On the first night you don't sleep.
No matter how much warning you have been given, no matter how prepared you think you are, no amount of drugs or alcohol will induce sleep.
After the initial shock the gamut of feelings presents a roller coaster more terrifying than any theme park could imagine. At times they will run on a 15 minute cycle.
Anger is not the worst, for anger is perfectly natural.
Nor is the feeling of violation, for that is not just a feeling. You have been violated. There is a pretty good chance that you are carrying the can for somebody else's incompetence: the manager that couldn't be bothered to train you; the directors too busy playing politics and protecting their own hides to pay attention to their businesses - in fact all of those who have forgotten that the buck should be passed up the line, not down it.. You still feel like you've been mugged in one of the seedier parts of town, but that's life. It is understandable.
What hurts is the powerlessness. You know, inside, that there is nothing that you can do. It is a very strange feeling that contains bitterness, frustration, bewilderment and contempt for authority. There is nowhere to go and nothing that can be done.
The road back is a very personal journey. It cannot be prescribed, but here are some things that I have found.
First, deal with the powerlessness. Ride the bewilderment and frustration, for they will pass as you realise that the nagging 'Why Me?' question is answered by 'for no good reason' That realisation gives an unexpected sense of relief. The key is to avoid letting the bitterness and contempt consume you. Remember this: Those that you have met on the way up, you will in all probability meet on the way down. Hang onto this - but don't waste energy plotting.
Then you must recognise your own worth. You will be surprised how many contacts you have and how many of those give a damn. You will be even more surprised that you have previously unsuspected skills.
Working your contacts is more productive than a thousand sessions with a consultant. It opens options up, rather than narrows them down. A friend saying 'Have you ever consider this' is more useful than some highly trained idiot saying 'I think you'd better get retrained'.
So don't take the first opportunity that is offered to you. You will discover that spinning out the pennies, although infuriating, is possible. And there are always people who need a gap plugged, so make sure that your face is known and do not be afraid to try different options. You may discover your missed vocation.
When things are finally sorted out - and they will be as long as you keep sight of who and what you are - you will get some real surprises.
Perhaps friends will tell you that they not only like you, but admire you for what you have done in the face of intense pressure. Perhaps they will say that despite knowing you for many years, they have learnt something about you that they didn't already know.
Of course, there will be blue days, weeks even, when nobody is in and calls aren't returned. These are strength sapping days and there is a very real risk that relationships, no matter how strong they seem, will be torn to shreds.
Never be afraid to reach out to those who care.
That is something you would regret much more than any professional choice.
© 1998-2010 Ian Cundell
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