A lot of you have asked about work and how it’s going. I’m sure some of you are wondering why I decided to make a change. Why would I leave a job that let me work from home with a company that allowed me to take grieving for Noah at my own pace? Why after taking on graduate school would I decide that full-time work was also a good idea? So I thought I’d take a minute to share my journey.
In January, I went back to part-time work from home while working on my first graduate class. It’s what I could handle at the time. Over the winter and into spring, I had developed this social anxiety of sorts–some people (like me) might even call it setting boundaries. Losing Noah was so devastating that every step toward resuming ‘normal’ life was and is still monumental. Getting out of bed. Being out in public. Talking to other parents. Getting dinner ready. Being a good parent to Gavin. A good wife to the hubby. I take on a little at a time and if it’s too much, I back off. I am still very much concealed in a safety bubble that I’ve created for myself. I’m not sure that will ever change.
The first day back at work in January, I cried after a conference call. I cried after every conference call, actually. The people on the other end were normal. I wasn’t normal. I’m broken and they knew it. Not because I wasn’t professional or because they somehow drew attention to my pain, but because everyone in my small company knew what had happened over the summer. I felt watched. I felt awkward. I felt alone on an island even when I was surrounded by support. Going back to work pointed out how far away I was from who I used to be.
I tried to pick up where I left off and really had no intention of leaving my company. The plan was to stay through graduate school. Then one day, I got a job alert email from a company I’d been eyeing since we moved here. When I clicked the link, I found the job tailor-made for me. I knew I’d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t apply so I quickly updated my resume and shot it off to the recruiter without much thought. I didn’t have other resumes circulating. I wasn’t “looking.” In fact, it was the only announcement in the email that seemed even mildly interesting. Two hours later, I got a call from the recruiter. It was a Friday afternoon. What just happened?
I immediately regretted my decision to take the interview. I panicked realizing that me going back to work was NOT part of the plan. For those of you who know what planners Dan and I are, you could see how this could cause angst even under the best circumstances and honestly we’ve had a year of exhausting “big decisions” and this just seemed too hard to imagine. After two years of working from home part time, what if I’d lost my edge? What if switching industries was too much? What would it mean for my family if I wasn’t there every second of every day for Gavin–two feet from his school, ready to rescue at a moment’s notice? After talking it over with my boys, I decided I would go into the interview with an open mind and open heart.
On the way to the interview, I prayed. I talked to Noah. I fretted. I called friends including Tiff. When I got off the phone, I knew whatever path was meant to be would become clear, one way or the other. And after the most stressful interview of my life, it did–or so I thought. Who knew, “What brings you to our company?” could be such a loaded question? If only these people had an idea of what my life had looked like this past year. My answer went something like this (keeping in mind that this is a faith-based healthcare system whose core value is to treat people with human kindness):
“This past year, I was in a situation where we had to rely on an entire team of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, etc., to handle the situation. I know how important it is to treat patients and their families with kindness. I’m here because I believe in the mission and know first-hand what it’s like to need that. And if I can somehow help facilitate that through my skillset, that’s what I’d like to do.”
I meant every word. I didn’t cry, though the lump in my throat was enormous. I maintained my cool and asked a lot of questions of my would-be managers. I didn’t feel great about the interview. I thought they could see right through my fear to my broken heart, that I’d be the trainwreck they weren’t willing to take on. I resigned myself to God’s plan and knew this wasn’t it. But the interview sparked memories of my old self. The professional. The leader. The creative. The digital dork. After long discussions at home, we all agreed that it might actually be a good thing for all of us if I went back to work. So, I started looking in earnest for local jobs that looked interesting and started selectively applying.
Over the coming weeks there would be another, viable opportunity that was a lot sexier than health care. Media. But as I went through the process, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it and promised myself to keep an open mind and open heart. Then out of the blue the healthcare recruiter called me for a second interview. I was shocked. The job that was surely not the right fit wanted me to come back. I did. It was in the room with the senior manager that I realized it was where I should be. Within a few minutes, I was comfortable enough to be honest–in an interview–about Noah, which I NEVER thought I would do. And I only mentioned it to set boundaries from the very beginning that while I would work my ass off for their team, my family will always come first.
Over the next few weeks, as I weighed the possibilities of both opportunities, doors seemed to keep closing for one and opening for the other. I listened and for the first time had a sense of peace knowing that the path was crystal clear. Sometimes the God thing doesn’t make sense until it does. I eventually took the position with the non-profit, faith-faith based hospital system. I’m in the safe place I need right now. There is a chapel down the hall from my cube. Every morning at 9 a.m. one of the Sisters of Mercy offers a prayer in her sweet Irish accent over the PA system. Meetings start with a moment of reflection of some sort. People are genuine. The security guard greets everyone with a smile and knows each employee in the system office by first name–including me. I’m taking it one day at a time.
I still cry every morning. I have elected for now to keep my story private so that I can build my professional reputation unskewed. Every day, I endure people asking about my life and manage to keep my heartbreak just under the surface. Admittedly, I’ve had to sneak away to the bathroom to stave off a panic attack or hide the tears. I’m consciously focusing on the work and not the drama–because you know working with five other women in a department, there will always be drama. *face palm* But I’m okay. The boys and I are adjusting. I’m trying to embrace the change. But I know there will never be a day that I don’t wish it took something different to get me here.
One other thing I’ve realized is that my husband and my son are amazing beyond measure. For nearly a year, they’ve been doing this shit daily. I cannot imagine how hard this has been for both of them. I had nearly six months at home to grieve in silence. Every day, their heartbreak has been just below the surface. Gavin is the strongest kid I know and I am so, so proud of him. And the hubby, who many people look at as a hero? Well, he’s a hero to me for an entirely different reason. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.
Happy belated birthday, my love, even though I know you won’t read this. I cannot imagine spending half of my life with anyone else. Thank you for always being there for me. Loving me. Supporting me. You are my heart.