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Am I Being Termed?

Written By: Lauren Howard

Am I being termed?

I think that was the last thing I asked before my phone rang hours before we were scheduled to talk and they let me know that they had accepted my resignation. 

Had I resigned? 

To this day, I don’t really know. I think I did. They said I did. It didn’t feel like I did, but I was still being off-boarded so . . . there’s that. 

In my combined fear and trauma response, I tried to unquit. I said this wasn’t what I wanted. 

Didn’t matter. They held me to it. 

I crumbled to the floor in a ball of tears as my Slack screen told me I no longer had access and I started getting fetch errors in my email box. 

I was unemployed. 

By . . . choice? I think? Definitely by an impulsive “I can’t do this anymore” outburst to the right or wrong person, depending on how you look at it. 

That didn’t stop the tears or the terror or the crushing anxiety that told me I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. 

That was three years ago. 

What I now hail as my Independence Day. 

The day that I finally did the thing that would change my life forever, whether I meant to or not. The day that shattered me so I could get started putting it all back together.

I am so grateful for the scared, sad, broken, anxious version of me that finally blurted out the thing that had been simmering for years. 

I spent years believing that it couldn’t get better than this. That this toxic, opaque workplace had to be the best that I could find because they were tolerating me as much as I was tolerating them. That I was lucky to have a job because who else would ever want to hire me anyway? 

It was the day that brought me here to meet all of you and to start sharing the pieces that I was rebuilding because I didn’t know what else to do. 

It was the day that pushed me to understand that isolation lies, and that I wasn’t all alone even though it felt that way. That there were thousands and thousands of women, maybe more, just keeping all of these awful experiences to ourselves because we were told that talking about them made us ungrateful, un-hire-able, undesirable. 

It broke me into a million pieces so I could put myself back to together little-by-little to the person I am today. 

And I’m not done with that part. I'm still finding pieces, though they’re smaller now, and figuring out where and, really, if they even go anymore. There are lots of pieces that have ended up in the bin when I realized there wasn’t a place for them in this new life. 

That day felt like the end. 

Oh, you sweet summer child. It was just the beginning of so, so much. 

We're still just getting started. 

If you’re in that place, we’re here. All of us. Everyone I’ve picked up along the way. We’re Team Difficult, and we love you even if we’ve never met you. 

It’s kind of our thing. 

Image by Engin Akyurt via Unsplash.


Founder & CEO at elletwo


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