#JUNKFREEINJUNE Over 50 & Thriving Series

How an unexpected job loss proved to be a Godsend

June 12, 2019
unexpected job loss

An important area of #JunkFreeInJune is about finding clarity around the direction we want to head in life. My BBB (Best Blogging Buddy), Leanne Le Cras from Cresting the Hill has recently been through a significant change in her life. She has been brave enough to leave a job that had a toxic working environment and is now slowing taking time to find out what she really wants. Although she loved her job, Leanne reveals how an unexpected job loss proved to be a Godsend.

I’m delighted that she is my guest for this week’s Over 50 & Thriving Series. Leanne shares how she is clearing the ‘junk’ from her mind and rediscovering herself. Don’t forget to pop over to Leanne’s blog to say ‘hello’ I’m sure she would love to hear from you.

How an unexpected job loss proved to be a Godsend

The perfect job

A few years ago I thought I’d finally been offered the “Perfect Job” – great hours, great pay, great workplace, the perfect fit for me in Midlife. The only problem was that the old saying “if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true” proved to be an “old saying” for a reason. I was told by another receptionist (after I started my job) that my employer paid well because they couldn’t keep staff. I scoffed at that initially and took it as jealousy on her part …..but ohhhh how right she was! The reason they couldn’t keep staff was because the lovely manager who employed me wasn’t as lovely as she appeared on the surface.

This woman was constantly in a mental and/or emotional crisis and poured it all out with no respect to any boundaries, every time I went to work. Actually, that’s not completely true – sometimes she was pleasant and fine – but those days tricked me into thinking she’d changed, and the bad stuff was behind her…. Then that bad stuff would return and my work-life kept swinging from high to low, with me never knowing what I’d be in for each week. It reached the point where I’d dread going in on Mondays, my chest would get tight as I turned the corner into work, and by the end of the day I’d have a migraine to take home with me. It was NOT the Perfect Job and I knew it couldn’t continue.

When you’ve sold your soul

It dawned on me that somewhere along the way I’d sold my soul to the god of money – that great hourly rate was what drove me to put up with the tears, tantrums, repetitive stories, outbursts, and other horrific behaviour that this woman thought was okay to share with me. I look back now and can’t believe some of the stuff that happened. A lot of it’s beyond belief and sharing it would be a breach of her privacy. In a nutshell, it made working there a living hell at times.

Long story short, one day her anger turned itself on me and something in me just snapped. It was the final straw and I handed in my resignation on the spot. Despite her request to reconsider, I worked out my 2 weeks’ notice and left that part of my life behind. It was a sudden (but not totally un-expected) ending to a job I’d hoped would see me through to retirement in my mid 60’s. I was left shattered and at a loss as to what to do next.

Getting my Mojo Back

I realized that I’d lost so much of myself over those last few years. My life had been reduced to going to work, recovering from work, enjoying two days of freedom, and then returning to repeat the cycle. The day I walked out of the office for the last time was the beginning of a whole new and unexpected phase of life. It took me several weeks to wind down, to stop thinking about whether I could have done it differently, and to realize that leaving was the best decision I could have made for my mental and emotional health.

My next thought was “What am I going to do with all this extra spare time?” Fortunately, I only worked part-time, so I didn’t have a whole week to fill, but I worried that I’d be sitting around being bored and watching daytime TV to fill in the days. The surprising thing was that this hasn’t happened. It’s been 4 months since I left that toxic workplace behind and every day has been a joy. I’m never bored, I’m never at a loss with filling my time, the days go by at a lovely relaxing pace and I’m happy – I actually can’t believe how happy I am these days. I even find it hard to remember how horrible things were previously now that I’ve recovered from it.

What’s Next?

I’ve blogged about a lot of this journey towards possible retirement. I’ve asked “What’s Next?”, wondered if it’s okay to stop working while I’m still in my 50’s, and written about all the questions that have churned in my head since this unexpected turn of events. I’m so used to having a plan for every eventuality and this is such a change of pace for me. Previously I’d have been looking around for a new job, reading the Job Vacancies, cold calling, or sending out emails to potential employers. This time I’m not doing any of that. I’m just taking time for myself. For the first time in 40 years I’ve stopped “doing” and I’m focusing on “being” instead – and it’s delightful!

