I found myself in a perfect storm at the end of 2014 when dealing with the consequences of redundancy from my job as customer relations manager at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
After 15 years in the role I was actually collateral damage with 102 people – over a third of the existing staff at the time.
It was so close to the announcement of the planned move of the museum to Parramatta to not see the redundancies as connected.
The news came at the same at the same time as my daughter was going into adolescence, and I was going into menopause.
After going through all of the emotions that were triggered by my redundancy, I decided to make use of the ’spare’ time I had on my hands by writing a book about my experience of menopause.
My thinking was that I could put the struggle I’d been having to feel well to good use by writing about the improvements I’d achieved by focusing on the fundamentals of diet, exercise, stress management, and mindset.
The thing I didn’t realise at the time was that I was going to have to build a business around my book to keep the family’s finances afloat. The long and the short of it is that after unsuccessfully applying for over 30 jobs I decided to bite the bullet and save my energy for more fruitful endeavours.
In other words, I did what I needed to do to process the feelings of rejection, loss, and grief that the redundancy triggered, and then got down to the business of rebuilding my life.
One of the unexpected consequences of this was that I underwent a cathartic experienced in the process of writing my story down for the book that became Thrive in Midlife.
This happened when I was listing out the options I had for handling menopause in 2014, compared with the options my moher had when she was in the same position in the early 1980s.
The stark reality of the matter was that in mum’s day synthetic hormones were prescribed without a second thought, and sadly she was one of the women who paid the price in terms of being diagnosed with breast cancer many years after using the hormone replacement therapy of the day.
She was able to buy some extra time with the combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatment, but only enough for her life to intersect with my daughter’s life by one year.
The catharsis I mentioned above came in the form of my heart splitting open (in a good way) when I wrote about mum’s brief relationship with my daughter.
This was a huge deal for me because there were a couple of traumas around the time of my own birth that fundamentally shaped the way I experienced most of my life up until that time.
One of these related to the fact that my mother almost died from a blood clot that travelled to her lung just after giving birth to me, and the other one related to the fact that I was the surviving twin in a case of Vanishing Twin Syndrome.
Making up for lost time
One of the consequences of this is that before I was even born I learnt to shut my feelings down to avoid the pain of abandonment that I felt in the first instance when my twin left me, and then again when my mother was absent in the early weeks of my life because she was teetering on the brink of death herself.
Looking back on all of this now, I regret spending so much of my life in an emotionally numb state, and feel sad about never really bonding with my mother when she was alive.
But more important than any of this is the gratitude I feel around finally making up for lost time in the process of writing my book some 10 years after mum passed away.
So, I guess at the end of the day being made redundant was a blessing in disguise. I love the work I do now which includes running book writing workshops for other people who want to share their personal journeys or their professional expertise. And I still love writing books myself.
My next book Weight Loss in Midlife: How to Get Out of The Diet Trap is due for release in April, and I have another one Mindset for Authors: How to Overcome Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Self-Doubt due out in June.