Dig Baton Rouge

The Bitter Lemon

By Holly A. Phillips
@OrangeJulius7

A few weeks after I’d met a guy named Justin, we’d already been on several dates, and I was really starting to like him. But one day at work, I was called into a meeting and told that my services were “no longer needed.”

It was the job I’d had for almost seven years; the only job (outside of freelance work) I’d had since graduating from college.

Because it was an at-will termination, they refused to give me answers as to why this was happening. I’d just received a raise, so why were they giving me the boot?

It was very similar to a breakup I’d had years before — one that left me blind-sighted and heartbroken.

But I didn’t have any time to think about why, as I was told I needed to pack my office and leave immediately.

As I packed my belongings (stacks of Jackie Collins novels), Justin texted me to see what I was up to later.

“Well, I just lost my job,” I replied. “So, probably drinking.”

I didn’t know how else to say it.

I felt like things were just starting to line up for me: I got a raise, I was kicking ass at work, and I actually met someone that might be worth my time.

Losing my job was the last thing I expected to ever happen to me, and to be honest, it was a huge blow to my self-esteem.

I felt like I had nothing to offer a boyfriend now, well, aside from witty banter, a functioning liver, and a nice ass.

But instead of ignoring me, Justin stuck by me, and sometimes he was the most supportive person I had.

I didn’t want his pity, and I didn’t want him to feel obligated to pay for our dates, so I was relieved when we got into a routine of cooking at home together.

In order to pay bills, I started looking for work right away. In just a few weeks, I’d applied to nearly 40 jobs, and had eight interviews.

I picked up a few retail jobs to work while I waited for my next career move. While I was thankful for the 14-hour shifts, and near-60-hour work weeks, it was more exhausting than I imagined.

And to my surprise, Justin was there to rub my feet at the end of the long days. It was a kind of caring that I’d never experienced before.

I was really starting to think there could be something serious between Justin and I. After all, if we could make it through something life-changing like losing a job, what else could we make it through?

Since I lost my job, I’ve crossed paths with many of my old coworkers — often while I’m working for minimum wage.

“Isn’t it weird though,” one said to me, “that once you leave the place you’ve been every single day, it’s like you were never there?”

Yes, I thought, kind of like when you finally leave a bad relationship. If anything, I know there’s something better ahead, and perhaps I won’t go after it alone.

Read more about dating while jobless on Holly’s blog, TheBitterLemon.com. 

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