Freedom

Once I knew I had a week to recover before going back to work, I tried to push my anxiety and stress aside and just enjoy myself. I went to an apple orchard, hung out with the boys, watched only higher vibration videos or music, and did my best to keep nourished and treat myself gently. My breathing got better as I relaxed. I felt more peace, more joy.

As I kept listening to Abraham Hicks, I kept hearing that focusing on how you feel is the most important thing you can do. Your emotional guidance system is constantly showing you where each thought you have resides. Bad feeling thoughts are farther away from the truth or how Source feels about you. The uncomfortable feeling is an indication that you are pinching yourself off from Source. It is an indication that your thinking is out of alignment.

As I thought about it, how many times have I kept thinking thoughts that didn’t feel good? Often times, I justified it with needing to keep my feet firmly planted in reality. I rationalized that everyone has to deal with unpleasant things. By being irritated with them, it was just showing my weakness. If you don’t like something, you just have to work harder. My lack in satisfaction was only a result of not putting in enough effort. This kind of thinking allowed my inner demon to go on a litany of how much I sucked at a moment’s notice.

I wanted to believe that my happiness meant more. I kept thinking that it was such a wonderful idea, too bad that it was unrealistic. As I laid in a hospital bed, gasping for air, I began to think that maybe my happiness was the most important thing in my life. Every choice I have made in my life has been based in fear of some sort. I worried about how people would view my choices. I felt that my options were always limited, so the goal was to pick the lesser evil. In every choice, had I ever really thought that I had another option?

I thought about how I felt about my work. I came to teaching because I wanted to get out of sales and recruitment. I thought helping out the next generation would sit well with me karmically. It had good benefits. Once you got in, there was some job security. I knew it was a career people viewed with positivity. I also hope that it would mean more financial stability.

The entire time I went through the process to become a teacher, I ran into tons of obstacles. When my pre-diagnosis symptoms were at their worst, I had my first interview for a teaching position during my student internship. I could feel that I was bleeding heavily during the interview and did my best to ignore it. I felt the blood overwhelming my protection. When I stood up to shake the principal’s hand at the end, I felt a huge clot fall out and could feel it slip out of my underwear and down my pantyhose. When I looked back, there was a pool of blood on the chair. Embarrassed is a term that can’t even begin to express the horror I felt. Still, I pressed on.

As painful as it was, I wanted to prove that I could do it. I accepted a job at a wonderful school, with a principal that got it. The student body was kind and loved me. I put in the endless hours and resources just to receive a 12% pay decrease within the first four months. Even with the help of great mentor teachers, understanding administrators, and a kind student body, the burn out was high. We were often asked to create something out of nothing because the administration and the school board kept mishandling funds. I felt like I proved that I was a good teacher, but I was exhausted.

The next year, I never came back to school. I was diagnosed and went through treatment. I was given the time and space to heal and I appreciated it. When I came back this year, I didn’t feel super happy about it. I had learned so much about myself in a year. I realized I was a lesbian. Knowing that I was in a conservative district, I worried about being persecuted for it. Having taken a year to care for myself, I didn’t feel great about submitting myself to the pressure and the stress of teaching. I realized that I have social anxiety and being in this kind of environment was never going to sit well. I started to question my competence. My self-worth began to take a hit. I would commute two hours, put in 12-hour days, and have no energy left for anything but throwing myself in bed at the end of the day. My legs and back killed. My ankles swelled and caused great pain.

I tried to plow through the discomfort. This was my life now. I tried to take steps to make things easier, but things are never really easy for a new teacher. The curriculum didn’t exist, so I was trying to make it up. How could I pack 48 hours of work in 24? I started feeling depressed. How long can I do this for? Is this what the rest of my life was going to be like?

By the time Thursday rolled around, I had a serious conversation with the boys. I told them that I didn’t think I could go back. I knew it was ridiculous to give up after a good job and great health care, especially after being so sick. Still, as I thought about going back, all I could feel was this overwhelming sensation of nausea. As I described all of the reasons why I didn’t want to do it, my eyes flooded with tears. It became clear that every fiber of my being was done, over it.

