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Me Fired Like Oprah Winfrey? Never!

Losing a job is a major life event. The thought of losing a job gives most of us a sick feeling deep in the pit of the stomach. The loss of benefits, wages and how we will support our families is too much to comprehend. Particularly in my situation is being a widowed, single mom. Most of us live paycheck to paycheck.

I was raised to be ethical and hard working. Being fired from a job never crossed my mind. I was employed at a company for 18 years. Showing up to work on time, not calling in sick and getting great annual reviews made me feel secure. As a result, management strategically moved me during layoffs in order to keep me employed.

Needing a change, I applied for a position in the company that seemed extremely interesting and my best friend at the time worked there.

I was excited to start this new chapter in my life. 

 

Unsuspicious Trust

As time went on, I learned how astounding the workload was. Management realised this and we were told repeatedly to do the best job we could do until the company decided to hire people.  Employees were told this several repeatedly in team meetings.

I naively believed this statement. Like a babe in the woods, I believed I was safe. Working an exorbitant amount of overtime, I felt like a ship navigating choppy waters. I started having dreams of drowning at sea. The workload was too much for one person to bear.

Despite my suggestions for ways to improve the workload, it fell on deaf ears.

Over time, I shared with management my ADHD, as this manager had it too. We would often have conversations regarding our condition. This person knew the struggles with ADHD and how the ADHD mind worked.

Again, I naively made another mistake – trusting and confiding.

 

Innocent Oversights

The more hours I worked, the more exasperated my ADHD symptoms became. My brain was more scattered than it ever had been. It felt as if I were grasping at straws constantly to learn new ways to stay organized. Files on my desk were becoming monumental stacks of chaos. My anxiety reached an all-time high. No matter how many hours I worked, I was sinking further and further each day.

Mistakes were being made by everyone, not just me. And these types of mistakes cost a great deal of time to correct, which further slowed down the workload. Naively believing management would defend us, I finally threw caution to the wind, didn’t worry about it and did the best job I could.

However, this changed halfway into the game.

 

Wicked Employer

I had no idea I was about to find out just how wicked a manager can be. Realising I had made mistakes, I was now being targeted. It wasn’t until after this happened to me, that I learned many others had been fired before me. My stomach now had a constant sinking feeling. It felt as if I were in a bad Lifetime movie and I wasn’t going to live through it.

It is my observation that the power managers have in the workplace is gestapo-esque. Their focus becomes more concerned with the negatives than complimenting the positives: The managers do need to feel they are doing their jobs unless they are complaining.

Even scarier, is the fact the length companies and the Human Resource Department go to defend their managers. Unless employees band together and have the courage to speak out, all managers are backed by the company 100 per cent.

And scarier, managers know this. It can be a license to give a power-hungry, unstable manager to play with and destroy people’s lives.

 

The Documentation

Documenting and defending myself now became a major part of my day. This took time and my work fell further and further behind. At the encouragement of my friend, I went to Human Resources.   Throughout this process, I also naively believed in my stellar reputation as an employee would prevail.

I quickly learned about At-Will Employment Laws. Researching the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at night became the norm. Retaining an attorney before my termination, I believed I was prepared. Believing in a trusted friendship, that was soon to be a witness, also gave me a sense of purpose in this important fight.

I naively trusted my friend that encouraged me to pursue the Human Resource Investigation.

 

The Strength Of Principle – Erin Brockovich Style

You may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t she just quit her job and go somewhere else?”

I will answer you with this: It was important to me to fight for the injustice that I was not only witnessing but had learned that had taken place before me. In fighting this battle, I was reminded of Erin Brockovich. I was driven in hopes my tenacity would uncover the injustice that had been done being not only to me but other employees.

Still in perplexity at what I was experiencing, I kept fighting. I went in each day with a smile on my face and lived by the mantra by Eleanor Roosevelt: “ No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent.” Daily.

I put my best face forward every day. I was not going to let them break me and quit. If they were going to get rid of me, I was going out with a wallop. I would not let this manager destroy me, as she had destroyed the others.

 

The Downfall

Without going into the knitty gritty details, in the end, I lost. Losing my job, my best friend (that was to be a witness for me) and the excellent work reputation I had built. I lost my case with the EEOC because no one had the courage to speak out for fear of losing their job.

Employees who once “had my back”, now were ignoring me. Instead, they had turned on me in order to get on management’s good side. In a matter of weeks, I found myself unemployed. For the first time in my life, I was on Medicaid and food stamps.

 

My After Effects Of Job Loss

After this happened, my mind was numb for two months. I laid on the couch. I felt numb. When someone tried to talk to me, I stared at them. I had nothing to say. I was scared I was having a nervous breakdown.

My doctor said this was my brain protecting itself from the trauma I had experienced. It was going to take a lot of time, therapy and hard work to get my mind in a good place again. I was also embarrassed at being terminated. After all, if someone got fired from their job meant they were a failure.

It hasn’t been easy starting over. There are days I still let the stigma of getting fired get to me.  Creating a new mindset is something I struggle with daily. Some days I do great and other days, I fall apart.

We are the ones in control of ourselves. Having a strong mind is up to us and it is something that I find I have to work on daily. Improving my self-talk has been a must.

 

Five Ways I Rose From Failure

  • “Was this really MY failure?” It has taken me three years to realise I was under a bad manager and what happened was not my fault. I was so embarrassed at the time of being fired, it wasn’t until recently I am able to talk about it openly.
  • I do not let myself get rattled at job uncertainties. See my link HERE on job layoffs at my new job. Even though there is still much job uncertainty, I have confidence if I am to be laid off, I will survive.
  • Increased self-esteem. Not many people are able to fight as I did. It’s mentally and physically draining. This situation made me realise I have higher self-esteem than I gave myself credit for previously.
  • I will not let anyone have power over me. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way there are deceptive, mean people in this world. Some people get a charge out of having power and control over others. I will never give this satisfaction to anyone.
  • I have a better understanding of employment laws. Even though a condition is covered under EEOC statues, it does not mean you have a case. Documentation is not good enough.

 

My New Normal

It was an adjustment to take a job with a lower income, but the payoffs have been worth it. Not working 60 plus hours a week, I am much happier and healthier now. Now I have time to pursue my passions, such as blogging, writing and hobbies I have put off for years. Being around positive people is a must for me. Getting rid of negative people has opened up my world.

Keeping myself at a distance from others has become my new normal. This is something I realize I need to work on. Trusting again is not going to be easy but it is going to be a process for me. In hindsight, I am glad I lost my job. I have learned so much in the process and I am a much better place mentally now.

 

Anna is the author and creator of http://www.mytenaciouslife.com/.

When not writing, Anna can be seen researching, reading, crafting and taking care of her house.  Anna loves to read stories of others' resilience and can be seen reading books of Eleanor Roosevelt to increase her tenacity.