Free at last, free at last!

Madame Weebles —  June 27, 2012 — 103 Comments

I was laid off last week.  And you know what?  I was thrilled.  THRILLED.  If I hadn’t been laid off I would have quit.  And while I would have enjoyed leaving on my own terms, it actually worked out better for me this way because now I get severance and unemployment benefits.

I was in the pharmaceutical industry (yes, Evil Big Pharma) for more than 10 years.  I was lucky enough to love my job for much of that time.  But from the very beginning it meant long, long hours.  I frequently didn’t get home until after 10pm.  Getting home at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning wasn’t unusual.  In fact, on my last day in the office before I took time off to get married, I was at work until 3am.  I pulled many all-nighters.  I worked more weekends than I care to count.  I worked my ass off.  And if I say so myself, I was damned good at my job.

But the past few years really sucked, for a variety of reasons that aren’t worth discussing.  And my physical and mental health suffered as a result.  I had no time to myself.  I fielded work calls, emails, and texts when I was out of the office—it didn’t matter if I wasn’t feeling well or if I was on vacation.  They still came after me.  Hell, they called/emailed/texted even when I was at the hospital with Mr. Weebles when he was sick last year.

I was pretty sure this layoff was coming.  So last Monday, when I got The Call (“Hi, can you come into the conference room for a minute?”), it wasn’t a surprise.  In fact, I was truly hoping it would happen.

And now I’m free.  It feels fantastic.  My time is my own for the first time in many, many years.  I’m eating and sleeping properly, which I haven’t done in ages.  I’m having a good time just being.  Even chores like going to the supermarket and cleaning the house are fun activities right now.  (Note to self: Take advantage of this while it lasts.)

And after I feel sufficiently detoxed, I’m moving on to my new career.  I talked about this recently, and after mulling it over a bit more I’ve decided that yes, I will indeed become a Patient Advocate.  People need help, and I want to help them.  It feels right.

I realize how fortunate I am.  I’m not panicked about being out of work, I’m not worried about how I’ll pay my bills and mortgage, and I’m not anxious about finding a new job.  Mr. Weebles is the most wonderful and supportive husband a woman could ask for, and we’ll manage just fine.  I feel extremely grateful and blessed.  By losing my job, I’ve gained a lot more.

Thanks, Former Employer, for cutting me loose.  Thanks for helping me to understand what a dysfunctional place I was in.  If you hadn’t been so over-the-top insane, I might not have realized it.

103 responses to Free at last, free at last!

  1. 

    I will indeed become a Patient Advocate. People need help, and I want to help them. It feels right.

    This so sorely needed.

  2. 

    It’s interesting how, sometimes, it’s things like these that are the best things an employer can do for their employee(s). I can’t wait to hear more about your work as a patient advocate too. You’re a natural helper. Congratulations on being laid off! :D

  3. 

    Congrats and enjoy! (your hubby sounds like a fantastic person..like you) EXCEPT Yankee fan, really?

    • 

      That’s funny, that’s what Mr. Weebles says: “Yankee fan, really?” I’m sure we can still be friends, unfettered—unless of course you’re a Red Sox fan. Then we’ll have to talk. ;)

      • 

        well then… we must talk. I am a die hard… and die often Red Sox fan. I live for baseball season.. and my Sox

        • 

          Ruh-roh. Well, I used to work with a guy who’s a die-hard Sox fan too, and despite much trash talk (and I mean MUCH trash talk), we’re still buddies. And Mr. Weebles is an Orioles fan/Yankee hater from way back, so I do have experience in befriending fans of Other Teams.

  4. 

    My employer let me go 3 years ago and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. EVER. (Well, marriage and kids are first.) If she didn’t, I wouldn’t have written a book, spent my daughter’s senior year of high school home with her before she shoved off to college, and traveled extensively. Woo Hoo! Here’s to unemployment!

    • 

      Exactly, Robin—it’s one of the best things that could have happened to me. All the things you can’t do when you’re tethered to The Job, I can do them now. I wish unemployment were this great for everyone.

  5. 

    I got laid off almost 10 years ago (August 2002), it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I took my severance, and got my ass back to school full time… 3 years later I had an associates and a bachelor’s degree….THANKS former employer. :)

  6. 

    I notice a huge difference in your chi and stuff already. I’m glad that you’re unemployed, frankly. Peace and harmony are way better than sturm und drang.

  7. 

