Library in children's room.

How I Lost My Job (and other things about which I’m a hypocrite)

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.

6 thoughts on “How I Lost My Job (and other things about which I’m a hypocrite)”

  1. You need to just rest. You have been through so much. Pain is exhausting. Remember how valued and loved you are just because you are Patsy. Your worth isn’t based on what you can or cannot do or how awful you feel on any given day. We are here for you. We are praying for you. Sending gentle hugs and a wiggly greeting from Tucker.

  2. Patsy, you express yourself so beautifully. I pray that this time of rest will be exactly that:REST. You are loved. Just know that. And believe it. And when you next feel like coming to church, sit down, let people come to you, and tell us to back off if we overwhelm you. We will understand.

  3. Thank you for sharing yourself and your pain with us. I hope and pray that this time of not being productive can be a time of healing for you. We all need to learn that we are worthy even when we don’t produce. You are loved, deeply loved.
    p.s. Feel free to sit down whenever and wherever you want, really!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing these honest thoughts, Patsy. I want to echo what Jan said, because I want you hear it a second time, and a third time, and a thousandth time: Remember how valued and loved you are just because you are Patsy. Your worth isn’t based on what you can or cannot do or how awful you feel on any given day. That is the truth. You are loved, and valued, and appreciated, and it’s not because you can stand and sing, or make small talk, or pay close attention to the sermon, or walk to receive Communion. It’s because you are Patsy, you are our friend, you belong to us and we to you, and above all, you are a child of God. There’s not one single thing you need to do to earn any of this. We are so glad to see you whenever you feel up to coming to worship, and it’s okay for you to decide what you have the energy for and what you don’t. We will honor and respect your needs without an ounce of judgment. You are loved. Rest well, share your truth, and know that you are always being surrounded by a giant circle of love and prayer.

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