Saturday, December 3, 2011

Contributing member of society

A woman I met who used to be a teacher and had to stop work because of a brain injury asked what gave me a sense of identity now? what made me feel like a contributing member of society?

This was my response:
I still sometimes think I was an awesome teacher even after injury. I left kicking and screaming. It is only after I saw the relief on the faces of my husband and family that I realized how much I was spinning my wheels. I could stay in my classroom working until 8 or 9 at night (no sense of time anymore), then take work home, and still accomplish nothing. I was lucky I could think on my feet and that the kids liked me but I could not plan lessons, have the correct materials and papers ready before class, or work with my colleagues. I thought my boss, my co-workers, and my assistant were plotting to drive me crazy with their accusations of my misdeeds. I still wake up in the middle of the night kicking or yelling in anger.

I am working hard to let go, just for my own sake. Being on disability and working on just being, feels pretty good right now. As far as identity, that is why I fought so hard to keep teaching. It defined me and it was what made me the happiest. I could not imagine losing that. After 22 years, I was confident in my abilities. I loved the consistency of the school year, a new start every fall.

Slowly, I have begun to realize how much I needed to be needed. I loved the satisfaction of seeing my students grow and learn, the appreciation, the praise, and the positive feedback from the parents.

Someone gave me some excellent advice recently. She said, "Your career is like a boyfriend who broke up with you. You keep trying to figure out why he doesn't love you anymore, what you did wrong, and who you are without him." That analogy has given me such a feeling of relief. I am still someone without that external association.

Am I a contributing member of society anymore? Those are just words.

My value, YOUR value does not come from a job! Sure, I have MANY days that I never get dressed or move from in front of the TV. I am working on building a routine, exercising, and taking better care of myself. I am here and I matter to a small number of people, my husband, my 25 year old daughter, and my mother. Working to be well matters to them. It is very important to just a few and that is enough for now. Screw society!

1 comment:

Henk van der Wilt said...

Of course you are a contributing member of society, we all are in whatever capacity we are in. Being totally disabled doesn't change that. Just by being disabled you offer others a path to their own compassion, their feelings about others that are less fortunate. You give them insight on how lucky they are to be healthy. Naturally there those instincts within all of us, but only by interacting with the less fortunate do we truly realize how well we have it. I am disabled from my CA bleed as well, but still see myself very fortunate compared to others. I have taken up the challenge to continue to educate, no longer in a classroom, but in the world around me. People need to be aware of this disorder called Cavernous Angioma, and who better to do it than me. I refuse to be invisible, I will let the world know where I am, and they will see me.

Good luck in your VISIBLE future.