For those of you who have stuck it out: thank you. You rock!
Now, let me bring you up to speed....
After my grandmother passed at New Years it knocked me for six. I'm sure lots of people experience that utter loss of bearings when someone so close to you passes. It takes a while to get back to normal.
For me, it triggered an episode of anxiety. I've never experienced such a big panic attack as I did that day I went back to work, but it was truthfully THE most terrifying experience of my life to date. No lies. Your heart is racing, you're convinced you're going to die, you're sweating, crying, out of your mind with an un-named worry.
I was scared to leave the house. Getting to the gym was a daily struggle. I even thought about not going to pole at some points. I mean, what the HELL is that about!?
It took me a long while to realise that I was fighting myself. I was DESPERATE to pick up just as though nothing had happened, like I was the same person I had been before my grandmothers death. It doesn't work like that. When you interact with people they leave something in you, with you. Although I had everything she'd given me, a part of my life was over. Gone. I'd never return home to see her again. Never walk in the door to be greeted with a smile & an insistent demand I have food - since I always looked "so skinny" to her. I'd never be able to call her again, in frantic, flapping wondering HOW THE HELL TO GET THIS WINE OUT OF MY BEIGE CARPET OMG NAN I HAVE A DEPOSIT ON THE FLAT HERE. Never again. These things were all gone.
Replacing them though, was an adult woman. Someone who accepted that my grandmother had been VERY ill for a long time & it was selfish to wish her to stay alive. This woman had been touched by the loss of someone who was so so precious, but it was the natural order of things. We all die eventually. Don't we.
I remember when it hit me. I was going to die. Maybe not just yet, maybe not for a long time but it would happen.
What had I achieved? I was in a job that made me unhappy, I didn't like the way I looked and I felt trapped by my own ambitions. I'm not ready to die having unrealised ambition. This I refuse.
My family thought I was having a mid-life crisis, but it was more than that. I was awakening.
I decided to leave my job. I LOVE my students. I love working with them, talking to them, watching them grow as people. I MISS them so horribly it sometimes brings tears to my eyes but teaching was not the right place for me. Many people love it, but for me it was suffocating - so much admin, so many rules & regs - some that stopped me from being able to help my students when they needed me, so many expectations, observations, check-ins. My employers were so supportive of me during my decision to leave teaching, it almost made the decision harder - having this amazing, supportive place where I had people who valued me and choosing to walk away, but I feel like its been the right decision. As of Friday, I am no longer a teacher.
Since January I'd been fighting the desperation of depression and pushing against the anxiety that threatened to close me away. About a week before the day I left my job, after a particularly "bad" week I suddenly took a breath. It was no normal breath. It was the moment I realised that I'm ALIVE, I'm happy and that actually, I have a wide future ahead of me. There's no room for illness in that future. The darkness started receding.
I had finally accepted that the depression, the anxiety - they're part of me.
I'm not saying they ARE me. I'm saying they're part of me - just like my sense of humour, or my memories. I suddenly realised that that's ok. I'm going to deal with that.
When I was raped at 11 years old, I wondered if my life was ever going to be ok again. I wondered if I'd ever be "normal". I *knew* it was my fault and I've hidden this for so many years, believing to my very core that that was my fault. My grandmother's death riled up all of the emotions of loss, guilt, fear that I'd bottled up as a child. I'd bottled up and hidden them - allowing them to pop back out whenever they were ready to. The doctor finally diagnosed PTSD & the recovery started.
So. Here it is. My deepest darkest secret. You know when you're a child and you're scared of the demons in the closet? They seem so scary because they're hidden, they're in the darkness. They're terrifying until the lights come on. I've carried that for so many years, the guilt & loss have become a scary scary thing. Exposing this demon to the light now makes it seem much less. I feel like I've exposed my most intimate self but what I am exposing is something born of hatred, of degradation, of violence. It isn't mine to hide any more, this is something that happened to me. It is not ME.
For so long it seemed like I had something to hide. Something I had done. Now I finally realise that it's not ME that should be judged.
I'm finally ready to shine that light into the closet. Here's to FINALLY accepting me & my future.