In the process of coming to grips with this upheaval, I’ve read a lot of other blog posts about acceptance, letting go, and moving on. I particularly love Marc and Angel Hack Life because their inspirational thoughts and posts speak directly to my heart at the moment. They look at life changes so positively and I share their quotes on my Facebook Page regularly (I counted at least 7 of them since I left work!) A particular favourite is this one:

How an unexpected job loss proved to be a Godsend

What I’ve discovered

I think the biggest take away I have from this journey so far is that it’s not okay to stay somewhere that’s toxic just because it’s what you think you “should” do. When it comes down to it, what you “should” do is look after yourself. Don’t let hitting rock bottom be your motivation for moving on because the recovery takes so much longer when you’re sucked dry and feel like a husk. Instead, be proactive, trust yourself and what your soul is trying to tell you, step up, make the change you know is needed, and prepare yourself for a new chapter.

I was offered the opportunity to withdraw my resignation twice – I very nearly stayed and played safe (better the devil you know) but in hindsight it would have been an appallingly bad decision to have stayed in that awful environment. Having the courage to leave and to not let money dictate to me was so liberating. Opening my eyes to the fact that I can live life on my own terms – not on what our materialistic world tells me – was a big step forward. All I can say is that so far I’m loving this new life choice. Maybe one day I’ll look for another job, or add some more volunteering, or study something, or who knows what? But for now I’m just happy to “be” and you can’t ask for more than that can you?

job loss

Meet Leanne

How an unexpected job loss proved to be a Godsend

Leanne lives in the beautiful SW of Western Australia. She has two adult children who have grown and flown, married, and settled in the city. Her empty nest consolation prize is two delightful grandgirls to keep her young and on her toes. Other than that, she spends way too much of her spare time blogging about the highlights of Midlife at Cresting the Hill and shares the rest of her leisure time with her husband and two cats.

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31 Comments

  • Reply Molly Stevens June 12, 2019 at 18:35

    What a difficult situation and I empathize with how hard it was to decide to leave. I’ve worked in unhealthy situations too long for ‘security’ and out of loyalty, hoping things would change. But an unstable, abusive boss is a deal breaker and makes the best job in the world a living nightmare. So glad you are decompressing, Leanne, and finding the joy in your freedom. I like how you are staying open to what comes, but mostly you need some recovery from the ordeal you’ve been through. Blessings!

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 13, 2019 at 11:14

      Thanks so much for your kind words Molly – and yes you’re right about staying out of security and loyalty. But I think we all reach a point in life where we realize we’re better than what we’re putting up with – and the sheer relief of walking away and the process of getting my mojo back is what it’s been about for me now x

  • Reply Debbie Harris June 12, 2019 at 19:27

    Such a lovely, honest post Leanne. I feel for you and what you’ve been through. I can hear the lightness in your words these days and I’m so happy for you. A great post to share thanks Sue!

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 13, 2019 at 11:15

      Thanks Deb – it’s amazing how we hold on to something so desperately and then realize afterwards that we should have let it go and moved on long ago! It’s never too late though x

  • Reply Nancy Dobbins June 12, 2019 at 22:05

    Hi Leanne,
    I’ve been reading your posts right along about this big transition in your life…I’m so glad to read more here at Sue’s blog. Getting oneself out of a toxic environment or relationships – a job in your case – is an important way to take care of ourselves. It is indeed “Getting rid of JUNK!” I’ve heard how your blogging voice has changed over these past few months…Debbie is right about hearing the lightness in your words these days. It is clear that you did the right thing for you, and as your recent blog post confirms you have found contentment in this new journey. Loved your article.
    Thanks again, Sue, for highlighting interesting and inspirational women.

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 13, 2019 at 11:17

      I’m so glad that you can “hear” the difference Nancy – I’ve tried really hard to not be vindictive (for want of a better word) or nasty about what that woman did to my head – leaving it all behind was the beginning of getting “Me” back and I’m loving this time of peace and recovery. Who knows what the future holds? For now it’s enough just to live and enjoy each day of freedom 🙂

  • Reply Erica/Erika June 12, 2019 at 22:45

    Hi Leanne, Thank you for a candid, heartfelt post. I am sure many readers can relate to being part of a toxic work environment. Great pay and benefits may be a lure, although not at the cost of your spirit. Interesting on how this was the Manager. Where was the boss?!

    Moving on🙂I have been following Marc and Angel Hack Life for many years. Another thing we have in common:). I have their books on my bedside and their quotes on my desktop.

