The Last Year of My Life

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of a monumental life change for me, and I’m feeling like I need to tell you about it. Maybe to finally purge it, a sort of mental spring cleaning – or maybe to just organize it better in my head.

A year ago yesterday, I woke up in a job that I loved – a job that I created, in a program that I created. I had dedicated the last three years of my life to it. Looking back, I often neglected my girlfriend, friends, family, and self in order to ensure success for the program. I worked every day. For three years.

I had just had one of the best weekends of the three years in that job. We had just launched a huge new project, one of risk and reward – faced with doubt and skepticism, my team and I forged on and got the job done. We launched that new project with great fanfare. City Councilmembers cutting the ribbon. Front page of the paper. I don’t think I’d ever felt greater pride.

A year ago yesterday I walked into my boss’s office and she fired me. The reasons given didn’t (and don’t) make sense – but they don’t matter anymore, so I won’t get into that.

As I look back at the last year, I see the stages of grief very clearly.

At first, ego took over and let arrogance get me through by denying that I had any feelings about it. My denial was internal. I pretended to be blase about it, to accept it. To shrug it off and move on. Inside, I was a wreck. On the inside I was confused and didn’t know how to talk about it.

Along with this denial, the anger seethed underneath, like a pot of water just about to boil, shimmering and threatening to surface. I took this out on people by being short with them or ignoring them even when they reached out to help.

Slowly I became depressed. I didn’t know I was depressed because I’d never felt that before – it was something completely new to me. Learning how to be depressed was something I chose to do alone, which is probably the worst way to deal with it, and likely prolonged it for months. I became insular and guarded. I didn’t want to connect with anyone for fear that they’d see my vulnerability, which I still perceived, from my Man Box, as weakness.

Finally, slowly, and thanks to a community of people who supported me, and my amazing family, acceptance started to manifest itself. Too many people are a part of that to name any one of them – but if you ever said a nice thing, gave me a hug, or even took a minute to chat, please know that those small acts helped me as much as any support I got from anyone.

Today, while not yet fully recovered financially, I can say without a doubt that my heart has recovered. My heart is longing for the next big thing again. My mind is plotting a course for the future that will see me taking risks again – because taking risks is the only way to make good things happen. There’s an old cliche I believe to be true that says you can tell more about a person by how they respond to failure than by how they respond to success. I strive to learn and grow and take risks that might lead to failure so that I can learn and grow and risk again and again until I can’t or I die.

Thank you all.

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