Pain Point


pain point

n. a level of difficulty sufficient to motivate someone to seek a solution or an alternative; a problem or difficulty. Subjects: , , ,

Those two words were bantered around in my last job as often as “SEO” or “analytics.”  It was  important for marketers to know the point at which a customer would need the solutions that our interactive agency could provide. I had no idea that I would experience a pain point of my own exactly three days after being laid off.

It all started with the trunk of my car. You see, when your boss tells you that your services are no longer needed the first thing you do is start packing. So Thursday afternoon I managed to shove the entire contents of my office into the back of my Kia Sorrento. Then I promptly pulled the cover across the lamp, books, photos, notepads and clock from MBA school graduation. “I will deal with that later,” I thought.

But Thursday evening passed as did Friday and Saturday and I chose to completely avoid the back of my car. Finally Sunday rolled around and I had to look for a file. Was it in there? I was forced to come face to face with the very thing I had been dodging. You see when my “stuff” moved from the trunk to the house I would officially be gone from work. The now former work. The place I drove to each day for one year at 8:00 sharp so as to arrive 15 minutes early before the official start time of 8:30. Now the “stuff” and all that it symbolized was gone. Gone were the morning “hello” exchanges with the salesmen as they walked past my office. Gone was the  fun banter across the cubicle walls with my fellow marketers. Gone were the Monday pizza lunches with the girls and the Friday marketing team meetings.

That’s when the tears started to flow, and then the sobs, a bit uncontrollable at first.  I didn’t want my son to see me crying in the back hall but my husband showed up and gave me a hug. He, more than anyone, understood.  He was laid off from his job just one month earlier. (Thankfully he now has a new job.)  “Those were your friends,” he said, patting my shoulder.  “Those were the people you saw every day.”

“Yes, I guess that is it,” I said puzzled at why the sudden wave of sadness over a green and gold lamp.

The solution to my pain point is starting my own business. That has been my lifelong dream. And tomorrow is a new day when I will do just that.

But tonight I write through a veil of tears.


  • Alan says:

    Many lessons are not taught until they are ready to be learned.
    It is difficult to measure your progress until you pass a milemarker.
    This is a convincing marker, and fortunately the pain will pass.
    As with any other loss, you need to take the opportunity to absorb it fully to understand it and appreciate how you came this way, and where it leads you now. The world was very different one year ago, and it will likely be very different one year again.

    The past sure does have some great memories, but it is the future that we’re livin for. As unprepared as I was, and as painful as my job search was when I left – I’m certainly no worse for the wear. If not for that experience I doubt I would be where I am today, and certainly would not have the basis for so much of today’s enjoyment of this new life.

    It will feel lonely at first, but you have friends – and we’ll be watching.
    Knowing you, you’ll emerge stronger and more self-confident than before (if that is even humanly possible)… Carry on. /;^)

  • maryellenmiller says:

    Thanks Alan. I appreciate the support. I told my husband yesterday I feel like that Gloria Gaynor song, remember? “I will survive!”
    And, in fact, thrive. Hey, it’s Monday.

  • I know it’s more than the friends that you’re missing. There’s something about job loss and the sudden absence of a defined, shared purpose that goes with the job. It feels like the death of an identity too. You’re much more than any job, of course, but your job is a big part of you. (You don’t do anything small!) Whenever a part of you — or **anyone**, for that matter — comes to an end, it leaves a hole. There’s an emptiness where something else used to be.

    Don’t hesitate to be gentle with yourself. I think it’s natural to grieve as if you’ve lost a pet or something more…. something that you knew would only be in your life for a limited time — whether the relationship would eventually sever at your hand, fate’s or time’s — but that you dared to commit to in the here & now anyway.

    Looking forward: I’m glad you know exactly what you want to do next. You are going to be positively **brilliant** on your own. I hope that as your Tri-Cities-based business picks up steam, you will develop clients in the Charlotte area. I’d love to see you more often. Really, the entire Southeast needs to take its rightful place as a powerhouse within the U.S. economy — which will definitely require innovative marketing for SE companies and inventors!

  • maryellenmiller says:

    Nic, I always appreciate your support. I agree with everything you said and you have said it beautifully.

  • ThomasD says:

    Hi Mary-Ellen,

    Thanks for posting this. I’m suffering my second lay-off in a six month period. I lost my first Community manager gig in September, found a contract gig in October, only to be laid off again in January. It’s been tough and navigating the unemployment tangle hasn’t been great either. I’m still waiting on an unemployment check, six weeks later. Your blog was a breath-of-fresh air, and gave me something to think about as I attempt to figure out what in the heck to do next!

  • maryellenmiller says:

    Hang in there ThomasD! You have certainly suffered a lot of loss lately. I love that LinkedIn Community Managers group- has a lot of intelligent conversation. I am glad that something I wrote served as an inspiration to you. That was part of why I wrote this-so that others might be served through my pain. All the best to you!

  • Ken says:

    Several years ago, I experienced the pain of being laid off. It was an odd loss of identity and a loss of my “weekday” family. I laughed, shared, consoled and perspired with these people every day for years. I spent as much time with them… as I did with my wife and kids. I completely relate with the emotions, so eloquently expressed in your post. In all honesty… I’m jealous of current position. A new start and a determination to be independent. I look forward to seeing you step out on your own and be successful. Take advantage of this day, and one day soon… you’ll be reflecting on this post in a different and much brighter light.

  • maryellenmiller says:

    Thanks for your encouragement Ken. Truly, I had not anticipated the piano that landed on my back Sunday afternoon. It came out of nowhere. I so appreciate your words of encouragement-I will make it. And it’s so wonderful to have friends like you and the others who read this post there cheering me on. Now-off to work on my updated resume!

  • MA says:

    I think today’s HER article is perfect timing. In light of your Pain post, the photograph is priceless.

    What a wonderful article, and it shows you’ve had your priorities right. That’s No. 1, no matter what you do!

    ALL the best, and thanks for everything : D

  • Shannon Castillo says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about this. BUT I’m so excited that you are going out on your own. Strong, educated, courageous women like us may sometimes by down but we’re NEVER out! There is a reason for everything. Someday you’ll go back and thank them for the layoff. It might possibly be the best thing that could ever happen to you. Jose and I are both praying for you and your new adventure.

  • maryellenmiller says:

    Shannon, Thanks to you and Jose for your kind words of inspiration and for your prayers! I agree about how I will view this one day. Thanks for your comment.

  • Aaron says:

    Good Luck Mel!! I know that whatever you do, it will be successful. I’ll be watching and looking forward to saying “Mary Ellen Miller? Oh yeah, I knew her when she had just started that billion dollar company of hers”

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