School started without me…

Releasing by Jonathan Hateley
“Releasing” by Jonathan Hateley

And it was OK! The building didn’t fall down, the students didn’t cry or stand around looking lost without me there and no one pointed at me and said “Why aren’t you in school?”.  I felt a bit odd saying goodbye to my dear husband as he went off to the first day to meet his new class of Grade 7 students and I stayed home with the day stretching out before me, but my over-riding emotion was relief.

We had a lovely summer back in the USA seeing all my family and our friends. One of the things that was difficult was explaining to (or simply telling) people I hadn’t been in close contact with, that I was no longer teaching when they asked about school. Part of me was ashamed that I couldn’t “make it to the end” or that I hadn’t lived up to the American/Puritan work ethic, that I’d given up, I was too weak, too emotional, too sensitive…whatever.

Telling people about my inability to continue teaching reminded me slightly of the grieving process I went through when my daughter Hailey died at 4 months from SIDS. Each time I had to tell someone she had died it hurt, but it also healed. It was as if each telling was a step toward closure, towards the never-to-be-the-same life I would now lead. Naturally, it isn’t nearly as difficult or painful, but there was that element of grief. By the end of the summer I felt more able to accept that I’d done my best and couldn’t have done more or continued.

What really mattered and helped was that every single person understood or sympathized/empathized. No one – in spite of my fears – showed any sign of judgement or disappointment. In fact, everyone was supportive, especially one brother who told me, in no uncertain terms that I could and most likely would do more wonderful, successful things in my life. I carry those words with me every day.

Another relief – no one judged me, thought less of me or considered me a failure. They all, without exception, supported me.

I’m not ready to go back into the classroom. I don’t even know if I ever will be ready or want to go back. However, I am ready to release parts of my old life and step happily into the new life I’m slowly building for myself, using different talents and skills.

Thank you to everyone of you who has offered me support and loving kindness. And now, we’ll see what’s next!


**Sculpture by Jonathan Hateley. Link to his website here.**


5 thoughts on “School started without me…

  • Dear Kathy,

    I’m so sorry you are going through this. I hadn’t realized what was happening to you so I went back and read the older posts. I am so glad your family and friends are supporting you and that you are healing. I am sure that you will be able to build a happy and fulfilling life, after all, you do have things to do that you are interested in and can excel at. I look forward to reading about all of your future endeavors.
    Take care, Cynthia

  • Hi Kathy, although I follow the Unbroken Thread, I have not been following this blog. I am so sorry to learn of what you have been going through. Like Cynthia, I have gone back a read the older posts.

    Three cheers for your husband for seeing what was happening to you and taking appropriate action. Three cheers for you for listening to your husband and your doctors and giving yourself the time and space to heal.

    I have not been through anything like what you are going through but I was made redundant from a job that I had done for many years and really enjoyed. I understand the trauma of having your life suddenly altered and having no say in it, the sorrow of parting from friends and colleagues (even if you stay in touch, your relationship is radically altered), and the (irrational and unwarrented) feelings of failure and inadequacey. I agree with you that the process is somewhat like grieving and you go through the same gambit of emotions.

    I’m not surprised that your family were so understanding and supportive – it is a bit like with our embroidery, we think everyone will spot every tiny imperfection and judge us as not up to scratch when in fact the only person try to find fault is ourselves.

    Enjoy your time for making and most important of all – make yourself well again.
    Best wishes

  • Anyone who would be annoyed that you are not teaching, no matter the reason, might be someone who can be put on the last track in the station!

    Your life is yours – and it’s the only one you get, no matter what or when or how or who.

    My very best to you on all the new journeys in your life and know in your heart that switching paths is courageous! Good on you!

    Hugs for as long as you need and want. {{{Kathy}}}

  • Hello Kathy,
    I am so happy for you. I didn’t realize how deeply you were affected until reading earlier posts. Like others I follow the Unbroken Thread and not this blog. While realized your career was as teacher of music I mostly focused on you as a mentor for creativity and your stitching skills and knowledge. I so much appreciate your willingness to share these so freely and well to sort of live through some of your wonderful learning experiences. I erroneously felt you were leading the life of a fulfilled person with energy to spare. On my list of things to do would be to take lessons at RSN and travel to see lovely needlework on display.
    Now that you are at new beginnings I again can relate. I too was a teacher (special needs emotionally challenged students) for 32 years. As the breadwinner I felt I didn’t have any other options but to continue in my work. For years I carried my depression and own emotional needs as something that was secondary to the needs of family and students. I finally retired 4 years ago, 3 years sooner than planned. I could no longer face one more day in education. I too went to see a psychiatrist and received some very good options in behavioral management and drug therapy. Again I nearly relapsed as my disabled husband’s physical and emotional needs superseded my own. He was diagnosed with ALS after living for years with unbelievable chronic pain from a car wreck. He passed in June and I have been on a new journey ever since.

    I am glad you have received so much support and generous unconditional love from your friends and family. It is a marvelous thing to have! I look forward to seeing you grow through your other talents and even discover new skills with freedom to explore. Enjoy your journey! I predict I will see a vibrant Kathy through her blogs!

  • Hello Kathy. Like the other respondents I hadn’t realised what has been happening in your life because I dip in and out of this site.
    We who have been conscientious teachers are often perfectionists who work beyond hard and need to feel that no time must be wasted to remain in control. The problem is that it can spiral out of our control, often of our own making, but we can’t get off the merry-go-round. You did it! You jumped off – and well done you!

    I did the same thing 11years ago, in my early 50’s when I was a head of a school here in England, and I too had to jump. Luckily, financially, I was able to do so and I have never looked back. My days are full and I meet each day with excitement and I can honestly say that never once have I been bored.

    One of the hardest things that you may find, is that it is OK to do nothing! This has been the most difficult thing for me. Part of my psyche tells me not to waste one minute and I have sometimes had to claw myself away from that thought and the feeling that I’ve wasted a day. Now I just accept it.

    Treat this new stage in your life as an adventure and don’t go back. You will be totally fulfilled, I assure you. But don’t overdo things by taking on too much. You can and must say ‘no’.

    I look forward to following your adventure. X

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