Sunday, August 26, 2012

willow grief


I've tried to write about it several times
but I just couldn't. I was shaken. The tall structure I'd built for myself, had been knocked down. Not rocked softly with a call up to me, "Be careful, this is coming down!" But with a smile, and then a scary-quick, shattering hit with a sledge-hammer (hidden behind the back), 
as I fell I heard her say, "Well, have a really nice day." 
What?
Have a nice day? 
What did she just say?
Do you know what I said back to her? I said, "Oh..."
All I said was, "Oh..."

What I didn't know, and wasn't ready for was the grief. I sobbed. I sobbed until my eyes hurt so bad, I had to shut them. I kept them shut to keep out the truth of what happened. 
Then I couldn't breath and my husband told me to lay down, but I knew I should put my head between my knees. When my breathing finally slowed, I glanced into my closet and do you know what I thought? I thought to myself, I should really have something to hang all my purses on rather than have them in a pile like that. No one hires someone who keeps their purses in a pile like that. 
have a really nice day...
oh...

I was part of a team. I...was...part...of...a...team.
I worked HARD. I did everything I could to do it RIGHT. I flaggelated myself whenever I stepped a toe out of line, even when no one else knew it. I was TWO MINUTES LATE TO RECESS DUTY...why am I so stupid, why can't I get it together. I did it all because I wanted, I needed, I thought I needed "have-a-nice-day" to really and truly LIKE me. What was I thinking?
oh...

Let's pretend that you have been training to be on a sports team - any team, any kind of team that requires specific knowledge, training, ability to deliver under pressure, grace, flexibility, endurance, poise - can you imagine that? Imagine that you have wanted to be on T-H-E team for 5 years. 

The first year, they patted your hand, yes we know you've studied and all of that, but we would really just probably use you for a sub, just in case. Okay, okay! I'd love that! I'd do that!

The second year, they let you be an assistant. Terribly, terribly low on the totem pole. You are not really on the team. You sit on the sidelines and bring them water. You aren't supposed to have opinions of your own here, in this capacity. But you work your ass off, making sure they know you are still TEAM material. Some people notice, most really don't. Still, I'm very close to T-H-E team, and that makes me happy.

The third year, you join a new team. You are the only player. You MUST collaborate with T-H-E team. You hope this is your chance to really SHOW them what you can do. You make playbooks and exercise routines all on your own. You ask their advice on your new rule books. You make special dates to show them what you've been doing. They seem impressed. They admire the work you've done.

The fourth year they have an opening on their TEAM! You know you've worked hard at getting ready to be the new player. You KNOW if you could just get in there, they'd believe you had the potential to be MVP!
You do everything to get ready for the interview - you just know you'll get this job, you just know it.
No...sorry...no. You aren't young and cheap, and you do-not-have the right training...expensive I know, but you MUST get it.
devastation, but quick recovery...I'll just...I'll just mope a bit then I'll get on with life, I guess...
but lo! Mary Poppins calls, "You were our second choice, and we have another opening
 won't you come and be on our team?"
JOY! Joy and expectation. My dreams have come true. T-H-E TEAM wants ME. They want ME!
Work work work, work so hard you forget your daughter's 7th birthday, you stay late, you come early, you are on time to EVERY SINGLE THING (except recess duty sometimes, but other people miss it, too, and that seems normal).
Hooray, hooray, we can't wait for you to come play with us next year! We won every single game and now we are the best team in the district, and you KNOW you are excited to come back and be a part of T-H-E team again! 
Calmly, calmly, I prepare for the next interview. They said they loved me. They said I was great. They wrote great recommendation letters; they all led me to believe they'd choose me again. Life is good, life is amazing. I can't wait to do this again!

But lo! 
We've gone with someone else..mmmmkay...
Have a nice day!
oh...

Right now, I'm numb. I want to be angry. I want to feeeeeeel angry. But I feel numb.
I've not been eating. I force myself to eat right now, and that makes me kinda upset that they can affect me like this. But I thought I trusted them. I thought they were friends. I thought they believed in me.
I shouldn't have, they aren't, and they don't.
That is a bitter pill to swallow, Mary Poppins, and no amount of sugar is going to help that go down.

What I didn't realize was that this kind of job-loss causes real actual grief. I actually looked it up and felt (as much as you feel when you are numb and your heart feels like a lead weight in your chest) validated.
When you love your chosen career, your job is where the structure of your life lies. It is where your social circle probably is, and where your sense of worth comes from.
That was taken away from me.
It is a terrible, terrible blow.

What I keep trying to remind myself of is that I am always the willow. I bend but do not break...do you know that you really can break a willow branch, but it takes real force. The branch almost doubles over on itself before it snaps a really wet snap. The bark splays out and usually stays intact in places, but it leaves a terrible wound that does not heal. Once viciously abused like that, the branch will hang listless, with its broken and offended part hanging lifeless. It is a sad-looking thing. That branch probably feels numb, wondering Why...maybe it says, "Oh..."

3 comments:

Sea Angels said...

But! you can take a broken Willow branch, yes that very one..the one that is hanging off the tree..swinging in the breeze, lost abandoned....and you can plant it....you can tuck it into the soil..that broken branch, and it WILL grow..it will grow so easily and so beautifully, and the tree that it makes will be beautiful xxx
I promise, because a Willow is a very very special tree
Lynn

sarah said...

Oh my dear, I am so very, very sorry. (((Hugs))) When I think of all the work you did, the sacrifices you made, the joy you felt ...

Sometimes the lessons we must learn come hard.

You are not a willow to me, beloved Katie. You are the light on the willow branch. You are what illuminates the scarred bark, the grace of the long, dreaming leaves. You are flares and softness. And when a shadow comes, you seem to disappear, but you don't really ever disappear, because you are an always part of the great Light, and she will hold you.

You are on *her* team.

And she has the perfect job for you. This is just your training.

katiebird said...

@ Lynn - oh my dear, that made me cry. Thank you for reminding me of that. You are absolutely right.

@sarah - thank you thank you thank you. That was the perfect thing to say.

what a lucky woman I am to have such "window friends" as you both...