If I am to go through life with ease and joy, selecting only the better feeling thoughts and letting my emotional response guide my behavior, there was no clearer message. The thought of going back, if even for one day, was too painful to even contemplate. If I really want to change the way I live my life, making my happiness my number one priority, the answer was very clear.

Still, this was something I have never really done before. I always have chosen security over my happiness. I didn’t always have faith or trust in the Universe having my back. I believed every news article that said jobs were hard to get. I believed in the myth that no employer would ever hire you if you had a bump in your work history. I viewed failure to be a good employee with homelessness and dire poverty.

When I realized if I only had three months to live, would I rather spend it forcing myself to do something I didn’t want to do or try to follow my bliss, the answer became clear. The boys backed me up. They understood and didn’t judge.

Over the weekend, I took a few things out of the classroom that I couldn’t live without. I looked around and questioned if I was doing the right thing. Maybe it would have worked out in a different time or space, but I was a different person. When I became a teacher, I had no connection to who I really was. I didn’t know what I want or what made me tick. I didn’t realize that I was putting myself in a situation that allowed me to bully myself or be bullied by others. I accepted that it was all right to be talked down to by students, parents, administration, or society because I was trying to do a greater good. I deserved more. I was worth it.

On Monday, I made the call and submitted my resignation letter. It was very quiet. No fireworks. I felt a peace come over me. All of the struggle I had put myself through lifted. I never had to worry about another conference or student fundraiser. I didn’t have to worry about teacher evaluations or the constant staff meetings that never produced anything. I was free.

I am not advocating that everyone quit their job, but it became a matter of life or death for me. I didn’t come through this last year to just go back to being the same miserable person I always was. It is time for me to take radical efforts to put me first. For once, I am not running to another job immediately out of fear. I am putting all of my time and effort into developing who I am and what I want to be and do without limitation. Finally, I feel truly free.

Hospitalized

I woke up the next day and had trouble breathing. Not being able to catch my breath scared me. I worried about dying and worried that no one would really care whether I was alive or not. What did I really bring to the table anyway? I was scared and there wasn’t anyone who cared. I didn’t want to go back to work. I didn’t want this life. I didn’t want to be sick. I thought of how much harder life was going to be because I got sick. I found it harder to catch a breath.

I tried to go to another clinic, but they told me to go to the ER. Just the walk from the car to the clinic had taken a lot out of me. I felt like I could collapse. Maybe I needed someone to take me. I figured no one was available. No one was returning my messages. I drove myself to the ER. They immediately got me into a wheelchair, sent me through triage, and left me in the waiting room for an hour or more.

I tried to just breath. There was no point in letting anyone know I was there. What did it matter? I was finally brought into the ER and given a little room. It was good that I was alone; there was no place for anyone. Hey, they must understand I am sick. Maybe I am not making this stuff up. I knew I wasn’t, but it was hard to take any of my concerns seriously. I am not my own best judge.

I was alone. I was scared. I thought I might be dying. The gown felt comfortable. Having people around me felt comfortable. They didn’t really know me. They didn’t know that I wasn’t worth it yet. I had already texted the boys that I am in the hospital. No word. I cried. No one cared. I am just a nuisance. I got a breathing treatment; there was no real difference in my breathing. Chest x-ray, possible pneumonia.

I watched the television. Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, she was like a breath of fresh air. School was going to hate me. What is the point of anything? Try to just calm yourself down. Distract yourself. I started to get texts; maybe the boys cared. I am just a nobody. Whether I am here or not impacts no one.

The ER doctor tells me that my pulse oxygen is way to low. She is going to admit me. I let school know. No use fighting. Lay back….surrender. I try to be as kind to my nurses as possible. It isn’t their fault I am here. Make their life as easy as possible.

___________________________________________

The hospital room was cold and sterile. I was by myself. I had a TV and a window. As hospital rooms go, it was actually pretty nice. I kept getting poked and prodded. The boys knew I was there and were coming to visit. I should probably let my Dad know, but that could wait. I just focused on my breath.

I got dinner sent to me right before the kitchen closed. I was starving, but I had to eat slowly. I gasped for air in between bites. My arm was hooked up to an IV of fluids and antibiotics. My oxygen was set at 6 liters. People kept swinging in and out: repertory for a breathing treatment, a nurse for meds, and an aide for vitals.

