In my previous post, “A Loss Unexpected, Part I,” I shared a growing sense of loss, that I need to figure out what’s been lost, and how to recreate myself to alleviate the losses. I mentioned I’ve lost the hugely important ability to be easily social, and have lost the bubbly person, the one who always has a smile. She’s gone away and I want to find her again. But wait–there’s more!
I didn’t sign my contract for next school year–I’m no longer employed. It’s official. Not only have a lost employment by choice, but I just lost my chosen profession, at my chosen high school. This school is a challenging school to teach at because many of the students live lives I cannot even imagine, they don’t have parental support that they desperately need, and many come from severely low-income homes. My class room provided a safe haven, I gave them unconditional love, and I impacted many young people’s lives in a positive way, creating a ripple effect of goodness and love. Except for the few who chose to ruin the “nice” teacher. Over the past ten years of teaching there, I honestly can’t tell you how many kids told me they came to school just so they could see me, visiting between classes if I didn’t teach them that day, coming back after their semester was over… just to see me and feel loved. Loved just because they are who they are. Honestly, they were my babies, waking me up at night as I’d worry about them, thinking about ways I could help. They’d share life issues, learning problems, all sorts of challenges and frustrations with me… I was their school mom. I’ve lost that feeling of usefulness. I’m also a burden financially–I don’t have income, but cost money to “operate.” That’s pretty heavy too.
I’ve also lost the luxury of being known as a hugger–I can’t hug most people anymore because of their clothes detergent, dryer sheets, shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, deodorant, lotion, self-tanning product, perfume, or cologne. And I am a hugger. This is a huge loss in my life, not being able to hug people. Those students I was talking about that would find me usually needed a hug too. But now I can’t. I see former students, as I live in the district I taught in, and we automatically and gleefully head towards each other to share a hug until I remember I can’t. It’s always a shock. Still. Our world is overly perfumed with artificial scents. Essential oils don’t seem to bother me a bit; it’s the fake ones, created in labs, and there are 1000’s of them, so I can’t be treated for just a few with allergy shots.
Friends and family are actually apprehensive to be around me because they worry if some new product they’re using will cause a reaction. A dear friend asked if the gum she had in her car was ok, because it was artificially flavored. That seemed fine–apparently food scents don’t hit me the same way as smell-good scents. But to realize that people feel uneasy being around me is rather devastating. I’m a people person, forced to be a semi-hermit. My mother in-law let me know that she bought some unscented shampoo for everyone coming to the family reunion to use. Bless her heart. Shampoo is actually low on my list of triggers. If I’m in the vicinity after a shower was taken with a trigger shampoo, then yes, bad news. But there are so many things in our world today!! My vets office is almost too fragrant. We’ll see how that goes today when I take the two pups for their shots. If it’s bad, they’ve already said they’ll bring the dogs out to me and I can wait in my car. We had to change my son’s dentist because they wouldn’t stop using plug-in air fresheners. Here’s something they didn’t apparently believe; if you’ve used it in the past week, and haven’t fully aired out the space, it’s probably still in the air and on the cushions and in the carpet, particles getting sent back into the air as people sit and walk, for me to have reactions with. I’m unable to go into fragrant stores, have to avoid aisles of, and sometimes the aisles next to, the detergents and scented cleaners and air fresheners. Think about this the next time you go into a store.
This challenge is almost unfathomable. No wonder I’m feeling loss. And fear and dread and constant apprehension. Will it get better?