This last month has been a whirlwind of health issues, emotional trials and so much more.
Growing up, everyone knew I had CF…friends, family, neighbors and teachers, even my bosses. You would think that means that I would easily be able to talk about CF with anyone these days. When I went to college, I didn't want everyone to know. I didn't want to be judged or coddled. I didn't want people to treat me differently because I had a chronic disease. I wanted to prove that I could keep up with the work load, that I could earn my degree and that I could do ANYTHING everyone else was doing (with little to no intervention). This worked for quite a while. But somewhere things changed. I graduated in May of 2006 with the intention of going back that fall to complete my student teaching. I found out right before the start of the school year, that the school I was to do my student teaching at had a student with CF that would have been close to my assigned classroom. In a very quick few moments, I and my cooperating teacher, and my college supervisor decided to switch schools. If this had not happened in this dramatic way, my life may have been quite different.
Most importantly...my college supervisor would not have known about my CF, she would not have blabbed to the whole faculty, she would not have told prospective employers. This supervisor is the one who made me lose trust in my employers. She was supposed to be a person I could turn to and confide in about my disease. It turns out, that wasn't the case. She told prospective employers that I had a disability, ruining my chances to work in that school. In all honesty…I think by doing this, she made me distrust a lot of my supervisors over the years. She made me even more scared to reveal my disability/disease/condition to anyone.
I am not saying I regret any of what happened, after all…its made me who I am today. And I know everything happens for a reason. Teaching was not the job for me.
You are probably all saying "what does that have to do with today?" Ever since then, I have shied away from talking about my CF, unless you are a close friend or relative. It has made me less trustworthy of authority and at this point, I think it is starting to hinder my job and my ability to move up in my current position.
I have been with my current job for 1.5 years now. At first I loved it, loved the people, love what I do. I am good at what I do, so how can I not be happy? I think deep down, I wanted to trust my newfound coworker (friends), but in the back of my mind I couldn't forget what happened all those years ago with my college supervisor. I found a friend in my new job and I confided in her about my CF…but it still took more than a year and she is only an equal (same position), she is not a supervisor. We have a lot in common and I just felt a connection. And finally it didn't backfire on me! I was shocked. All she did was care and she wanted to help me. She asked questions, she acted motherly when it was needed, but she was a realist at the same time. She didn't baby me, she didn't coddle, but she was there when I needed someone to vent to. And she didn't hoard me with questions, we still concentrated on work and we helped each other.
When I started to get sicker this fall, I knew someone else needed to know. And again, I was afraid. I didn't want my job to be in jeopardy, I didn't want sympathy. So I finally told my boss! It was so freeing to finally have it all out there. I knew in my heart that he would do anything to protect my job and to be the manager I needed as someone with a chronic illness. He had seen my ability in the job and he knew that the CF wasn't going to hold me back. He wanted to help me. I seriously, could not stop smiling after I told him. It was incredibly cathartic. I finally had a supervisor on my side and I knew instinctively that he would be there for me.
Less than a week later, that all changed when he got let go from the company and I was in the beginning stages of a CF exacerbation. I was/am still heartbroken. It is a long story and I don't want to give "press time" to the people who caused this firing. But again, I was in a position I wasn't ready for. I needed to take time off for my health and again didn't have anyone I felt a connection with that I could confide in. Whats a girl to do? I went back to my one friend from the office who was still there and she helped me through. But she wasn't a supervisor, she was/is my equal. She wasn't going to be able to protect me and help me the way our boss would have. I ended up telling someone solely out of need. I was going to be admitted to the hospital and needed time off. I spoke with her about protecting my job and that I wanted to come back to work with a clean slate…able to help the office recover and become great again.
I am currently back to work part time until next week and I am still struggling emotionally with all thats gone on. Work is not as enjoyable as it used to be, we don't joke around and again we don't know who we can trust. I know that I will be the bigger person and put on my happy face, but it is extremely hard. I am a very forgiving person but right now because of what went down with my boss…I don't feel like I can trust everyone. As I said, its a complicated situation, but I do want to be better and I want to be a leader in my office, but not everyone sees me that way. I feel like its an us against them mentality and I don't know how to make the others see that I am good and I am successful. I know it in my heart, so why do they need to question it?
I know this may not all make sense if anyone is reading this, but I just needed to vent. So this is whats been happening. It will get easier, I just have to keep telling myself that. Once I can get a full night sleep (without having to do IV's every few hours), I think I will be better able to tackle silly "work drama". I am grateful to still have a job, to still be able to work, to still get out of bed every day and love my life. And after all…its almost the holiday season, I love the holidays and I can and I will find enjoyment in the little things in my life.