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They Say That Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. . .

March 20, 2015

This I know. I know that it’s true. 

I was crushed. After nine years together, I was being told our relationship was over. 

Let’s talk about this. I can change. Give me another chance.

We’ve been over this. You’ve had chances, but it just turns out the same way every time. No, this time it’s really over. You’ve got a half hour to clean out your stuff. I’m going to need your key and your laptop. 

I hadn’t been fired from a job since I was 16 years old. And it wasn’t even just that I was being fired. I had married this company. It wasn’t just what I did, it’s who I was. The year was 2003 and the company was Microsoft. 

I’d been so excited when I got to go to work for Microsoft. Marry the company? I absolutely fell head over heals in love with it. I had a closet full of clothes with Microsoft’s name on them. I took my kids to the summer Microsoft party every year. Each Christmas my wife and I would attend the swanky department christmas party. The annual company meeting was an all day affair held at Safeco Field, the home field of the Seattle Mariners. 

I didn’t bother with a personal email account. Why should I? I had the [email protected] account. I was never planning to leave. Let’s face it, the money was pretty good too, but just the idea of working for Microsoft was exciting. Even now, 20 years after I first started there, I still get a bit of a thrill thinking that I got to work there. 

And I did some really cool things. I worked on the first three versions of Microsoft Exchange. I worked on a skunkworks project. That’s a project that hasn’t been publically announced. It was called NetApp and it was a very cool online office-type application. It was so cool, the Office group killed it for fear we would take some of their customers. 

My final team was on a project codenamed Longhorn. We were building hooks into the operating system that allowed programmatic control of the operating system and all applications. This was important to screen readers fro the blind, but also to automated testing groups. Longhorn would later be released as Microsoft Vista, although our code got cut out of Vista.

And it was the manager of that group that announced he wanted a divorce. 

Losing a job is emotionally taxing. I think it’s harder on husbands and fathers. I remember walking to my car thinking, “What am I going to tell my wife?” “How will I tell the kids they can’t go to the Microsoft summer picnic?” 

This sepration was particularly difficult for me, because I was emotionally married to Microsoft. I had let it define who I was. Now that I no longer was employed, I had to rediscover who I was.

I’ve used the marriage metaphor a lot this week. It’s because emotionally, that’s how it feels. . . I think. See, I’ve been happily married to the love of my life for 27 years. I’m constantly amazed at that fact. However, I do know a little about divorce. My mother has been married 7 times. Thirty years of that was to my dad until he passed away several years ago. So, that’s a lot of other failed relationships. 

When you are married to another person, you can nurture and build a stronger relationship. If you are married to a corproration it is nearly always going to end emotionally bad. My first company was WordPerfect. We were together for five years. Then, Microsoft came calling and I told WordPerfect I was leaving. I said, “It’s okay we can still be friends.” 

The company threatened to sue me. They went after me pretty hard for months. I didn’t understand. I’d done so many good things for that company how could she. . .they. . .treat me like this? 

I’d emotionally married the company and then asked for a divorce. The company responded exactly like a spurned lover. 

So, what are you to do? 

You don’t get emotionally involved. 

I went to work several years ago for a large non-profit in Utah. This was an organization that aligned very closely to my own personal world view and values. The company was populated with people who all shared a common belief structure. Surely, it was okay to fall in love with THIS company, right? They were everything I ever wanted in a relationship. 

I stayed emotionally disengaged. In fact, I approached each day as if it were my last. And then one day it was. They had some reversal and ended up laying off a bunch of us. I should have been emotionally devastated. In fact, 15 years earlier I would have been. 

However, since I had resisted the urge to get married, it wasn’t nearly as tramatic when she said, “We should start seeing other people.” I’ve been accused of being emotionally distant in my personal relationships. It’s something I’ve consciously worked on. After all, these are the people I love and I want them to know and feel that. 

However, I’ll reserve those feelings for those who can reciprocate them. I’ve given up marrying companies. It’s too emotionally exhausting. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild. 
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