    Congrats, MW. I’m so happy for you! And it’s great that you get a break – sounds like it’s long overdue. Oh yes, and it looks like you’ve had time to do another Weebles picture…Uhhh, a little gory, don’t you think? :-)

    Cathy

  8. 

    MW — congrats! It sounds as if things have worked out exactly the way they are supposed to. I’ve been EXACTLY where you are and like you, my incredible hubby was there and it really was for the best. I think you would make a MAGNIFICENT patient advocate because your sweet soul and kindness comes through all your writing. I don’t mean to make light of this, but it sounds like you are grateful, knew it was coming and know that there are much, much better things in store for you. I know there is. Be well, MW and here’s to many, many much needed restorative moments. :).

  9. 
    Fish Out of Water June 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    My husband dreams of getting laid off. Congratulations! I think the world will be better off with you being a patient advocate anyway. :)

  10. 

    Congratulations! I’m so glad that you feel relief. This is a great opportunity for you on different levels. I’ve been in this position before and felt that same relief. Looking forward to more blog posts?! And it happened right at the beginning of summer — enjoy!

  11. 
    robinjeanmarie June 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Great things are in store for you, Weebles–I can feel it.
    I look forward to hearing all about the New Adventures of Madame W. :-)

  12. 

    What a great way to start your summer! You have the right attitude. You’ve taken your power back — no wonder your chi is happy!
    I’m glad the universe is aligning for you Weebles! You’ll be an amazing patient advocate. : )

    • 

      That’s what it feels like, Grippy—my power is back. I guess I didn’t really take it back as much as I had it unwittingly given back to me, but I won’t argue. I think this was definitely the final Universal kick in the ass I needed. :D

  13. 

    Congratulations! Sometimes wishes do come true. Weebles are wonderful when fully free to weeble wobble at will.

  14. 

    You have a great attitude. I think you will make a great patient advocate

  15. 

    Couldn’t be happier for you! And I’m a bit envious too.
    I used to work in restaurants, and know the pain of nights/weekends/always on call.
    Looking forward to hearing how this new chapter unfolds!

    • 

      The always-on-call thing blows, big time. I know patients will need help at inopportune times too, but better a patient with genuine concerns than some jackass coworker who can’t be bothered to think for him/herself. Thanks, Guap. :)

  16. 

    congratulations! redundancy is under-rated in many cases… i spent an hour at the office today, in my dank office, researching the impact of early retirement. then sat daydreaming about what it would feel like to get paid to do nothing for a few years. 10% reduction in benefits if i do it now, rather than wait 5 years. tis a conundrum…

    can’t wait to hang around and see how the patient advocate goes — i wanted to do this when i was caring for Dad. and may well pick it up should that early retirement thing come into play soon… i could start up a sattelite office in my little town. then we could do skype conference calls and lay down the snark when needed…

    • 

      That is a conundrum. But if you decide on the early retirement I would SO be up for a joint venture–I suspect a daisyfae/Weebles smackdown would be enough to make even the more arrogant doctor cower in fear…

  17. 

    Hi Free Weeble

    Wow! It’s great that you can take such an event in your stride. If you’re not under crushing pressure to get another income it’s a great opportunity to do really figure out what you want to do and go after it. It’s important to like your work because we spend a large fraction of our lives there.

    Good luck with the patient advocacy (even though I’m sure you don’t need it!)

    Cheers :)

    • 

      Hi Nigel! Yes, I feel very fortunate to be able to accept the layoff this way, I know not everyone can. So I’m very happy. And after spending years of being at work for 10+ hours a day and hating it, I really do realize how important it is to like your work.

  18. 

    Congrats on your new found freedom! Sometimes we need that extra push in order to regain our momentum in life and refocus on what it is we really want.

    Patient advocacy is a great field! Tough but rewarding.

  19. 

    Does this mean the sniper kitten can put the rifle down, or will kitty just stand guard in case Big Pharma comes looking for all the pencils and post-it-notes you’ve ‘borrowed’ over the years?

  20. 

    You must feel like you just woke up to a warm sunny day where the world is yours for the taking. Good for you. I wish you the best of luck in your next life chapter. Patient advocacy seems a great choice.

  21. 

    Hooray for you! I’m serious–your attitude is refreshing, and sadly rare. Don’t ever change, and enjoy your freedom. And a great big F*** You to your former employer.

    • 

      Amen, Smak—a hearty F*** You to them because they still deserve it. I’m sure they had no intention of doing me a favor. I like to think I’ll have the last laugh, though, because I’ll eventually be making a living again, and they’ll be running their company right into the iceberg.

