Needful Pain

Today, the real became the official.
It surprised no one
     and yet
     the pain took my breath away.

A simple pass from one hand
to the other.
A simple manila envelope.
A sad smile from the recipient.

And just like that
     twenty-one years of teaching
     are officially ending.

I handed in my official letter today, informing my principal that I intend to leave teaching at the end of the year,
and will not be coming back. The letter didn’t actually say that, because wiser and cooler heads than mine have prevailed, and talked me into taking a year’s leave of absence. But I, and my principal, both know that I am not
coming back.

The tears were not entirely unexpected, but the simultaneous forming of a hollow hole in my stomach and the welling up of sadness around the hole knocked me back. It is so very strange to need something so painful. I need to leave teaching. If I stay, it will kill me a little every day. I cannot give another standardized test. I cannot do what I am being asked to do to students. It is even worse now that our state has adopted the Common Core, and developed a new test to measure student attainment of the standards.

I cannot participate in the cookie-cutting of my students.

But at the same time, leaving teaching is going to kill me.

If my life were a book, it might play out something like this:
Chapters 1-9: happy childhood
Chapters 9-10: parents divorce, slightly less happy childhood
Chapters 11-20: self-loathing, convinced of lack of self-worth
Chapters 21-42: teaching teaches me my power, and my self-worth, and that I am beautiful and smart and worthy

Teaching literally showed me who I am. I have never been so good at something as I am at teaching.

Holy shit, how do I walk away from this and stay whole?

I don’t. I don’t get to have it both ways.

But I can’t stay. Because it will kill me faster.

4 thoughts on “Needful Pain

  1. Kelli

    😦 😦 😦
    I haven’t grasped being at Pierce without you yet.
    However, I think you should celebrate, because you are following a dream, and embarking on a new adventure.
    And, I don’t think you are leaving teaching – just this chapter. There are so many different ways to teach, and you will always be a teacher.
    I’m stopping there, because my eyes are getting all misty.


  2. Lee

    I happen to know that you are great at many things. I have no doubt that you will continue to be whole and beautiful and smart and worthy in your next chapter. Oh, and happy!



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