I was talking with my mother the other day about praying for immediate and tangible results. This isn’t a prayer tactic I often engage in. For that matter, neither does my mother. Starting in the early years of CCD I was taught not to approach prayer like a heavenly vending machine. It is an interesting question to ask yourself: is there a time when I can ask God to be on my schedule?
Yesterday I was teaching vocabulary. I have had a dismal school year. I have had trouble emotionally connecting to my students. As hokey as that sounds, it does make a difference in early elementary school if you care about your students or not. The administration has been in flux. There has been a pervasive lack of communication, leading to unnecessary squabbles and a shit ton of resentment. I’ve come close to quitting on multiple occasions. The worst part is that I have closed myself off from my friends because I am afraid of boring them with my endless complaining about work. The more I closed myself off, the more I felt like work was all I had in my life, and the more I hated work. See that cycle spin!
I have wondered time and again how I have found myself in this position: angry, alone, and hating my job. This isn’t the first time I’ve held such a view of my life. But now I ask myself not, “what did I do wrong” but rather “is what I did so wrong that this is the result?”
Yesterday, in the middle of the vocabulary lesson my AHM came into my room. He had with him a woman about my age. One of our staff members is leaving at the end of the school year, and he is already interviewing for her replacement. He introduced me to the woman.
“And I believe you attended the same graduate program.”
Who to the what now?
Turns out, this woman and I were in the same graduate program at the same time.
I do not remember her. I had a vague impression that she was familiar, and I can easily picture her in my grad classes, but I have no memory of her at all. As my AHM tried in vain to jog my memory using dates I became acutely aware that there was only one explanation for my lapse, and it was not for public consumption.
Of course I don’t remember her. I was drunk.
There are parts of my life that are hazy at best, but really are just missing. Months that passed, but all impressions of those times were drowned in cheap wine and sometimes really expensive vodka.
I expected a backlash of shame. I thought that as it sunk in throughout the day that I had faced a person who was simply erased from my experience I would be overcome with regret for how I lived my life. I wasn’t. In fact, the opposite happened.
I thanked God for the immediate and tangible answer to my prayer. I don’t need to be angry. I don’t need to be alone. I don’t need to hate my job. I am not being punished for dropping out of grad school, moving to a new place without a job, and basically fucking up my life for quite a while. I’m not. I’m really okay.
Here was this woman, who by my understanding had lived out the plan I had made for my own life. She had finished her master’s degree in the program we both attended. She had applied and been received into the PhD program that I had planned to enroll in. And she is applying to work at the same school where I already have five school years of experience. A place where I am established, have built an excellent employment record, and am respected by (some if not all) of colleagues.
I could have ended up in exactly the same place as I already am.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But maybe, just maybe, none of those mistakes irrevocably derailed the course of my life.
As soon as I sent my students to music class I texted a friend who had been in grad school with me (and this other woman, apparently). I was shocked to find out that he had changed his phone number. And there was the other side of it. I didn’t fuck up a perfect future of success and satisfaction, but I do need to handle my shit.
(4 Years, 6 Months, and 3 Days Sober)