Let's just say my life doesn't exactly look like that these days.
Back in February, I was walking down the hall of the church when my "boss" came up to me and said "Your life group is going to meet at this time... and next Saturday I am going to take you out for dinner!"
The exchange was so quick that I didn't really have time to respond or think about things. A part of me had a feeling that something was awry, but I told myself to calm down and not stress for a week.... We would cross that bridge when we got to it....
So I forgot about it. And told no one about any concerns I had.
2 days later I had a meeting at the church. and right as I was on my way out the door, the chair of the HR committee told me that Sunday afternoon the committee wanted to meet with me. And I was pretty sure I saw the writing on the wall. Still not one to jump to conclusions, I tried to hide it... and again, not really tell anyone.
Friday night I had a lock in at the church with the youth group. It was a really weird experience. I had planned things that didn't really happen which was out of my control (like most things had become) and in anticipation of Saturday's dinner, I really started to re-evaluate how I was doing things. Maybe I wasn't the best youth leader I could be... Maybe I needed to try harder.... Maybe I needed to do more spiritual things with the kids....
After the lock in I had a meeting and then I went to my parents house and started to panic. I didn't want to deal with things so I just slept until it was time to go to dinner. I cried getting ready and started filling my mom in on my fears and what was going on. I was very nervous going in... And with good reason. The dinner was just as I had suspected. I was losing my job. My position was being eliminated.
The church had been growing and they were now in a place financially that they could afford to hire an associate pastor who would take on many things including the things I was doing. So in that respect, yes it was politics. And it had nothing to do with me or my job performance. Still it's not easy to hear that a job you have poured your heart and soul into for the last 3 years is being taken away from you.
I went home and crawled in bed with my mom (because even at 31, sometimes you still just need your mom) and cried and cried.... And cried some more. She kept trying to tell me that it was going to be for the better... But I couldn't see it.
The hardest part was getting up the next day and going to work and pretending like everything was fine. Technically I didn't know yet.... I managed to get through everything, but in my in between times, I cried in my office. And then it was time for my meeting....
And it was hard. It's hard to sit and hear that 2 days in a row. But this time, it wasn't just politics. I was told there were a lot of complaints about my job performance and I was asked if I wanted to hear them. I said yes... Because I wanted to know what I had done wrong. And the saddest thing was that this was the very first time I had ever heard any of the complaints, some of them even a year old. It's hard to fix problems that you don't even know are there. And so while yes, a lot of this change has been because of politics, it's hard not to take some of it personally when you are told all of the things you have done wrong.
But it's funny because I didn't cry then. It wasn't until AFTER that when someone said to me "but not all bad things were said about you. You have done some really great things here too" that I started to cry. We discussed what and how I would tell the youth, when my last day would be and more details. And then we went on our merry way.
Basically they gave me a two weeks notice. Except my "last day" was scheduled for a day that I was going to be out of town. I had already planned a trip that weekend to go see Dan. Funny how things work huh? Luckily it was the perfect little getaway for me to just get the heck out of dodge for a while. However.... about 2 days before I left I got super sick. I think it was the flu. The night before I flew out I was up with a fever of 102. I still went to work and after an hour I tried to see if I could leave early but we had no one to cover me, so I had to work through it all. I told myself if I could just get to the airport I would be fine.
Luckily, Dan had to work both Thursday and Friday (I flew in on a Wednesday night) so that gave me lots of time to sleep and get better. We had a great trip of just hanging out with each other... Though the time is never enough. I really didn't want to come back and face everything that was heading my way....
When I got back, my boss at the preschool asked me to come in and chat. Turns out, I wasn't exactly good at keeping my secret (I hadn't told anyone at that job about everything that was going on with my church job). And people were starting to notice that I was unhappy but the only thing they could come up with was that being in a long distance relationship sucks (which it does--- but there was much more going on in my life). We had a long chat (mostly me in tears...) and I mentioned I had kind of noticed that perhaps my meds needed to be reassessed because I felt like I was being numbed out... yet again. I promised her and myself that I would try to be a better teacher and I would make an appointment with my doctor to figure out my meds.
My next task.... Get through my last day at the church. Something I was most definitely not looking forward to. I managed to make it through the day pretty well. It was such a busy day I guess I didn't really have time to be sad.
|Last day with my amazing youth|
|Some of my favorites|
The first two weeks I went home as they happened to be Palm Sunday and Easter so I got to go back to the church I grew up in and see people I hadn't been able to see in the last 3 years. So that was nice... But it was also hard having to explain to people why they were seeing me again after my 3 year hiatus.
To be honest, I felt like I failed. Failed the children. Failed the youth. Failed those who believed in me. Failed myself. Failed my family. Failed my grandpa. Would he be disappointed in me if he were still alive? That's been a really hard one.
So I went back to the doctor and we decided it was time to go off the stupid zoloft. It was just numbing me to everything and it was time to feel again. Even Dan said he missed "emotional Jessica". (hahaha) I would stay on Welbutrin (it's a mood booster) but see how going off Zoloft works.
It's worked great! Within a week of going off of it people started noticing a difference in me.
|Hanging out with friend Nick|
I've also had time to go grocery shopping and do food prep again. I've been able to go to the gym a few times (not quite what I want to). I'm focusing more on my health right now and have lost about 5 pounds. I have also been working on getting my house in order. For years I have wanted to start decluttering and just haven't had time. Well I have time now and have been working super hard on it!
Truth be told, not long before all this happened I was journaling about how I was getting slightly burned out on church. I longed for a day when I could sleep in on a Sunday or not spend it at church from 8-5. I could go if I wanted to. Or not go if I didn't want to. And if I did go, go and then leave. Go do normal people things. Did I love my job? Absolutely. But doing that schedule will definitely take it's toll on you.... Especially when it is not your only job.
Not long after all of this happened I had a coworker quit rather unexpectedly. So my part time (11-5) position went to a full time (9-6) until we find a replacement.... which we haven't yet.
So it's not like I have a TON of free time but at least I do on nights and weekends. Since moving my schedule, I haven't been able to do my morning walks with Laura and Bodee so that is a big bummer but I'm hoping we can return to that soon now that it is Spring... And maybe the weather will cooperate.
Oh and just to make things interesting.... I currently have strep. Awesome. It is painful and miserable and exhausting.
That seems to be all of the big changes in my life the last few months. Remember at the beginning when my mom said it would be for the better? Well it has turned out pretty good. I am really enjoying having weekends to myself again. Do I miss the kids, youth, and other people I worked with at the church? Of course I do.... But the good thing is that those people have my phone number and know how to get a hold of me. Do I wish I had done things differently? Yes.... I wish I had the time to dedicate to that job. But it wasn't enough of an income to devote all my time to and I suppose because of that the job suffered. Plus I lived over an hour away, so it's not like I could be there in a flash. I guess I did the best I could with the circumstances. I hear they have officially replaced me. I hope she grows to love the people as much as I did and she treats them as well as they deserve to be treated. I just hope she does a better job than I was able to. In the mean time I am working on taking care of me and the important things in my life.