Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My first glimpse of success redefined

My first job loss was a result of the impersonal injustice of big business.

I had attained a job that I knew was the start of a long, successful career. While well aware that there was a merger on the horizon; having to relocated was the only impact I saw it having on me. Two weeks after my promotion, the official announcement was made. My hard earned position in the Information Technology Department of a large utility company was gone. It was so hard going to work knowing, once the the merger was complete, my job would no longer exist. I had put so much time and effort into climbing this mountain and soon I'd find myself right back where I'd started. I have described it as getting kicked off the mountain right as I made it to the top. That's much too personal. Though it is something that can't happen, it's more accurate to say that the mountain vanished from beneath me. Regardless of which grand metaphor I used, the result was the same. I was at the bottom looking up at 14 years of lost progress. When I told the doctor this, he said I had two options: stay there or start climbing again.

My second job loss was a result of having the wrong response to my first job loss.

I decided to climb again, but climbing was too slow. I now had experience that would allow me to fly to, and beyond, my prior level of success. The dogged determination I had, to make short work of recreating my past success, was unrealistic and destructive. I had so many opportunities to admit that it was time to stop and re-evaluate. Five years into my second attempt to conquer the career mountain, I found myself telling a doctor that my anxiety level at work made me feel like I was on a plane that was about to crash. The doctor leaned forward, looked me directly in the eye, and told me "Steven, it already crashed." His reply was kind, but firm and matter-of-fact. As much as I willed it aloft, that particular plane was now forever incapable of flight. I had survived the crash but there was no getting back on that plane and picking up where I had left off. So, now I'm wandering around in the wreckage of 19 years of striving for career success wondering how I ended up back at the beginning yet again.

It took took reaching the point of attempting suicide to make me decide it wasn't worth it to drive myself with the false notion that anything short of my prior success was failure. I was still struggling with the fact that I'd had already achieved success and had it taken from me. I would have rather never had it to begin with. I attended a mental health support group to help me come to terms with the injustice, loss, and aftermath.

I was told that I was not only a problem person. I was also a solution person. 

I needed others help. Others needed my help.

That was my first glimpse of success redefined.