I calmed down when I saw Max and Alex come in. They were covered with a mask, just like masks and robes covered the medical staff. Did I have Ebola? Seeing them made me feel better, although I hadn’t wanted them to see me this way. They were a little scared. I think we were all wondering what we could really do.

I eventually called my father. He was concerned and said he would come by the next day. I wasn’t so sure if they wouldn’t send me home the next day. I told him I would keep him posted. He said he would let my sister know.

Tests came back and showed that my bronchitis was viral. It was rhinovirus, but they wanted to take precaution to make sure it was the enterovirus the news was going on about. I had breathing treatments every four hours. The first night I was hot and miserable. I felt like I was in a constant hot flash. I couldn’t get comfortable and I couldn’t sleep.

I tried to be as positive and upbeat for the nurses and medical staff. I figured they already had so much on their plate. I rarely hit the nurse button. I tried not to think about all the extra work I would have on my plate going back to school. I felt so guilty not being at school. I watched the television, which was nice because I didn’t have it at home, but then I realized that it brought my energy down.

It became clear quickly that they were going to keep me for some time. Each check of my lungs and pulse oxygen didn’t really improve that much. My sister came in early the next morning. She was with her husband, on their way to a doctor’s appointment. She was super upset. I told her she didn’t have to worry; I was fine. She left a cold Diet Dr. Pepper. One of the things most patients in the hospital go through is caffeine withdraw. I had a killer headache, and sipping on it helped out.

I continued to try and chill out. I was bored and tired. My father visited for a little bit. The boys would come by every night. By the third day, I was ready to jump ship but the doctor refused to let me go. I was still on 4 liters of oxygen and a walk I took earlier in the day left me out of breath. Alex was almost ready to just take me, but we just relaxed and let everything run its course.

By the last day, I learned a lot. I was so concerned without being a bother, that I slept the first night in a room that was 75 degrees. I sleep in a house that is 65 degrees, so no wonder I was burning up. I found the thermostat on my own during that second day and turned it down. When I mentioned it to a nurse, I also got a fan. I got a chair on my last day that should have been there the first day. I realized that I wasn’t advocating for myself.

I developed a reputation, according to my nurses, of being super sweet. That felt nice, but why did they I care if they liked me or not? Why wasn’t my comfort important to myself? I learned that being sick sucked, but once you are there you have to surrender to the patience it takes to heal. Feeling guilty or bad about yourself only makes everything miserable.

I did this to myself. I had burned the candle at both ends. What did I need to learn from this? The boys came in the last night and told me that I had to release the guilt of not being at school. It was killing me. I felt like I was letting everyone down. It hung on me like a brick. I had already burned through half of my sick days. How was I going to make it through the year?

Max and Alex reminded me that I didn’t owe the school or the students anything. I was more important. I was a “good girl.” Nothing I had done was wrong. Eventually, I was able to release it. I had to because it was killing me. My energy began to lift and I turned off the television and focused only on meditation and raising my vibration.

On the last day, one of the aides helped me get off the oxygen and build up my strength. She convinced the nurse of my progress and the doctor finally agreed to let me go. The boys picked me up and I spent the night at their house. I felt well. I was healing.

I spent nearly the entire week in the hospital. I had to return to the doctor on Monday to be released back to work. On Sunday, I went through a horrible downward spiral. If the doctor said I could go back the next day, I would have to drive to work from the doctor’s office and work through the night to get ready. I didn’t know if I could do it. Would I have enough strength? I was in a fowl mood.

At the appointment, the doctor told me that I would have to be off the next week. She said it could take 4-6 weeks to recover. I only had five sick days left. She said that I might have to go back part time, or push to have the students carry the weight of the class. My voice was already gone at this point. I knew that any teacher who walks into a classroom at anything less than full force is a walking nightmare. The students feed on energy. When they know a teacher’s energy is weak, they push it because they can.

I called off work and had a fellow teacher help create the sub plans. My school email already had notes related to prepping for our teaching evaluations. One section of it is based solely on attendance. Even though I was hospitalized, I would be marked down as ineffective in that area. It was hard not to be upset, but knowing that I had the rest of the week off improved my outlook.