      • 

        You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about this in the twenty-four hours or so since I read this post–it really affected me. I only know you as a disembodied voice on the interwebs, but I am SO proud of you.

        Over two years ago, I lost my job (I didn’t really “lose” it per se; it was still there, but they didn’t want to pay me for doing it any more) in the insurance industry. Like you, I felt liberated, but when I told people, they’d say things like, “Good for you–putting a good face on it.” But it wasn’t that at all! This wasn’t psych-up stuff, positive thinking (although I am a fan of that in moderation), but actually how I felt. People couldn’t shake the idea that I was laughing to keep from crying.

        Those two years have been some of the most productive in my life. I started a new career (with which I’ve begun to have some success) that keeps me at home with my wife and kids.

        People put so much stock into their jobs, as if their situation defines them. This is dangerous and unhealthy. I mean, having a job is nice and all, but when’s the last time anybody starved in America? Really.

        Keep on with your bad self!

        • 

          Awww, thanks, Smak. You’re awesome. Your ex-girlfriend is stabbing herself right now, overwhelmed with longing and regret. She’s also thinking about chucking it all and joining the convent.

          And you’re right–we’re the only country that freaks out about work this much. Largely because our employers have cultivated that sort of environment, and that sucks. I mean, in what other country are people afraid of taking vacation time because they’re afraid they might lose their jobs as a result? That isn’t right. And it doesn’t help that we have less time off than the rest of the world, too.

          I’m not buying into it anymore. I’m glad I have the luxury to make that choice. Mosty friends and former coworkers have all had the appropriate reaction, which was “Yay!” But some people did say “Are you okay? Do you want me to put out feelers for you?” Which is incredibly kind of them, but I’m not going to get another job just for the sake of cranking out more money for The Man. Especially when there are so many other worthwhile things to be done out there.

          High five, Broseph!

  22. 

    I can see the scene clearly, “Please, please Big Pharma, whatever you don’t fling me into that unemployment line.” As you hum Zippity Do Dah and skip out of the conference room. Or maybe it was “I can see clearly now; the rain has gone?” ;-)

  23. 

    wow – you were working WAY too many hours. Enjoy a well earned rest.

  24. 

    Enjoy the liberation … and good luck on the next step of your journey.

  25. 

    This is interesting timing since I’m being laid off effective end of tomorrow and was just about to post about it.

    Enjoy your respite. One door closes, another door opens and all that jazz.

  26. 

    Good Luck to old pharma finding someone willing to put in those hours. They wont be able to dump that work on to one employee! I was in a toxic job once and I looked forward to being sick. If I had no morals I would have joined the ranks of the chronically sick and injured.

    • 

      You know what the sad thing is, Wanda? They’ll find someone to do it. It’s just the job. But it ain’t mine anymore so it’s all good. And believe me, I fantasized about joining the ranks of the chronically sick to get out of work.

  27. 

    Enjoy hanging out dude, it sounds like you deserve it!!! Liquor and I wish we could join you.

  28. 

    Congrats to you!

    I’ve had a number horrible jobs. The weird thing, however, was that when I knew I was about to be fired, I was filled with anxiety. Even though the job was terrible, and I hated the work, and the pay was lousy, and I knew getting fired would be the best thing for me, I was always wreck. The anticipation killed me.

    Then, once the boss finally did the deed, I’d experience a huge release — and get a sudden urge to say “What took you so damn long?”

  29. 

    Congratulations! As soon as I read your title, the first thing that popped into my mind is: “Yaayyy! A new patient advocate is born!” :)

  30. 

    I came back to say that I looooove your new header!!

  31. 

    Only the best in your new endeavors, Madame! It sounds like you’ve found something you believe in – which seems like it’s half the battle (well – I would assume, anyway, as I clearly have no clue, but that’s another story)!
    My sister is a Yankee fan, too. We grew up in ND so with no major league ANYTHING we had to outsource our loyalties. :)

    • 

      Thanks, spilledinkguy. And man, that is some serious outsourcing, from ND to NY. I would have figured someone in North Dakota would follow the Twins or something. But hey, your sister chose wisely just the same. ;)

  32. 

    Congrats big time! Now I feel like a change :)

  33. 

    Right on! Glorious freedom and a wonderful purpose. It doesn’t get much better than that. :-)

  34. 

    Yaaaaaaay, congratulations! Your positive attitude is wonderful. You’ll be a great patient advocate. I hope that this truly is the beginning of all good things for you!

