this man really live-tracking my path through DABDA by the minute? And why did he seem to be tracking it as a comforting device? Convincing himself that the present need to dodge zingers was only temporary?
Endless zingers. What stage is that?
On my final, final day, after sending out my final email thanking my team for years of
bliss support, I jumped straight into packing up all of the items that would be sent back to headquarters in the coming weeks. This entailed tracing plugs, unwrapping cord condoms, and making lists (thank you six-pound baby Jesus) of what I would need to purchase to recreate a workspace. I felt an immediate need to rid my office of all things related to my “old” life. Take that! I felt an equally pressing need to create a new and improved office for, wait, what is next? Will I ever really need a new workspace?
I suppose because I’ve had a workspace in my life since I was 14 years old. Love it or hate it, it has long been part of my mental home.
Nesting and nostalgia. What stage is that?
The weekend arrived along with a constant need to check my email for the magic papers that would declare me a company alumni. An odd descriptor, yes. I did not choose it. I have yet to succeed in the oft-given advice to “lay low and enjoy some time off.” Later, perhaps, in a few weeks once the dust has truly settled. I actually woke up on Saturday thinking, “Oh man, the weekend … I hope it doesn’t go too fast …” Then realized it may go fast, but Monday will be a day off and Tuesday will be a day off and, and, and, oh Dear Lord.
I typically have a solid grasp on what I need to get done on weekends (like writing blogs) but keep catching myself avoiding my usual to-do’s with a shrug and a “Guess that can wait until I’m bored on Monday.” In lieu of clickity-clacking, I wandered the house, seeing what everyone else is up to. I think I may be annoying my roommates with these constant pop-ins. I even started a “things we can do together” list, forgetting that I was the only one on a break. Ah, this may be why my husband and son are avoiding eye contact. The combo of uncertainty and ego blow seems to have baked up a need to be near my people and do things together.
Lurking. What stage is that?
I have too much empty space quickly forming in my head. I struggle with those people (well, let’s be real, the person) who have yet to offer any a whisper of encouragement. With back-to-back surgery and a layoff, the universe has shown me yet another opportunity for me to lower my expectations of some. Maybe that’s why I am not yet feeling inspired to kickstart my path again. Then again person does not equal people and the reality is that the scale tips firmly on the side of good tidings (thank you, people!).
Spending too much time in my head. What stage is that?
It is odd how one punch to the gut can serve as a catalyst to stop doing all things. I do know that, in the end, I will be fine. I do know that thinking we actually have endless control of our lives is the perfect reason for God (or Buddha or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you pick) to send a giggle our way. I do know that in three months or six months or a year (or whatever), I will look back at this moment with a firm understanding of its purpose. Eventually, there will be an Oprah Moment of “AH HA!” and it will all make sense and I will be thrilled that this is the direction in which my life went.
Oprah Moment. What stage is that?
And how can it get here sooner?