On March 10th, 2023, I hit a critical threshold in my recovery from people-pleasing and codependent tendencies. Knowing my beliefs and values weren’t going to be universally accepted among my colleagues during professional development at work, I still stepped into my power and spoke my truth in a very direct, public way.
Something in my body knew nothing would be the same after that conversation. Prior to my chance to speak, my leg shook like crazy. My heart beat rapidly. I couldn’t focus.
I excused myself to take deep breaths and watch the snow fall through the school entrance. I channeled my “Rebecca-from-Ted-Lasso” energy and made myself ferocious in the bathroom, silently roaring at myself in the mirror.
I quit shrinking; I made myself big to advocate for the change our students need and deserve. And for the first time in almost a decade at my job, I didn’t know where I stood with every person in the room.
Immediately afterwards, I felt shell-shocked. My mind didn’t know what to tell my body to feel. I went to debrief with my soul sister work wife and ended up sobbing hysterically. The breakdown was about so much more than humane, equitable grading practices – it was knowing I lost my most coveted survival mechanism at work, and that I could never go back to shrinking myself to prioritize the comfort of other adults.
After carrying me through the most intense stretch of my breakdown, she shepherded me to another beloved colleague who helped me unravel and re-ravel the chaos in my brain and body. She listened non-judgmentally and helped me recognize the feeling that came up: anger triggered by a feeling of urgency.
Anger? That feeling I never let myself feel for long before slapping a happy face sticker on it and sweeping it under a rug? What was it doing at work?
I’ve always been triggered by others’ showy anger and couldn’t believe that mine had made some of my colleagues that I love, respect, and admire uncomfortable. I couldn’t shove it back in the box though. She’d been freed from her shackles, and I knew we would be walking side-by-side for a long time.
Wiping tears away, I asked my colleague where she puts her anger when it becomes too much. She simply opened her palms wide and simply said, “In God’s hands.”
I stopped crying and set down my lovingly prepared cup of calm tea. Nothing ever resonated so deeply in my soul before.
Since that conversation, that’s what I’ve done. When my anger takes over, I cry. I find a quiet place, get on my knees, and beg God to carry it for me before we burn up together. And it works.
I’ve found myself shattered and on my knees more times than I can count since reaching that critical recovery threshold, but I love the me that’s rising from the ashes on the other side.
She’s empowered, strong, and activated. She feels her feels and calls out injustice every single time, not just when it’s safe and convenient.
I trust her. I trust us. I trust me.