I tried hard during the course of the week to just relax, have fun, and rest.

End of Summer Sadness

Max and Alex thought what we needed was a trip out of town. Alex took a week of vacation, and we decided to visit his family in the Upper Peninsula. We drove through the heart of Michigan, stopping at the bridge to take in Lake Huron; we swam in Lake Michigan on the Upper Peninsula side, and had a pretty good time. At some point, I got a call to interview for a new job. The boys had me take it, even though it would leave us with only a couple of days in the UP.

We decided to travel back home through Wisconsin. We were tired. At some point, Alex started asking me some things about dating. The subject was definitely my love life. I immediately shut down. I don’t know if I just got self-conscious, started judging myself for what I have done or didn’t so, or if I just got overwhelmed by self-judgment but I didn’t really speak for the next 5 hours. I wanted to, I just couldn’t.

I don’t know if I ever really recovered from that trip. I came back and bombed the interview. I would have to start back at school. The boys, my sister, and I took several days to empty out my classroom and prepare it. I connected with the head teacher to get the curriculum. I was slated to teach 7th & 8th grade English. I had been teaching Spanish. As I looked through the materials, I felt a deep pit in my stomach. I didn’t want to teach English to middle schoolers. I went to the professional development days. My 1-year anniversary from my surgery occurred without any real pomp or circumstance. On the last day before Labor Day weekend, I went to my room to grab something during lunch and was greeted by a personal email from the new high school principal stating that the Spanish department basically bailed on him and if I had any interest in teaching Spanish, I needed to see him.

I sat there and stared at the screen. I had already put in all of this work to prepare my room. As I thought long term, I knew I would be miserable if I didn’t give it a shot. I took the high school Spanish position and had the boys help me move everything to the high school that night, without an elevator key. Somehow, I figured out a way to get the classroom ready and welcomed the students that next week.

Many of the students had been mine when I had taught last. They remembered me and were excited to see me. It felt good. I felt I built a good bond with them and laid the groundwork for a good year.

Still, the reality of everything still hit me like a brick wall. I hadn’t been as physically active in awhile. My feet and legs hurt so badly at the end of the day. My commute was still two hours. The curriculum was a mess, and there are never enough hours in the day to do all the stuff I feel needs to be done. I never saw the boys anymore because I didn’t have any spare time. I felt so alone. My whole life started to revolve around the job again. Had I not learned anything in this past year?

Although I care deeply for the students, I feel like I am killing myself a little more every day that I am there. I have thought about quitting, but what would I do? No health insurance. No money. No job. What am I fit for anymore? Plus, I had already sunk $500 of my own money into school supplies.

This past weekend, I had tried hard to make sure I didn’t have to go in to work. I got my house cleaned, bought my groceries. I was ready. On Sunday night, I could feel that tickle in the back of my throat. By 10 pm, I knew I had a problem. I had no login to order a sub. Did I want to burn a sick day this soon? By 3am, I realized that I had no choice. I threw on some clothes and drove 1 hour to work. I put together all the materials for a sub and a backup plan if I needed more than one day. I emailed, left voice messages, and tapped a big note on the office door to tell them to order me a sub. I drove back home and crawled into bed. By the afternoon, I knew I needed to seek help. I went to an immediate care clinic. The doctor told me that I already had bronchitis and an ear infection. He prescribed three different medications.

I came home and ordered a sub for the next day. I texted the news to Max and Alex, but I never heard back from them. I felt so alone. If I died, how long would it take someone to find my body? Who would care? I had forgotten about my weakened immune system. I was so grateful that I didn’t have to work the previous year. Of course, the kids’ bugs could kill me. This illness is different than being cancer tired. I have moments were I can’t breath. It is scary. I feel so alone. What have I really learned? Why am I here?

I eventually sent Max a text to see if he was alive. He said him and Alex slept most of the day. We talked a little. I am feeling more distance. I think they like that I am not around as much. I feel the opposite. There is always a little pain when you feel like you are not on the same page as someone you love so much.

Needless to say, I am feeling in a pickle. I am not satisfied. I feel miserable and alone. I don’t know how to help myself. I don’t know what my next move should be. Is anything really worth it? I hate that I am here. I don’t know where to go.