    • 

      I hope so too, Kathy—of course it’s easy for me to have a positive attitude now, at the beginning…we’ll see how long it is before I start bitching and moaning. ;)

  35. 

    Congrats on getting out of a toxic situation. I wish you much success and righteousness as a patient advocate. We need more people who can navigate the system and speak up for those who can’t.

  36. 

    Best wishes for moving into this new phase of your life! And kudos to your husband for being so supportive. :) Looking forward to hearing how positive the effect is being on your writing.

    • 

      Thank you very much! Yeah, Mr. Weebles is a peach. I’m sure this new chapter will give me much fodder for writing, but I’m still basically a cranky person so I don’t know that it will change that much. ;)

  37. 

    I am so very happy for you! I cannot wait to hear about your new life. Enjoy the summer! Are you doing anything fun and adventurous?

    • 

      Thanks girly—I have nothing planned other than catching up on all the mindless television I haven’t had a chance to watch, sleeping late, and maybe some other random stuff. That’s all I got so far. Any suggestions?

  38. 

    We seem to have the same feelings about work. Whenever my boss says “Can I see you for a moment?” I panic. Thinking they’ve caught onto all the bad things I’ve done. Then I remember, I do those bad things I’m not supposed to so I have an excuse to leave. One bad thing I’ve done? Commenting on this blog right now.

  39. 

    Glad to hear you’ve found the silver lining, and so easily! Hope you enjoy your newfound freedom, and good luck when you start again! You know we’re all going to get spoiled now, and expect of all sorts of fun blogs as you chip away at your bucket list with your newfound spare time…

    • 

      I know, the pressure will be on to come up with new and exotic stuff in my blog posts. I’m already worried, as the most exotic thing I’ve done so far is sleep until noon.

  40. 

    You’re the first person I know that’s kissing the sky over getting laid off in this rancid economy — and I do think you’re sincere and you’re not faking it. It’s great that Mr. Weebles is such a supportive mate that also views this as a positive transition. I’ve heard scary rumors that my company is seriously considering reducing the work-week from five days to three. 3 1/2 years ago my wages were reduced 20% and I’ve never see a dime of that back. If they proceed with cutting back on our days, my pay will then be reduced 54% from what I was making in 2008. If they let us keep our health insurance it won’t matter for I will no longer be able to afford the $72.61 weekly employee contribution for it and I’ll also have to end my measly 401k contribution. I will probably have to cash out one of my 401k’s just to make ends meet until I find another job that pays a living wage. I’ve been looking for other work but it’s pretty bleak out there for someone my age with my pathetic skill set since my technological skills were developed shortly after the era of 8-track tape. Maybe you and Mr. Weebles will consider adopting me if I am subject to this loss or my company finally collapses — whatever comes first? Sorry to be the diseased salmon floating in this ocean of optimism. Yet, I do think you’re onto something marketable and timely with patient advocacy. I wish you well.

    • 

      See, this is why I feel so incredibly and humbly fortunate, because I’m the only one I know who isn’t talking along the lines that you are. It’s scary out there and companies are clamping down even further. Mr. Weebles and I would be very pleased to adopt you—how do you want your room painted?

  41. 

    Yee hah! Best of luck to you on your new venture; it is absolutely a necessary thing in the quagmire that is our health care system. BTW, my husband does PR for biopharm companies, mostly smallish ones and mostly doing experimental stuff. So, we don’t mind pharma at our house….too much.

  42. 

    Congrats! The three times I’ve been laid off in the last 30 years have opened the door to many great things, most importantly, new friends. Sounds like a great new direction you’re heading…

  43. 

    Hi, Mandy introduced me to your blog. Wow! That company sounds abusive making you work all those extra hours and invading your non-working hours with emails, phone calls and texts. Great that you got redundancy and can now be free to do something you really want to do.

  44. 

    Good for you! I know that I felt the same way after being laid off years ago! I too was in Pharma, but on the road. Burnt out and not well, it came as a relief. Friends commented on how well I was looking, even when the stress of job hunting started to mount.
    All the best in your chosen new path. Good for you for taking your knowledge to help others. I am sure many will benefit.

    • 

      I hope so, Anita—Pharma is a tiring business, I can see how you got burned out, especially if you were on the road. That’s exhausting work. I hope you’re well and happy now. And thank you so much for visiting and commenting!

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  1. Taking a blogging break | Fear No Weebles - August 31, 2012

    [...] I was laid off, I thought, great, now I’ll have the chance to do all the things I didn’t have time or [...]

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