It happened to me in October 2018. I’d just returned from a fabulous holiday and within an hour of being back in the office I was leaving for the last time. We’d been going through a large restructure and I’d gone for promotion. After a protracted process and a number of interview stages, I didn’t get the role. My job had gone and so was I.

At the time of being told I was surprised at how well I handled it. There was very little emotion and certainly no crying. My voice was strong as I asked about what would happen next. Maybe I was in shock or maybe, in my heart of hearts, I knew it was coming. I got a solicitor and from then on she handled all the paperwork.

The office protocol is not to tell anyone you have gone – you just disappear. I got a few messages asking if I was ok. The rumour mill was in overdrive. But was I ok? Certainly I didn’t miss going into work. Although I had gone for the top job, I was having serious doubts about the company and what it wanted to achieve. However, I felt like a complete failure. Redundant – it is such a horrible word. I worried what people would think. What was I going to do now? How would I get another job?

I have always been ambitious and driven – believing if you did a good job and went above and beyond you’d be ok. How naive! All those extra hours, the great ideas, the desire to develop every team member and grow what we did. I was just a number on a spreadsheet – tossed out without a thanks or good luck for your future.

The last few months have been emotional. I’ve been angry- one of the first stages of the grief curve. I’ve had some really dark days and nights where I’ve been awake at 2, 3, 4 and 5am. The biggest part of accepting what happened was trying to understand why they treated me the way they did. This occupied my thoughts for quite a long time but now I have to admit that I will never understand it. They just didn’t like my ideas- square pegs and round holes – or maybe I just cost too much.

I’ve got to move on for my own sake and those of everyone around me. This is just one event in my life, and from speaking to so many others, it happens to many people, good, hard-working people, who all deserve to be treated so much better. However, I take so many things from my experience. This is my silver-lining. I am happier already. I hated working there – I often felt ill, and towards the end rarely had a good night’s sleep. I probably could have stayed and taken a lower graded job but ultimately I didn’t agree with their vision. I would have been even more unhappy.

On the career front it is tough. I miss the monthly pay cheque and am wondering what to do next. I’ve gained so much great experience in my working life but it is hard translating that to getting an interview. Getting a response from recruiters, even if that is a no, is a great achievement some days. However, I have met and spoken to so many interesting people in my journey to find out what I really want to do. My mind has been opened to so many possibilities, which I believe will equip me better to deal with the changing workplace. I am also clearer about the type of company I want to work for, if that is the route I decide I go down. I’ll also do my due diligence before accepting any position in future. Being flattered the last time caused me to overlook the huge cracks which I knew existed but chose to ignore.

Being made redundant in the way I was is very isolating. I now had much more time on my hands but wasn’t in the mood for meeting anyone – some days it was hard to leave the house and on others, I wasn’t sure I would get through a conversation without crying. However, the biggest upside of being made redundant is that you find out who your friends are. Some people I considered in my close circle I’ve never heard from. However, others were there right when I needed them – giving helpful advice, pick me up texts and encouragement that, in time, it will get better. They’ve never been intrusive but known exactly what to ask. I am lucky to have good friends whom I trust and to now know the difference between them and those who hang on to your coat tails in the good times.

So, is there a happy ending? This has been undoubtedly the worst experience of my working life but I come out of it stronger and knowing more about myself. There will still be days of anger and frustration but I hope now I am getting to a place where I can see the opportunities and grab them with both hands, but wise in the knowledge and certainty of what I actually want. When I was made redundant, I was released from an unhappiness that had become my normal. Who wants to live like that? This is my very happy ending.