About a month ago I decided to try and go to church. I had not been for many weeks, I missed it, Matt had to go anyway and I was feeling mostly up to it. Even so, I waited until the very last minute to make the decision. I was feeling apprehensive and a bit nervous the whole ride there. I forgot to eat breakfast.
Going to an event like a morning service is difficult for me nowadays for many reasons. It involves a lot of talking with wonderful people who I care about, which is great but also tiring. I don’t like those people to see how weak or in pain I really am so I push myself without really thinking about it, forcing myself to remain standing for these conversations to prevent them from being awkward. It also takes a great deal of focus and concentration to follow along with small talk, something I have in short supply these days and which makes me feel like I’ve gone for a run after it’s gone. I don’t get to see these people often, and I want to give them every bit of focus I can muster. And when the service starts, I want to focus on that, too. I want to stand and sing for the hymns and follow along with the prayers. But on this day a month ago I realized pretty quickly that if I was to make it through the service standing up was not going to be an option. Halfway through, singing wasn’t an option either, because I couldn’t muster the energy to force the words out. I mouthed along because I didn’t want to bring attention to myself. But I couldn’t do anything about communion.
When the time came for our aisle to stand and join in, I found I could not get out of my chair on my own. Matt half-led, half-carried me up the center aisle and then back. I was humiliated. I felt like an idiot. The whole car ride home I felt like crying. Bad enough that I couldn’t stand and sing with everyone else, but I should at least be able to walk on my own!
Matt looked at me like I was crazy. (In a nice way.) He pointed out how important it was to me to be open about my illness with others. Didn’t that also mean allowing them to see what it was really like?
I huffed. I puffed. I accused him of calling me a hypocrite. I was mad that he was probably right. I was mad at myself for being so proud about being open, but really only wanting to be open on my terms. I want to be open about what’s happening to me in a way that makes me look strong. I don’t want to look helpless and weak. I want to show off my sense of humor and cleverness. I don’t want to clue anyone in on the nights crying or the way I feel I’m slowly losing control over my life–at least, not until I can think of a cute way of putting them into words.
Which brings me to the past three weeks, and the thing I don’t know exactly how to put into words: losing my job. Something that is confusing and humiliating and frustrating and infuriating and freeing all at once. It’s something that I seem far more comfortable talking about in person than I am writing about it. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to burn bridges. Maybe it’s because writing it down in a public way makes it real.
I know that I’m not comfortable writing the details. But here’s what I can write: About three weeks ago I was given an offer I had to refuse. (Okay, okay, that was fun to write.) Last week I gave my two weeks’ notice. Tomorrow is my last day of work.
If you know me, you know I love my job. I love working with the kids, finding just the right book for just the right reader, matching up that desperate parent with the series that will change their child’s life. I believe in what I do and I’m really, really good at it. And I’m really, really going to miss it.
But I’m also looking forward to what’s next. Tentatively, apprehensively. For the first time in my life, I’m looking at a time of true rest. I’m embarking on what I’m calling my Summer of No Projects. This summer I will not be looking for another job. I will not be writing a new book. I won’t be deliberately cultivating new skills, or training to run a 5k, or painting a room. Instead I am going to rest. I am going to develop routines and focus on my health. I am going to breathe and I am going to see where I am called next.
I am terrified.