Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Going Down with the Ship

I’ll have a lot more time for reading. I’ll have a lot more time for sleeping. I won’t exactly have a lot more room in my closet. But I can now stay out all night long if I feel like it. IF I feel like it. That’s still one big if.

It’s official. I’m out of a job. I’m now unemployed.

It was in the last quarter of last year that things began to get fishy at work. Certain people were pulled aside, with whom something serious was discussed. The next thing we knew, that same day was to be their last day. They were to be retrenched.

Nope, I wasn’t exactly heaving sighs of relief. Now that was an absolutely demoralizing thing, even for the rest of us who were spared. And deep inside, no pep talk from management could stop us from wondering when the next cut would be, and who would be the next victim.

During the following months, people began resigning one after the other, and for one reason or another. But I’m pretty sure the uncertain future of the company was a factor.

Again, it was difficult working through all the turmoil. And it wasn’t hard to notice how the management wasn’t even trying to replace those who were leaving. This wasn’t just about thinking positive. It was about whether or not we were blind… or even stupid. Still, some of us stood strong - I’d like to believe I was one of them - keeping focus on the tasks at hand, carrying on carrying on.

And then it happened. Apparently, before New Year, the owners decided that was it. They would cease operations. The ship was going down.

I found out unofficially in the first week of January, having had to be told only because it was detrimental to how we would be dealing with existing and potential accounts. It’s just really beyond me as to why they didn’t just spell it all out the first working day of January. Must our agony be delayed? Will it make it easier? Not at all.

Some people who did know about the pending fate of the company became so different at the time. They were less personable, more uncomfortable, not even being able to look into our eyes. Some made themselves less conspicuous in the office, transferring almost altogether to the other side, the sister company. It was funny, it felt like the captain and his staff abandoned ship, but sadly, leaving some of us behind and in the dark, and taking all the lifeboats along with them.

Finally, the second Monday of January, they made the announcement. It was a brief pep talk, but really, not brief enough. At that point, all I really needed to hear was “We’re closing by so-and-so, and we will need everyone to so-and-so before that.”

Slowly, things became clearer. It was our department, the Creatives, which housed the accounts, writers and designers, that was really getting the brunt. And tenure with the company apparently made you even more of a target. Hmm.

I hate that I understand a bit of the business, admin and human resource side of things. That it’s not that easy to close a company. That it’s odd for people being retrenched to be asked to resign. That thirty-days-notice is an absolute number, either it is or it isn’t. That all this could’ve been handled in a better way.

So for the weeks that followed, we were counting down the days. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t demoralizing for me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel any negativity. I did, I did. But I hope I kept those feelings to myself successfully. As proudly and professionally as I believe anyone could ever manage to, we trudged along, keeping up the level of service to our clients, all while watching the end of an era approach.

And by Friday, the 28th of January, after one last client meeting, we headed back to the office and three of us colleagues, three of us friends, began cleaning out our drawers. No sadness, really. We knew we did our jobs. In fact, that evening, we had a little reunion, where 10 people, who had at one time or another become colleagues at the company, got together again to catch up, this latest milestone as stimulus. A great night of chatting and drinking in the cool breeze and under the night sky.

It was not a bad year-and-a-half to sum up. It was an opportunity that came, enticing enough to draw me away from a previous job I was in for a good five years. It was an almost alien field to start with, and people from whom I learned a lot.

It was the first place where I really saw how one's HIV-status need not be detrimental to one's career. It was an unusual environment, where I may have unexpectedly just met the best straight guy friend I’ll ever have... nope, no sexual tension at all, just a lot of respect regardless of my seemingly differing sexual orientation and HIV-status, all of which he accepted, and despite which, we clicked and made a great team at that.

So for now, with this turn of events, is it an unknown future for me? Not exactly. Uncertain, maybe, but not bleak at all. It’s not like I’m going to go hungry in a day or two. Fortunately, I’m not the type to live a hand-to-mouth existence. I guess my biggest worry, once again, would be the potentially huge change. I still hate change. But then, as long as it’s something I can even try to handle, as much as I tried with this HIV thing, then bring it on.

For now, I’m just hoping I spare my mom of any worries. I actually just told her the story of what happened yesterday. A bit late, I know, but as usual, I was just handling things by myself as much as I could.

I did keep the hubby in the loop the whole while, and he’s been very supportive, and an ear to rant to, but I still hate how he promises he’d take care of me, no matter what, because he loves me. Sorry, I’m too proud to take any glimmer of charity just like that. But I love the guy and confess that I was touched when he said that. Gah. Cheesy.

Oh, well. I guess, it was all fate. It was written in the cards. Just like the HIV-positive chapter of my life.

If at least, this has kept me on my toes. If at least, it has become a time for me to evaluate exactly what I am capable of doing, what I want to do, and what is available. If at least, it has brought the realization that I’m actually quite fortunate to have options. If at least, this has reminded me how friends should hang in there for each other through thick and thin. If at least, this has taught me to take all the Feng Shui hullabaloo with a grain of salt... quit relying on burning and incense, and just do your job, will you. If at least, this has shown me that going down with the ship ain’t nothing at all to be ashamed of.


PozzieBoy said...

I soooo can relate to this... alam mu yan. ;p

Anonymous said...

i just want to hug you...that's the least and the most i can offer now.

and yes, i will always love dido.

till we see each other take care.


d_ubermensch said...

I feel for you. It happened to me in 2009, the same time I found out about my sero-status.

I, too, became worried and started to question what IT will cause me, so I decided not to work for 10 months, and basically take a time off. Then I got a job in between, not exactly the job I like but took it as the offer is good, afterall. And guess what, just recently, my company called me and asked me if Id like to do my old job, and I did.

things will fall into places. =D

PinoyPoz said...

@PozzieBoy: IKR! I'll just enjoy the time off... tama?!

@Moi: Thanks thanks! Not as tragic naman really... But who can't use a hug, right?

@Uber: Naku, me going back may be my scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel-last-resort... time to move on.

mikeR said...

i believe you are a strong and good person...
...and i believe things will be better with you in time... are an inspiration, keep shining. :)

blessedcain said...

i agree with mikeR idol, with your personality and intelligence everything will be great for you in time. hug with you and moi! and may i kiss? muah!
love and happiness!