In which I’m hanging by a thread


I’ve lost my job again. This is the third time in eighteen months.

This position was always slightly different from previous ones, as the post was a fixed term contract until March 2011. There was the possibility of an extension for another year, however, pending on funding from the local council, so whilst I always knew it was a finite period, the chance that it might continue for another twelve months was always hovering seductively nearby. Without that definite finish, I could always push away the thought that I’d have to be job hunting come January.

When I found out yesterday that the council definitely isn’t funding the project anymore, I was fine. My boss was upset; she’s losing 4 members of staff which is hitting her hard, but me? I’m an old pro at this, and as mentioned above, it wasn’t a bolt from the blue. I shrugged, emailed S to let him know, and started searching my favourite job sites for new opportunities.

That night I went to my trapeze class. We had a visiting teacher who decided to focus on rope for the evening rather than trapeze. Now the rope and me have an uneasy relationship. I love what other people can achieve on it, but when it comes to doing things myself I’ve always been pretty rubbish. It requires a lot of co-ordination, which has never been my strong point. In the years I’ve been doing trapeze I’ve done some rope, and can climb it pretty well and can do basic things like straddles and even a move called key of foot. But that’s it. Last night, though, I thought it was time I applied myself a bit more and tried to learn the moves the teacher was showing us.

We were working on something called front balance. It’s pretty simple; you hold the rope taut and then take a small jump to wrap yourself onto it, curling like a prawn and hanging on with one arm.  The rest of the class went up one at a time and all of them managed to do it, some first go, others after a couple of attempts.

Finally it was my turn.  But I couldn’t do it.  I tried and tried, but the rope kept ending up across my chest, or my shoulders, or I’d just spin uselessly and then fall off.

To my horror, I could feel the tears welling up. You know those tears, the sort that can’t be suppressed, even with steely gulping and biting of lips and fist clenching?  I muttered something about getting some water and slipped out of the back of the studio to the mercifully empty corridor.  And I cried.

Despite thinking I was OK with losing my job, deep down I wasn’t. No matter how much I told myself that it was pretty certain to happen, and how pragmatic I was, it’s rejection after all, and nobody likes rejection.

It also feels like failure. Not being able to master the rope trick then meant I was heaping failure on more failure until that was all I could see and my brain just couldn’t take it any more.

So I let myself cry for a couple of minutes.  Then I squared my shoulders, dabbed off the specks of mascara around my eyes on my t-shirt, and walked back to that damn rope.  I wasn’t going to let Wednesday 19th January 2011 be a day of total failure; I was going to end on a positive note, even if I took all the skin off my stomach in the process.

So I tried again, and again, and again, until finally, magically, the trick worked.  I hung upside down, and I smiled, and Wednesday 19th January 2011 became just a day with a blip. A large blip, nonetheless, but no longer a total failure.



6 responses »

  1. Oh no. It’s an awful feeling to lose your job. And yes, that feeling of rejection is horrid.
    I hope that something you can love to do comes up.
    But amazing about the rope. You must have felt such a massive sense of achievement to have completed it. X

  2. Helen, I’m very sorry that you’re facing this again, though it seems from reading your blog that you have a great attitude and I expect good things will come for you. I loved this post, especially since today I had a terrible, terrible, terrible day at work and escaped for a few unavoidable tears myself. It didn’t help that I’m really sick with a cold, so I’m sure it all felt much worse than it was. But as you say, one must steel oneself and press on. It must have felt great to finally accomplish the rope trick. Nice one!

  3. Oh hon 😦 that really does suck about the job. But well done on turning things around. It made me think of that episode of SATC when Carrie says “this cannot be the day I got dumped by a Post-It. This has to be a day where something else happened!”

    Anyway. It takes so much strength not to give in to the negativity and focus on something positive, so you’ve really inspired me. Blips! Not failures! I like it.

    Wishing you all the best as you conquer the rope, both metaphorically speaking and otherwise xx

  4. Oh no. That really sucks, and even if it wasn’t a total shock it’s still a horrible feeling. But when one door closes, another one opens and hopefully you’ll find another, better job you really love. Plus, you nailed the rope trick so things were definitely not all bad on your horrid Wednesday! Best of luck with the new job hunt!

  5. Pingback: In which my working life changes yet again | Postcards from the Edge (of the West Country)

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