Giving away the guilt: Slice of Life

Giving away the guilt: Slice of Life There's a Book for That

In the last weeks of school I was smiling. Often. Such a decision to leave after staying year after year. I had grieved months ago. I was ready to move on. Ready, while at the same time, firmly attached.

“But aren’t you – well . . . sad?”

I was asked this endlessly. I should have expected this question over and over and over again – being in the middle of leaving a place where parts of me are woven into the walls. Where parts of it are layered onto my skin, like extra pigment, invisible but discernible. Where particular children hold weight in my heart and have carved out acres in my memory.

Working in my school was about so much. Showing up. Bearing witness. Keeping people safe. Caring deeply.

I felt like every day I was handed leaf skeletons in a roaring windstorm and expected to keep them intact. I moved through days knowing that fragile pieces would break and tear away. I spent much time reattaching, repairing damage and having faith that we could heal a shattered mess. And then do more.

Teaching was a part of what I did every day. Leader. Guide. Mentor. Yes, these things. But more often I was metaphorical items from the workshop. The glue. A level. A clamp. Quick drying cement.

I carried stories, tricks and little bits of magic. Charms to help a silent child share. A broken child heal. An empty child begin to fill up.

Responsibility. Urgency. Weight. These things nudged me, yanked me, shoved me through each day. At day’s end, I sifted through the moments and picked some to polish. To place on a table so the sun would find them in its warm, hazy, sure afternoon light.

Leaving is not just finding another place. It is walking away from all of this. It has meant grappling with wanting to feel the happy and light of what is new while I know I am needed where I was.

But I am giving away this guilt. Stepping out of a long gown heavy with layers and gathers. There is a noticeable thud when it hits the floor. I step out one foot at a time and stand firmly on solid ground. Sure. I let the layers float next to me before they drift away. I give my blessing. I have honoured this robe of time and history. I acknowledge that it has power to haunt me. Fiercely. I have accepted its strength. It has conceded that I will let it go. Pardoned me. Forgiven me. Letting me go too. We are gently, but certainly, releasing each other.

I am beginning to be elsewhere.

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

48 thoughts on “Giving away the guilt: Slice of Life

  1. i felt the same way. I was really just done, knowing that i was switching grades and moving into another classroom, another team, by the beginning of june i was totally done and ready to move on!

  2. There is power in acknowledgement: the acknowledgement of our feelings, the acknowledgement of our strengths and our weaknesses. When we sit with what we are experiencing, we validate and support ourselves. You’ve done that beautifully in this post.

    Your next job may look and even feel different from your old one, but you will still be you, still holding and healing and caring. There is important work to be done in every classroom.

    Good for you for embracing the change and going where you need and want to grow!

  3. Your use of metaphors is spectacular. I am with you. Teaching is indelible but change is inevitable. Somehow you must rectify each.

  4. What a powerful, beautifully written post. I admire your courage –so evident in all that you have done and in your ability to let go of the guilt and move away and in all that you will surely do. Thanks for sharing your honest and moving words.

  5. There is an art to knowing when to leave – and this is what you’ve practiced, Carrie. In some ways, as I remember your posts from the last school year, you began preparing for your leaving some time ago. Now it’s time for something new…a new beginning, a new place where you are needed and where you will leave your mark.

  6. I have to echo the other commentors- you create beautiful metaphors. All the teachers reading are moved by your words. I am sharing this with a few colleagues who have made similar decisions to leave a place.
    I wonder if you might choose a metaphor and create a poem out of it.

  7. I left a job last year where I felt very much as you do. I needed to move on and it was hard to talk to colleagues/friends about my feelings because I couldn’t figure out how to do it without making them feel bad. I am so much happier, although I am still uncomfortable when telling former colleagues about how much I love my new job. You’ve written so beautifully many of the things I was feeling. I hope you achieve the same joy and regeneration I have found in my new job.

  8. Beautiful imagery for a powerful change in your life. I am confident that your new path will continue to bring inspiration and growth!

  9. Letting go the guilt, but keeping those moments polished, ready to take out when you choose is a big step, Carrie. Your beautiful words are a lesson of healing for all of us. Hugs always for you as you travel on.

  10. Leaving is so hard since it isn’t just about physically walking away. Your heart will remain there for a long time, won’t it? But soon you’ll have a new place to be both physically and emotionally.

  11. This is so beautifully written! This paragraph is a perfect way to describe our jobs as teachers: “Teaching was a part of what I did every day. Leader. Guide. Mentor. Yes, these things. But more often I was metaphorical items from the workshop. The glue. A level. A clamp. Quick drying cement.” Thank you for sharing!

  12. This is so amazingly, beautifully written. It gave me chills. I know you’ll find another place where we can see the joy on the faces of those you’ll touch, just like we did before in all the former photos!

  13. As I left my classroom of 17 years, the memories of students and teacher and friends and all that is what a classroom should be washed over me like a warm wave on the beach. I’d gone through the “what the heck” stages, and in the end, walking out was bitter sweet, but I knew that I was going to continue doing good things in my new classroom too. Good luck in where you end of up next and know you’ll do great things there too. 🙂

  14. Your writing is art. You have this ability to look deep inside you and express your inner world so eloquently. You also set an example on how to grapple change intentionally. Wishing that you get to breathe and wonder and laugh a lot this summer.

  15. Your writing puts me right in your head and heart. I hope you have some time this summer to just be. Your students past and future are lucky to have a teacher like you who gives it her all.

  16. How fortunate are those you have already touched and more so for those who have yet to know your caring, loving, heartfelt ways. Bless you on your journey…
    As a retired teacher, I have much on which to look back; yet, you’re just beginning…and what a phenomenal career path you have begun!

  17. This school, these kids, these memories will always hold a special place in your heart. I know…I did the same thing years ago and felt the same guilt. When you least expect it, that heavy gown will creep back to you-but it won’t be haunting, you’ll wrap it around your shoulders with a smile on your face.

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