One year ago this month, I resigned under duress from a Director of Education position where my supervisor (a “spiritual leader”) ran a one-sided, silo-ish, chaotic congregation - using her old fashioned human resource framework. I spoke up where I saw dysfunctional approaches and put words to a long time conflict and she saw this as insubordination. Here we were, a liberal, loving faith tradition and she was using quasi-military tactics to try and control me so she wouldn’t look inept.
I was in the middle of a career transition and 58 years old when I got let go (for all intents and purposes, that is what happened). I was relieved to not be working there anymore but knew I would be in for a rough ride. I’d just moved to a part of the country where the vocation I had been transitioning to was not well represented. I moved to help my family get through a great loss, knowing I would be sacrificing a lot. I ended a 17 year relationship by moving (one that should have ended, if I’m honest). I took myself away from the kind of lifestyle I loved. Finally, I gave up a lot of security. Now here I am back in a conservative environment/state where I can’t find meaningful work and when I do, I don’t make the final cut. It’s clearly age discrimination and in truth, I lack depth of experience after a career transition. I have immense insight and many transferable skills ... so I spent the last year trying very hard to re-invent myself with new consulting and subcontractor work and even substitute teaching. When the pandemic hit, it all bit the dust.
Recently, out of shear necessity, I returned to my prior profession which I left because it’s physically grueling and I cannot possibly perform well, much past a few more years. I have no plan except to continue providing care for my elderly parent who is barely hanging on mentally, considering she’s a person with all her cognitive skills in tact but uses a wheelchair and lives in a locked down assisted living center. They’ve been quarantined for two back to back 14 day stints with no promise of letting visitors in anytime soon. Three or more days a week, I visit by window and take her treats, needed items, reading materials and try to teach her how to use an older iPad I supplied her with so she can stay connected to the outside world. In return, I get free rent living in her house (my childhood home.)
I hate my life with every breath I take. I have lived a full life with many cool experiences but I didn’t think it would end by moving back here. Of course this year has been extraordinarily difficult... unprecedented!!
It is my hope that all of you take this virus seriously and continue to wear masks and take precautions. It is my hope that Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s legacy does not get completely undone. And finally, it is my hope that we (older, younger, Black, White, conservative or progressive) learn how to respect each other and live in greater harmony.
Every good thing that can happen, often times starts with one person or one gesture and then expands to others. Just keep that in mind and make a promise to humanity to live empathetically and with grace and dignity ... because you simply never know the details of someone’s backstory.