As with any major crisis there is always the question, "What happened next?" Followed closely by, "Have things changed?"
After my failed attempt, I worked really hard to get to a better place. I met weekly with our family therapist who helped me tremendously. I also took medication for over a year. I also knew that I needed to teach at a different site. Our teachers' union felt the same way. We, unfortunately, were not the ones to have the final say. For reasons unknown to me, my district decided to keep me at the same site in the same grade level.
In June of that summer, I had removed all of the items from my classroom in hopes that I would be teaching on a different campus in the fall. Two days before the school year started, I put everything back in.
I'm not sure how I put on a smile that first day back, but I did. It is in my nature to be forgiving and hopeful. I desired to move past the events of the spring. In my opinion, I was the only one in this story who wanted things to improve.
Our union legal rep had encouraged me to not file a grievance until I returned in the fall. Shortly after the new school year began, we filed it because the working relationship between my supervisor and I had only worsened. I was like the kitty holding on to the rope with every fiber of its being. No one ever sees what happens to this poor creature. More than likely he eventually falls. That's what happened to me.
A few weeks after the grievance was filed, we heard the results. The decision was that it was unfounded. I knew at that point I had to let go of that rope at least for a bit.
On September 30, 2012 I went out on stress leave with severe pain in my right shoulder. I believe it was stress related. I did not know that I would never return to teaching. Less than two weeks later, my daughter had her first hospitalization in a behavioral health facility 100 miles away from home.
Sometime during the first few days and weeks of my daughter's hospital stay, it became clear what I was supposed to do. I really felt God telling me to stop fighting so hard to stay at a job where I would never measure up. My child needed me to be her caretaker. It was as if she needed more of me than I was able to give her when I was teaching. At the height of the school drama, I was working upwards of 60-70 hours a week trying to be the perfect teacher. My daughter got the measly leftovers. Not what I ever envisioned when I signed up to be a mom.
One thing that I had trouble letting go of was the guilt at not being able to stick it out with my darling kindergarteners. Their kindergarten year is the first year of their formal schooling, the foundation of the rest of their education. Eventually, I was able to move past my regret. In the years since, I have had the privilege of being able to see a few of my students from that year. Not one of them, nor their parents, has shown me anything but love and understanding.
Once I let go of the virtual rope that I had been holding onto for so long, I felt so much relief.
Life has not always been a bed of roses these last few years, but I am so thankful that I have been able to be so much more involved in my daughter's well being.
I never was able to work things out with my supervisor. After I left, we didn't speak to each other. On the day that I removed things from my classroom, she made herself sparse.
My doctor initially diagnosed me with anxiety disorder which later became PTSD. It took me many months before I could even drive the route to my school that I drove for over ten years. Every time I tried I would have a panic attack.
So that's what happened next after I planned to end my life. Things have definitely changed in the years since my failed attempt. I believe everything happens for a reason. Out of a dark and painful experience, came something beautiful.
After I resigned from teaching, I felt like this little plant peeking through the concrete.
*Photo credit and quote courtesy of my daughter.