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When Joanna Clarke’s husband lost his job, she harboured vengeful thoughts over their bad luck. She knew she had to overcome her bitterness, but how?

The words my husband used to tell me that he had lost his job escape me. That moment, and the hours that followed, are a blur of shock and panic. What I remember is realising, months later, that this unexpected detour had turned me into what no one wants to be: a bitter person.

I first felt bitterness as a shocking, overwhelming urge – while setting the table for dinner – to wreak revenge on my husband’s former employer for throwing our lives into disarray. My husband had given himself vocationally to the organisation for a decade, and we had moved to a new country so he could take the job. We had oriented our lives around the place and, although work phone calls were a constant soundtrack to our lives, we were truly grateful that he had meaningful work to sustain us raising our family in such a beautiful part of the world.

Leaving our home and friends had been an enormous wrench, but it seemed worth it. We felt as if we were part of a community, and we made wonderful friends all over the world through his job. Promotion to a senior leadership role was my husband’s most recent reward – something he had worked so hard for – but suddenly everything changed.

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