Part 6 – 13 Months of Unemployment almost Broke Me; 10 Life Lessons to Share; We’re not the Rich

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Unemployed CanadaMy husband’s 13 months of jobs loss almost broke me.

The stakes are high when you have a family and a Vancouver-sized mortgage that is still much too close to half a million dollars after 8 years of home ownership.

Try that on if you live in Regina or Halifax.

It has been an interesting time to be unemployed – through an election that saw Trudeau label Canadians making over $100,000/year as “the rich” with nobody earning over $90,000 qualifying for the new middle class tax cut. It was perplexing to be labelled that way even before my husband was laid off from his management position at Big Blue.

We don’t own a mansion, just a regular house in the suburbs. We don’t have new cars – both are over 10 years old, coming up on 200,000 km. We went on 1 tropical vacation in the past 5 years mostly using “points”. We live paycheque to paycheque just like everybody else. We have nice things but we shop on Craigslist for deals and are always looking for cheap or free things to do and sales when we have something to buy. We don’t have any nannies – unlike the Trudeaus –  in fact we can barely even afford a babysitter to come for date night once a month. We have a good life, we are very fortunate for what we have but we’re not rich.

Everything to do with paying that mortgage and the bills becomes nerve wracking when the primary earner in your household is unemployed for over a year. It’s stressful even with a severance package.

The emotional and financial aspects of my husband’s job loss has been really difficult especially during the past 4-5 months. I spent a lot of time and sleepless nights worried about all kinds of “what if’s”. What if we run out of money? What if we run up so much debt that we’ll never get out of it? What if he never gets a job or if we can’t afford our mortgage with the new job? When should we put the house on the market, rent a condo and just start over?

I had some really hard days where I could barely make myself get out of bed in the morning. I want anyone else out there who is going through job loss – whether it is you, or your partner – to know that you will have these hard days, and you will make it through.

I had to dig really deep and remember the strength that I have, the person I am today and all the things I have learned over the years about coping and overcoming obstacles to help me  get through this period:

I am the girl who was bullied in high school and survived it primarily through my own determination and refusal to believe that life wasn’t going to get better than that. 

Life Lesson #1: In your worst moments, remember that life will always get better, in time.

I had a dark period, years even, where an eating disorder consumed my life. I pulled myself out of that with some really good counselling and by making some positive changes to my life.

Life Lesson #2: There are times when you need to talk to someone – whether a family member, a friend or a professional.

Life Lesson #3: Taking action is necessary to change the trajectory you are on.

My husband and I struggled through two years of infertility and dealt with all the emotional fallout and stress of that before I finally became pregnant through in vitro and gave birth to our son.

Life Lesson #4: Reach out to your partner (or to a friend) because two people facing a problem is better than one. Getting a  second and third opinion is always a good idea.

Life Lesson #5: Always have faith. Never give up on something that is important to you.

When our premie was born and placed in neonatal intensive care on a ventilator, we pulled together as a couple  to care for him, deal with the medical professionals and issues, and finally bring him home after almost 3 months in the hospital. Because of the complications of my pregnancy, it was a time for me to heal physically and let my husband take charge more than I normally would do.

Life Lesson #6: Trust yourselves as a couple and know that sometimes one person in the relationship will do more of the heavy lifting – that’s okay.

Life Lesson #7: Challenge the opinions of the “professionals” because you know yourself and/or your child best.

Life Lesson #8: In a crisis you will need to swallow your pride and ask for help from family or friends.

In these last months of job loss, I remembered who I am and the life lessons I have to draw on. I began purposefully looking around me and being grateful for all that I have, for all the blessings in my life. I let go of the way our life used to be and reached out to my family and close friends for support. My husband and I decided to start acting like we may need to sell the house this year and started fixing it up. I seriously braced myself for a move to another city if that’s what it takes to get our life back on track. I signed up for my first seminar as a Mompreneur with the intention of growing my freelance business into something more substantial.

Life Lesson #9: Be grateful for the blessings in your life, especially during the tough times.

Life Lesson #10: It’s inevitable that at the exact moment you let go of fear and embrace change is when a breakthrough happens.

It’s not an end to our uncertain situation, but my husband started a 3 month contract this week. The journey continues.

Part 1 – Job Loss
Part 2 – Sharing the News
Part 3 – Sweating the Small Stuff in Job Loss
Part 4 – Should we Stay in Metro Vancouver or Should we Go?
Part 5 – Our Canadian Family’s Journey Through Unemployment in 2015

Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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2 thoughts on “Part 6 – 13 Months of Unemployment almost Broke Me; 10 Life Lessons to Share; We’re not the Rich

  1. Ugh. We were so lucky that my husband managed to find consulting work while he figured out what to do next. We were also lucky that we rent and don’t own. I can’t imagine THAT rollercoaster. And yes 100k should not be considered rich. Even us at around 85K do not qualify for so much and try raising THREE kids on that in Vancouver…not cool. Salaries need to go up and governments need to understand the true cost of living in today’s economy. Hence all the extra work my hubs does and my 5 days a week work now just to keep up. As they say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ right 🙂

    1. Thanks Kerry. I definitely agree that salaries need to go up and living in the Vancouver is so hard for families, job loss or not. What doesn’t kill you makes you so so strong lol!

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