The organisation my dear friend worked in for 14 years was recently restructured and her position was made redundant. The job still existed but it was expanded and transferred to a different location. It meant that she would have to re-apply for that position if she wanted to stay on and simultaneously relocate. She was given two months notice with the rider that there was going to be no compensation if she decided not to re-apply.
Ironically it was only a year ago when she had moved locations for personal reasons – her husband had received a lucrative offer from a technology firm – it was going to be beneficial both in terms of his role and finances. At that time she had offered to resign but the company wanted her to stay on and continue working for them. She felt disillusioned and angry. She felt like she’d lost a year, a valuable time when she could have found another equally good job but she had trusted her organisation implicitly.
Now she was five months pregnant. After ten years of marriage, the pregnancy had happened unexpectedly and miraculously. She was ecstatic.
But as she tried to cope with both situations and was slowly opening up to friends and family she felt confused. Everyone who heard about her job was angry saying that a loyal, hard-working and sincere employee liker her should have been treated differently. As the restructuring plans were underway her manager should have given her a sense of direction about the possibilities especially since she was always open about resigning and kept asking for clarifications. But when they heard about her good news, the same people told her to forget about work and concentrate on this new phase of her life. Work didn’t matter anymore. Her priority was the child. They advised that she could always tell the wider world that she had taken time off to take care of her child. No one would question losing her job, then!
The timing of both the news was complimentary – a perfect reflection of the saying, that when God closes one door he opens another.
She was truly happy about her pregnancy and thankful for the blessing after such a long time. But for even longer, her job was her identity, gave her social positioning and economic independence. And strangely this sense of loss made her feel as if she was being made to choose between motherhood and her professional career, one she had painstakingly built over the years. It felt like her happiness was at the cost of losing another part of herself. She was torn between the joy of nurturing a new life and having to accept that from the organisation’s point of view she was just collateral damage. She had been toying with the idea of taking a break herself after delivery but the right to take that decision was now taken away from her. It made her feel vulnerable. She wasn’t ungrateful for the way things were panning out, yet she couldn’t shake off the hurt.
As she sat explaining this to me yesterday I too was confused. Like all others, I had also advised her to move on and look forward to taking care of a live project that was her creation, one which she could mould in her own way, where the outcome would never follow a predetermined path. It was going to be experimental and lots of fun. Yet I could see why she hurt when she thought of herself as a person, a woman who had worked hard to build her credibility, professional expertise, and a career where her achievements translated into a steady rise up the corporate ladder.
There are many sides to our lives but most can be divided into personal and professional selves. She didn’t doubt her ability to return to a career later on nor was she questioning her current priority. There were no right or wrong answers and I don’t think she was looking for one either. But it left me wondering about the complexity of the situation and the emotional conundrum that entwining the two lives was leading her through. Was she looking for closure on one so she could move on to the other? Did she want to go through the motions so she could forgive herself for her inability to deal with the professional crisis timely? Or did she just want people to accept that her career was equally important to her and understand that these mixed emotions were something she had to feel and experience so she could let go?
(Also published on http://thechatterjis.wordpress.com/category/daughtergate-diaries/)