    I am glad you are removing the shoulds. You teach me to be aware of how I fall into that trap at times. Thank you for sharing a relatable article. I look forward to reading more of your journey🙂 Erica

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 13, 2019 at 11:20

      Hi Erica – the manager was the boss’s wife (really messy dynamic – and it was their marriage upheavals that contributed to a lot of what she was pouring onto me) Completely unprofessional and so hard to be enmeshed in! Marc and Angel manage to put a positive vibe into a lot of my thoughts – life can suck, but you learn from it, grow, look for new directions, and embrace change – all stuff I really want to embrace as I get past the last few years. I love our commonalities BTW xx

  • Reply cynthia@secondmojo.com June 13, 2019 at 04:11

    Leanne,
    You made a great decision. I endured that sort of toxicity in various shapes and forms throughout my long career and STILL kick myself for it now. There is not a day that passes that I’m not grateful for having closed the door on that and made room for what was to come my way! Enjoy your new peace and freedom and I know that with your openness and great energy something perfect with come to you. Cynthia

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 13, 2019 at 11:22

      I’m amazed at how many amazing, talented, capable Midlife women have shared that they’ve had similar experiences at work and had to walk away from a job they loved because of a toxic workmate. It doesn’t reflect well on the workplace environment and what is allowed to take place there, but it does speak to our strength that we can choose to leave and start again (often more than once) because we choose self-respect over self-abasement. And fingers crossed for that “something perfect” to come my way!

  • Reply Terri Webster Schrandt June 13, 2019 at 04:50

    Leanne, I am so happy for you that you made this difficult decision. I’ve read some posts on your blog about your leaving the job but didn’t know then the circumstances for doing so. Leaving a toxic environment is an absolute must, especially as we age. I had a similar situation when I retired from full-time work with the City of Sacramento after 32 years, at age 55 and I was quite scared. Knowing I would continue my separate part-time teaching job at the university made my heart and soul glad and it was the only way I could retire. Yes, I traded this newer part-time endeavor to 15 units a year, putting me at almost full-time work, but to me, this is NOT work. I am happy to teach college students the ups and downs of a recreation/leisure career. You sound like you have things figured out and have more time to do what you love. Who knows, you may find another part-time vocation or hobby that will feed your soul! Thanks, Sue, for featuring Leanne today! I’ve been a little absent from blogging as I am recovering from foot surgery!

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 13, 2019 at 11:25

      Hi Terri – hope the foot is healing well and you can be back in the water soon. I’ve tried to be a bit careful about what I say on the blog – fairly general (just in case!) but thought I could share a little more openly here. It’s so sad that someone else’s pain can make them a nightmare to work with. This woman had a lot of good qualities, but just couldn’t sustain them and the bad stuff just overflowed all over the place. I’m hoping that my work/volunteer life isn’t over just yet, I have hopes for something I love to come along – but I’m also very open to not working again. If something comes along I’ll be looking at it VERY carefully before jumping in!

  • Reply suzanne June 13, 2019 at 06:18

    Leanne, it takes a lot of courage to admit to yourself that you are the victim in a toxic relationship, no matter what the situation or who the offending party might be; family member, friend, coworker, boss or even spouse. Why women, myself included, choose to surrender, stay for the sake of the offender, hope things will get better, etc. is a mystery not easily solved. When I read your post about Contentment the other day, I knew you had reached the point of RESOLVE that comes after a hard choice. You chose YOU, and that is exactly the way it should be. Sue, thanks for hosting this lovely lady and her remarkable story. You two are definitely the dynamic duo!

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 13, 2019 at 11:28

      Hi Suzanne – you summed it up perfectly – that dilemma of knowing you’re being “abused” for want of a better word and yet choosing to stay in the hope that you can fix them, or support them, or that things will magically improve. I’ve learned a lot about boundaries and courage through this – and not selling myself short. Hopefully those lessons will continue to stand me in good stead as I look to whatever’s next – and yes, Resolve is a great choice of word for where I’m finally at right now. And Sue is truly amazing – I’m lucky to have met her x

  • Reply Joanne Tracey June 13, 2019 at 08:18

    The job I had before this one was like that. It’s the first job I’ve ever resigned from and when I did the GM offered me double and then more again to stay for longer. I got lucky in that I had the one I have now to go to, but that previous role would have literally ended up killing me. The stress was something I’d never before experienced – and I’ve had some stressful jobs in the past. I took a pay cut to go where I am now & it was worth it.

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 13, 2019 at 11:30

      Jo it’s funny how being paid well can influence our decisions. If I’d been getting crappy money then I’d have walked away a lot sooner and a lot more easily. The soul selling was definitely a factor. Like you, I’ve realized that it’s not all about the money and there is so much more to what defines a great job. If I go back to anything in the workforce, it will be because it speaks to my heart and not my wallet!

