I will never forget a time when I heard these words, “We Still Love You”. This simple phrase came to me at just the right moment.
There are occasions when things just come at us, and we lose our ground. We seek out our friends, mentors and, yes, sages with the hope they will provide some guidance or a message that will help us regain our footing. We do this in the hopes that we will find ourselves once again back on firm ground. That said, there was a time I didn’t know how to ask for the right support when I needed to regain my bearings.
We Still Love You
I was in my third year of teaching in a small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business. I had been blessed with much recognition and many awards for being an outstanding teacher.
That year, I had a great group of first graders, mixed in skill level, ethnicity and economic means. The start of the year was a teacher’s dream. All the kids were eager to learn and full excitement about each new discovery on a daily basis. Every morning I would marvel at their shining faces, beaming with an excitement of what the day would bring. Simply said, it was fun teaching this class.
About midway through the year, just after the holidays, I went through a sudden and unexpected divorce. On the outside, everyone thought I was grieving over the loss of my marriage. On the inside, I was happy about it. The marriage had been abusive, and my husband’s leaving was welcomed. Where I struggled, was a sense of having failed somehow and the accompanying guilt about being happy about the marriage ending. The fact that it had been so sudden left me with a feeling that the rug had been pulled out from under me. I had to find out who I was, restore my dignity and identity. Things I had lost in the marriage.
It didn’t help that everyone offered support, cloaked in feeling sorry for me, and for me now being a divorcee. I was sick of the “Poor Susan“ and mournful faces when I went to the teachers lounge. So what did I do? I went through the motions of being the wounded divorcee. In a way, it was a kind of revenge for my abusive ex-husband who everyone now scorned for abandoning the marriage.
After awhile everyone lost interest and move on to something else.
The truth was I really didn’t want the (abusive) marriage to continue. I just never said it out loud. The hardest part was sorting out all my warring emotions. Somewhere in all those emotions, my own excitement, enthusiasm and energy for teaching were lost. It was as if the light went out in my desire to teach. I was going through the motions of what was expected of me as a teacher, only offering what needed to be done. No one seemed to notice.
As winter wore on, I struggled mightily to get back on track. The kids were learning despite my lack of attention.
One day, out of the blue, I started to cry for no apparent reason. One of my students, Kathy, a mite of a thing, small for her age, walked up to me. She move my arms away, sat on my lap put her arms around my neck, looked me in the eyes and said “We still love you”. I broke down hugging her with all my might and cried even harder. When I looked up, all the kids were staring at me. Not out of worry, although they had cause, but with the same look that Kathy was wearing and then I finally understood “I was needed, and I was loved”. It was what I needed to jolt me out of my stupor.
As spring was approaching, the words “We Still Love You” rang in my ears. I finally found my footing and so did the return of all the fun and enthusiasm I had for teaching. The year ended well with the kids scoring some of the highest on the scholastic achievement tests for the district, a small miracle in and of itself.
What did I learn? No matter our troubles, we aren’t alone, we are needed. If we think no one notices, they do. Know that when we need it the most, we will hear in some form or another, “We Still Love You”.
Have you ever had a time the phrase “We Still Love You” or one like it hit home? Have you struggled with asking for the right kind of support when you need it?
Life’s journey continues…