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The Message: Letting My Husband Lead

September 20, 2017

I got the phone message on a Friday in late May. “We know what you did” was the message that I heard, even if those aren’t words that were used. My body went numb, unable to process. I immediately called back, trying explain, but was sent to voice mail. I texted. No response.

The numbness gave way to my heart starting to race and thoughts of doom. I was going to get fired. Or at least my job would be serious hell from here on out.

My sin: I had applied for another job and my boss knew.

I was on my way to surf with my husband and kids when I get the message. I tried to breath through the heart racing and push down the tears that threatened to rise up. After 9 years at my job, I knew how disloyalty was treated. I had taken every precaution when feeling out other jobs to keep my search secret. I did not tell even my closest friends at work. I checked the boxes on the application that my current employer could not be contacted, yet still they knew.

Nausea began to wash over me while sitting on my surf board. The water usually calms me but now I just wanted out. Out of the water. Out of my own skin.

My heart would not stop racing. The thoughts that I would lose my job and put my family in financial ruin went on through the night. At midnight, I caved and took anti anxiety medication. This school year was the first year that I had needed to seek medication. I had two major anxiety attacks. The first one was triggered by start of the school year stress and lasted two weeks. Two weeks without more than a few hours a sleep a night. My family was suffering. I was unable to parent. My husband was shouldered with his full time job, caring for the house and kids and trying desperately to help me. A friend gave me a Xanax and for the first time in weeks, I slept. Xanax is a heavy medication and one not to be used lightly, but it worked. It turned off the racing thoughts and I slept. I slept so heavy that for most of the next day I was unfunctional, but at least I slept. I vowed not to use it except for in an emergency. I ended up needing it again in January for another work crisis and now, in May, at a time when I should be wrapping up the school year and prepping for a relaxing summer, I needed medication again.

The next morning, my husband found me crying on the closet floor.

“They are going to punish me,” I said. “They know that applied for another job and they will make my life hell.”

His eyes widened, in a look of almost shock at the ridiculousness of my statement. What kind of place punishes an employee for looking at other options? But then, he narrowed his gaze in an acceptance that yes, they would make my life hell. And his. And our kids.

He has called my job an abusive relationship for years. Emotional decisions are a norm at my workplace and many of them had caused me problems; hurting me, my students or others that I care about. I would cry and panic at these, but then, the admin would be so nice to me that I would stay. My husband had been begging me to look for other work for years; to stop the abusive cycle that was permeating our lives.

Now, he was done. He pulled me off the closet floor, pulled me in close and said with resolve, “You are done. You have to quit.”

He swore to work more hours and do what needed to be done to make ends meet, but he made the decision there that this was over.

I could not have loved him more in that moment.

I quit that Monday.

 

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