  • Reply Sue Loncaric June 13, 2019 at 08:47

    Thank you BBB for being my guest and sharing your personal story. It appears many of us have been in a similar situation which resulted in having to leave a job that perhaps we enjoyed except for the toxic relationships. You will definitely find yourself again and are wise to be just enjoying the moment. xx

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 13, 2019 at 11:12

    Thanks for having me guest post for you again Sue – I love the support and encouragement you’ve offered me before, during, and after this unexpected life upheaval! Onward and upward my friend!! xx

  • Reply Theresa Muth June 13, 2019 at 11:50

    Oh my gosh, Leanne, I’ve been there! That dread you feel on Sunday evening when you think about going back to work is something I knew all too well
    The good thing with sticking it out so long is that you absolutely know you’ve made the right decision. No going back!
    It’s good to hear you’re happy and discovering things you want to do. Bravo! Loved this piece you wrote!

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 17, 2019 at 17:36

      Oh Theresa – when I look back at those Sunday afternoons and evenings I despair at the waste of time and energy that I went through bracing myself for Monday morning. I’m SO happy to have moved on from it and when I look back, it’s with relief and not regret – so I was definitely ready to leave.

  • Reply Denyse Whelan June 13, 2019 at 19:20

    Oh good one Leanne. To be unhappy at work and from another’s moods etc is not on. So unprofessional too.

    Having watched the updates about this very brave move of yours and now seeing how well you are as a result, you sure did the best thing for you!

    Well-done Denyse

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 17, 2019 at 17:38

      Thanks so much Denyse, I know I’ve gone on about it a bit over the last few months as I’ve processed the change, but when an unexpected upheaval happens, we deal with it in our own way don’t we? I really appreciate the support I’ve had from other bloggers and my friends and family IRL because that’s what’s the most important thing in the end.

      • Reply Denyse Whelan June 19, 2019 at 19:13

        It is good to share. I hope that it’s helped too.

        Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week we are HALF-way in our #ltw prompts for 2019 and this one is Share Your Snaps. Hope to see you there! Denyse.

  • Reply Candi Randolph June 13, 2019 at 20:02

    I’m so happy for you, Leanne, that you chose you and your health (mental, physical and spiritual) over a toxic work environment. You sound so happy now, and are enjoying every day. I hope your experience is an inspiration to anyone else who is in the midst of an unhealthy job or relationship. That first step of saying “no more” can be the hardest.

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 17, 2019 at 17:39

      I think I held on for too long Candi, but at the same time, by exhausting every avenue to fix the situation I know I had no other choice – and I certainly have no regrets. I truly hope sharing the journey helps others in a similar situation x

  • Reply Min @ Write of the Middle June 14, 2019 at 10:06

    Your story is so very similar to mine Leanne. I was working in a toxic work environment too. Different circumstances but still living with daily toxic environment and years of chronic stress because I put up with it. I’m so glad you’ve left and also that you’re feeling free and happy. You did the right thing and you deserve to be happy! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 17, 2019 at 17:41

      I think you put up with it for longer than I did Min and it certainly impacted you long term. I don’t know why we allow ourselves to keep pushing through, but I think it’s part of our generation who just suck it up and hope for the best. I’ve learned a lot about self-worth and not settling from this and I know I’ve become stronger in the process.

  • Reply Kirsty Russell June 17, 2019 at 11:35

    I’m so glad you took the chance and have been able to reclaim you again. I left paid employment five years ago, this coming September. I was 39. I loved my job but it didn’t love me and was taking a toll on my mental and physical health. While I was scared when I first walked away, I’ve carved a life and career for myself independent of the workplace and I’ve never been more happy or fulfilled. I don’t expect to ever go back to ‘work’ and I’m more than okay with that. Good luck with the boundless possibilities in front of you!

    • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au June 17, 2019 at 17:42

      Thanks so much Kirsty – I love it when I read stories like this from other people who have had the courage to walk away and have found better things at the end of the process. That’s my hope – that a year from now, I’ll look back and smile at how well I’ve done through the messiness of moving forward.

  • Reply Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid June 17, 2019 at 19:10

    This really resonates with me. I started off in a job that I loved but then our company was taken over and we got a new boss and it all went pear shaped. Internally I debated whether to stay because I loved the money and my friends but in the end, it was just too toxic. I was terrified of leaving without having a job to go to but someone told me “jump and the net will appear.” Those words were so wise… And so true! Since then I’ve had as much work as I’ve wanted at a variety of workplaces with the freedom to pick and choose. And just like you, I never get bored! Life is too short to do something that makes you that unhappy!

  • Reply Deborah June 18, 2019 at 09:38

    I’ve had experiences like that and hate that people don’t sometimes stop and look for the root of the problem – if people keep leaving… why?

    I think making a decision to leave a toxic situation (or one that isn’t serving you but destroying you) is one of the most cathartic things there is!

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