A little over 3 years ago, my life fell apart. I was terminated, suddenly and unfairly from a government job where I had introduced some very innovative programs and policies with the whole-hearted support of the elected officials. The programs and policies I introduced have actually received a great deal of praise and applause from other organizations since I left.
My job termination shook me to the core. I felt betrayed by a Commissioner who had me terminated while he was on holidays after I spent three years trying to make his vision a reality. I felt abandoned by former co-workers who were flippant about the enormity of what had happened to me. I felt betrayed by former staff who have claimed credit for the work I did. I felt shocked by former staff who failed to acknowledge my contribution to their work. While I was out of work collecting employment insurance, all of the people I hired and supervised were riding high on work that I initiated, directed and/or supported. For the last three years, I have sat in the audience at conferences, meetings, workshops and webinars while my former Commissioner or staff have presented the work that I initiated, coordinated and managed without acknowledging me.
During these three years, I have been struggling to find a job, to land contracts, to find funding for projects. I have been doing so alone without the support of an organization, without a base income, without the support of colleagues. It has been exhausting, terrifying and lonely. After 25 years of working, I found myself with no income, a question mark over my professional reputation, no credit for the great work I did for the organization that terminated me, and no defenders. I am not sure I will ever feel the same about the people I worked with. I am not sure that I will ever give as much to an organization again. But some things have changed.
I am back working again for an organization that I left many years ago. I am in a more junior position than the one I left 10 years ago. I am working for about $20,000 less than my last job. But I am working with like-minded people again; people who want to change the world; people who know how to shift public policy; people who appreciate the skills and talents I have. I am not sure that I will stay long-term. I am not sure that there is room for me to express my full potential in this job, but it is a good place for now. A place to rebuild my confidence; a place to repair my reputation; a place to recuperate from my betrayal. I am feeling appreciated once more. I am feeling like I am part of a team again. And there are sometimes in life when that means a lot more than money or title.