Life in Limbo

My life is in limbo… and not the fun kind.  I am not normally an anxious person.  I don’t have trouble sleeping because of racing thoughts or fear of the unknown.  I actually consider myself to be a pretty easygoing person.  I admit – I don’t love change.  Who really does?  I prefer a sense of order and routine.  I am a planner and usually have one or two back-up plans in case my original plan does not work out.  Despite my preference for the expected, I think I handle the unexpected pretty well.  I have had many things come my way over the years that I handle with grace and a smile.  For some reason, I am having a tough time with this latest set of unexpected circumstances.  I am more anxious than normal, my skin is a mess, stomach often in knots, and I am not the nicest wife right now.  Unfortunately for Les, he has borne the brunt of my anxiety, frustration, and insecurity about my future.

You see – I was recently laid off from my job.  I know that this is a situation too many Americans are facing right now.  Every situation is different, but in my case I saw this coming for a little while now.  In some ways I have seen it coming since I got into the pharmaceutical industry over 10 years ago.  I was actually hired to promote a product that never ended up receiving FDA approval.  Luckily, Bristol-Myers Squibb had plenty of other products doing well and a strong pipeline that allowed me to avoid an early exit from my awesome new career.  Between stricter FDA approval standards, increased public and political scrutiny of the pharmaceutical industry, a changing healthcare and physician practice environment, new technology, and patent expirations – a career in pharmaceutical sales looks very different than it did 10 years ago.  I knew that the patent for the product I promote was nearing the end.  Bristol-Myers does not even own the patent on the product I promote, which means that my job could change if the contract changed.  Bristol-Myers had not been able to develop any new products for our division and had not had any luck finding other suitable companies to partner with in Neuroscience.  I have been through three previous layoffs, thankful and half-surprised to survive each one.  It just seemed like my turn would eventually come, and the signs and hints have been coming for months now that the time would come sooner rather than later.

I am so glad I saw these signs and started preparing, mentally and logistically.  I updated my resume and gathered all of my performance results and awards for the past 6 years, which was the last time that I applied for a job when we moved from Florida to Virginia.  I started my job search a couple of months before the announcement was actually made.  Even though I knew in my gut that the layoffs were coming, I was still a bit surprised and disappointed by the news and the way the news was delivered.  We were told on a Friday afternoon that there would be a mandatory teleconference on Monday (usually the way these announcements go).  Unfortunately, Frakenstorm Sandy was starting to make impact on the east coast on Sunday and the teleconference was pushed back until further notice.  On Monday morning, an e-mail came through from the President of the company announcing the dissolution of the Neuroscience division effective December 31st.  There were very few details in the e-mail, and I had to wait until later in the day when my manager had more information about the changes that were about to take place.  Maybe that e-mail would have been a fine way to announce that 500+ people were getting laid off if the teleconference was still going to take place that day (although I question that wisdom too).  Maybe a better plan would have been for them to go ahead and hold the teleconference Friday afternoon, before the storm was coming, ahead of the President’s e-mail announcement.  Perhaps they could have held off on sending the e-mail until they could reschedule the big teleconference later in the week.  I am not sure what the best strategy would have been, but telling people they are going to lose their jobs via generic corporate mass e-mail, on the same day as a terrible storm, was less than ideal.  We finally got more details by Thursday of that week and were told that we would remain employed through the end of the year.  The expectation is that we do our jobs as normal (as normal as you can in these circumstances), while looking for employment elsewhere.  The Japanese company that owns the patent on the product I have promoted is hiring for many positions around the country, including the exact same job that I have done for six years in Virginia Beach.

I know I am fortunate compared to so many that are going through layoffs and facing an uncertain job market.  I am not the sole breadwinner of my family.  If I do not work, we will not risk losing our home, pulling our kids out of preschool, falling behind on bills, or not being able to put food on the table.  Changes and sacrifices will have to be made for sure, but we would thankfully survive if I could not find a job.  The question is not really do I have to find another job, but do I want to find another job and what job do I want?  This is where the anxiety, indecision, and soul-searching come in.  This is the dilemma of so many mothers out there.  Work vs. not working, part-time vs. full-time, play it safe or take a risk – these choices are a blessing and a curse all at the same time.  I am thankful to even have the luxury of choice and to be in a position where there are jobs out there that I am qualified for and interested in.  I guess I just did not expect it to be this difficult to know what the right course is.  I thought I would have clear signs pointing me in the right direction, but it is much messier and complicated than that… or is it?  There will be several more blog posts coming as I try to sort out all of these issues and decisions in the coming weeks.

On top of all of the changes at work, our beloved nanny for the last 3.5 years is resigning at the end of the year.  She put in her notice around the same time that I found out about the layoff.  She says it is not personal.  She loves working for our family and loves the kids, but her husband’s business is at a point where they need her to do the accounting/bookkeeping full-time.  In all of this bad news, I take a little comfort in feeling like these decisions are not about me personally.  I am not getting let go because of something I did or did not do with work, and my nanny is not leaving because of my children or me.  Shit happens, businesses and people need to make changes because of what is best for them.  I get that, but it still sucks!  Anyone who knows me, knows how much I value our nanny.  She is like part of our family.  I trust her with the kids and the kids love her.  I was in complete denial about her impending departure for at least a month, and I am finally starting to accept the news and find a new nanny.  I already tried bribery, pay increases, and anything else I could think of to get her to stay, but she is set on leaving at the end of the year, even though I can see how difficult this is for her to go.  Of course, I sort of need to know what is happening with my job to figure out if and when I need a new nanny.  So while I am out there interviewing and looking for a new job, I am also interviewing and searching for the best person possible to be our new nanny.

I am getting anxious just thinking about all of the stuff on my plate right now.  Luckily, I do believe that things happen for a reason.  I believe in karma, faith, and fate – all of that stuff you rely on during uncertain and challenging times.  Combined with hard work, preparation, and a bit of luck – these beliefs have never let me down.  Although I certainly don’t always know why things are happening or how they will end up, they usually do work out and have a reason.  It would just be a lot easier and less stressful if I could know how all of this will end up and when.  Hopefully by sharing the journey and my thought process, I can try to cope a little better and get some extra support along the way.