Yesterday morning, at about 10:30 AM, I was breastfeeding Baby F2 while watching a Vietnamese drama.
Basically, I was enjoying life and killing time with a baby attached to me pretty much most of the day.
Suddenly, I got a message from Mr. FAF on Google Hangout:
Mr. FAF: I just met with my boss.
Me (Thinking it was just another weekly check-in): Ok. What did he say?
Mr. FAF: I need to find a new team. He said I’m not a good fit for the current team.
Me: Are you ok? Do you want to talk on the phone?
Mr. FAF: No. I’m ok.
I could hardly believe what I just saw. I was in denial for a few seconds.
Then reality started to sink in. I felt like I had just been struck by lightening.
Suddenly, I just couldn’t think straight anymore.
I felt like I was lost, disoriented, and scared.
It was actually a feeling I had experienced years ago when I finally decided to leave a doctoral program.
I felt like a lost soul, not knowing what would happen to me and my life. Then, I tried to gather all the coolness I had left and messaged back:
Me: It’s ok. Just find a new team like your colleague did. People change teams all the time. Don’t worry too much. Just stay focused and start looking for a new position.
Mr. FAF: I am. I’m ok.
Mr. FAF didn’t say much. He didn’t freak out like what I had expected. Maybe he tried to stay calm to not freak me out. Maybe he saw that coming like what he had been telling me all along.
Either way, I felt like my own boss had just sat me down and told me I was being laid off. I tried to console Mr. FAF:
Me: It’s ok. I still have a job (which I didn’t even know I would be able to keep after returning to work post maternity leave).
Mr. FAF: He said he wasn’t firing me. But I need to join a new team.
We ended the conversation on that note so that Mr. FAF could return to work. After that moment, I just couldn’t concentrate on anything else.
In my mind was a furry of uncertainty, fear, guilt, and confusion.
I was uncertain if Mr. FAF could find a new team. I was scared because we just had a baby, and him not having a job would put a huge financial strain on our budget.
I felt guilty for buying all those baby products on Amazon. I should just saved the money for an emergency like this. And I was confused as to what I could do to help.
I’m on maternity leave and have taken over most of the housework so that he could focus on his work. Maybe I should try to be more supportive of him.
In a nutshell, I felt like Mr. FAF was getting fired, and that I was also getting laid off although that wasn’t the case.
The day went by without either of us bringing up that topic again. I didn’t want to distract Mr. FAF from his work. Mr. FAF probably didn’t want to worry me or was dealing with his own internal turmoil.
Later that day, when Mr. FAF got home, he came into the kitchen where I was preparing dinner and told me he felt really depressed. Then to console himself and me, he said, “But it’s ok. I knew it was going to happen.”
I told Mr. FAF that it reminded me of the time when I was dropping out of the doctoral program. But I felt so much happier after I felt and never looked back.
Mr. FAF then told me he had talked to a colleague who had left the team. His colleague still works at the same company but now likes his new team and feels so much happier than before. He has never regretted leaving that team.
To be fair, the team is great. Mr. FAF said he just didn’t feel like he fit in, and the work was not easy either.
Before we went to bed, Mr. FAF told me that his self-confidence was at an all-time low. I tried to cheer up him, saying that it’s just a challenge in life all of us have to face at one point.
And then Mr. FAF started apologizing to me:
Mr. FAF: I’m sorry.
Me: For what? (I kinda knew he was apologizing for disappointing me and probably for feeling inadequate as a husband and a dad – aka the breadwinner of the family).
Mr. FAF: For everything. I am a loser.
Deep down, I felt bad for him. I knew what he was going through. I could guess how he felt. He felt that he was letting our kids and me down.
Disappointing the ones that you love is probably one of the most guilt-ridden and demoralizing self-inflicted feelings one can have.
And when those loved ones are little human beings (our kids) who depend on you both financially and emotionally, that feeling is even more exacerbated.
I just told him everything would be ok. That night, Mr. FAF revised his resume and reached out to the recruiters who had contacted him for interviews. He’s preparing for the next chapter in his life and in our lives.
Related: Our Plan To Move Out Of DC
A sense of security
Mr. FAF told me that one good thing in our plan so far is that we’re almost paying off the mortgage.
In fact, we are scheduled to pay off the loan from the bank by the end of this year 2018. But we also have some loans from our family that would take us at least 6-7 more months to pay off.
If Mr. FAF gets laid off, at least we can delay paying the loan to our family and won’t have the bank foreclose on our house. And we will be able to live on my income until he can secure another job.
I’m also glad that we didn’t have the down payment for the $600,000 house we saw a while back. If we had bought it, we would be under so much stress just to pay the monthly mortgage payment while fearing a loss of income.
Related: That Time We Wished We Had $150,000
We agreed that we wouldn’t tell our parents about the news since it would just make them worried. I know our situation is not that bad. Maybe we’re just overreacting.
But the fear is real. And layoffs can happen anytime.
It’s a bit scary to me to think that our happiness, confidence, and sense of security depend on someone else’s decision.
Being told that we are not good enough or not a good fit for something feels like a rejection and a confirmation of all the self-doubt and self-deprecating thoughts we have about ourselves.
Mr. FAF has been coming home looking depressed and telling me he likes like a loser for the past few months. Now he got a final push from his boss to look for a new team and possibly a new job.
Mr. FAF has a couple of interviews lined up. And his father is here to help out with our baby and housework so that he can focus on preparing for those interviews.
I thought we were secure with two full-time jobs, but our future continues to be uncertain…