I think I figured out why seeing my long, long friend and hearing from my high school friend on Sunday morning caused me to cry. It really did feel like sadness, but I knew it was happiness. It was because they really know me. They know who I am and where I have been. They know what I have done.
Since I changed jobs in January 2012, my narrative changed dramatically. I was suddenly an “older” woman. I suddenly didn’t have good computer skills. I didn’t have a good memory. I was a pushover and allowed people to trounce all over me and my deadlines. No one thought I was smart, clever, quick, or even pretty! They did see my humor and the evidence of God’s grace in my life – shown by my ability to show up for work every day with a smile on my face after having been humiliated the day before, even when I was so suicidal I didn’t know how I could draw another breath. In other words, to them, I was pitiful. Believe me, I felt pitiful. A waste of space, a waste of a paycheck. God’s grace got me through this, but that is another story, the one I have been telling on a daily basis for the last 17 months.
When I saw my friend on Sunday, I looked at him and saw a young man who lost his license for five years – in sobriety – for being so angry at another car in front of him on the highway, he drove into it to push it off the road. I respected him tremendously because for those 5 years, he rode his bicycle. He never once drove. That is a rare man. Once again, I digress…..
He saw in me a woman who was 42 and had just been homeless, and was trying to scratch her way off of disability (for depression) and into the workplace. (Really, who even does that?) When I got out of my first ever college class at the age of 43, I called him and told him all about it. I remember driving by my now Alma Mater and telling him every single time – “That is going to be my Alma Mater.” I didn’t know how, it is a school you actually have to be accepted into and it is very very pricey. I called it a “stretch” goal, because it was SO out of my reach. It seemed like a pipe dream – because it truly WAS a pipe dream.
He knew me when I gave up my car as the only way I could possibly pay off the child support I owed. Maybe I was stubborn, but I didn’t call people for rides, I wanted to really do it – really be a person without an automobile. I went to work and meetings and school either by bus or bicycle. Well, shoot, Andy knew I could do that, he was the one who didn’t drive for 5 years! That was difficult, but it was doable. I saved a LOT of money by not having a car.
He knew me when I went for my interview (on the bus) for a job as an administrative assistant 19 years ago. For the same employer I have now. I was so thrilled to have gotten that job. I knew I would make it. I was making $1,500 a month! Are you kidding me? $10. an hour! I was rolling in money (and had no idea how to handle it).
He knew me when I went to my interview at what is now my Alma Mater. And when I got my acceptance letter – which is still on my bulletin board! And my first “A” in a class, and my second, and third, etc. When I graduated with honors! me! When I went back and got my master’s degree.
When he walked into my current house for the first time, he was amazed. He kept saying he couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t either. It is now just ordinary, but it wasn’t then. I owned a beautiful (small, but pretty) home in suburbia – just 9 years after being a homeless woman on social security disability.
I advanced in my career. I was seen as someone who was competent, smart, approachable, a great teacher, and great manager, and funny – oh, not to mention humble — doesn’t sound like it in this post though!
And then I got another job, and everything changed. After a few months, I began to believe the new narrative. It was horrifying.
Enough of that – here is today: I am going to a meeting that will be part of my NEW job. I started going to that meeting in 1996. I only missed 17 of them since then, and that was when I was at my “other” job. I will chair the meeting next month, so I want to see what is happening before I jump in. Hence I will be there today. I can’t think of anything better in the world. I will see some of my favorite people in the universe, my favorite psychiatrist and friend and former boss, and many others. I guess I better get ready.
I apologize if this post seems self-congratulatory. I just need to remember who I am. And who I am is NOT a doddering old senile fool.
And I also want to thank the wonderful readers who came by yesterday. Some of you made some very generous offers of help. I really really appreciate that. I am blessed beyond anything I could ever have deserved or “worked” for.
God is truly so good.