pains and gains… it hurts to grow

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about personal growth, gain, and the hurt that tends to come along with these things… Funnily enough, while I have felt like I’ve had plenty of awesome experiences I should be thrilled to write about, I’ve been less than enthusiastic about sitting down and typing them out. I’ve honestly been totally unmotivated to write, telling myself I’m just suffering from an unusually long bout of writers block, but I think it’s mostly just laziness.

And also, I don’t want to examine my own feelings too closely.

I’m still in a battle at work which may have heightened on Friday. It appeared over the last two weeks or so that my office Nemesis was trying to “make nice” with me, which I silently rolled my eyes at. There is no going back – no one can “un-act” or “un-say” their past actions and words, and while I may be willing to forgive in the presence of an apology (which never came, by the way), I am not one to easily forget. I harbor bitterness to fuel my fiery anger. (I’m not saying it’s healthy, but I’ve been doing it for years. I’m convinced this anger is directly related to my feelings toward my mother… I so need a new therapist; it’s not even funny anymore…)

And then, due to a complete oversight and total mistake by me and my Canadian co-worker, we were absent when we were needed. And who took complete blame? Me. I have never seen someone handle something so minimal – in the grand scheme of the work – so poorly and unprofessionally. She shouted at me – not at us, at me. Everyone in the office stopped in their tracks. My Canadian counterpart was frozen in fear; my Nemesis glared at me with nothing that could be described as less than pure hatred. She did not immediately look away. So I apologized again. She treated me like I was her child, shouted at me like she would shout at a child who deliberately disobeyed. I was livid. And I didn’t retort, but perhaps I should have.

While I have thought about this experience, I’m reminded of other past co-workers and managerial personnel that I’ve experienced my same fiery rage for in the past… And none of them seem to be quite the same as this situation. While my experiences in the past taught me things, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I’m supposed to be learning from this debacle. One or two things I feel like I should take away from this is to never, ever, pursue any kind of personal friendship with a manager outside of work. I feel as though at one time, I did have a good, healthy friendship with one or two managers in the past. But neither of those ever came to be as involve as I allowed myself to become with this particular mess. Never, ever, ever again. I should have listened to my gut when I felt like it was a bad idea month ago. Shame on me.

But what else? What else could possibly be worth this pain and anguish and discomfort? I am growing tired of tip-toeing around, afraid to wake the sleeping giant. I’m tired of taking part in the bare minimum I can skid by with of sucking up so as to not cause any additional rifts in the flow of the workday.

Maybe I will figure it out later, as we often do, what it is that I will take away from all this discomfort and the continual headaches.

The most important thing I’ve learned, however, is that I’m a badass teacher and I love what I do. Even before this major storm reared its ugly head, I had other frustrations about working in a school that is very much a business first, a school second. And even through those, I knew that my life path was to be altered forever. For once, I had a plan that stretched beyond the one year I generally commit myself to when taking on a new path. I knew that this was what I was always meant to do. I learned that I love to help others learn. Like, really love it.

I think about other moments of pain in my life, aside from this one. The pain of loss, for instance.

I lost my father to cancer as a child and struggled with pain and anger for more than ten years after his death. I didn’t even realize it until I took a college course and was forced into a group of six other women who had experienced some kind of loss in their lives, others who had also lost a parent. I think I am still learning from that experience as a little girl: I grew up faster than my friends. I have been an old soul since adolescence. But I think I learned as an angry and confused kid that I didn’t want the fairy tale story that all the other little girls wanted… I didn’t play “house” in the same way that the other girls did. Sure, I played, but I think I wanted to be something more than a mom… Just a few weeks ago I posted that one of my secrets is that I truly want a family and to love someone, and those things are still true. But I think I realized as a nine- or ten-year-old that I could be whatever I wanted, even though I wasn’t sure what that was.

I’ve grieved the loss of love… More than once. In those moments of complete sorrow, I realized, again, what I had glimpsed as a little girl: that I am strong and powerful. That I am a woman and I don’t need a man to take care of me. That if I wanted to be, I could be completely independent. I didn’t know it then, but I was a feminist in the making.

I remember the pain of training for a marathon two years ago… It was a lot of blood, sweat, and a few times, tears. But it was so worth it. I finished a freaking marathon, having jogged most of it. I was in the best shape of my life and running (albeit at a grandmother’s pace) nearly every day. And even in those moments of rough runs and challenging moments of agonizing knee and muscle pain, I was truly happy. I felt like I was completely invincible when I ran. Why did I ever stop doing that?…

Vancouver USA Marathon - Pre-race pic. I ran with LLS in honor of my dad on Father's Day, 2012. It was an epic experience.

Vancouver USA Marathon – Pre-race pic. I ran with LLS in honor of my dad on Father’s Day, 2012. It was an epic experience.

Pain is good sometimes. It seems so counterintuitive, but it’s true. Life comes with troubles and we are all slave to trudging through the lows of our own existence. But I can’t help but thinking these days, when times seem at their worst: What will I learn from this and what could possibly get any worse?

Keep trudging on, Reader. Eventually, it will get better and we’ll both come out all the wiser.


Your turn, Reader! What moments of pain have you experienced that taught you something? Share your comments below. I can’t wait to read them. :)

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

*This piece was posted in response to WordPress’s The Daily Post: Pains and Gains.


  1. Pingback: Poem / Poetry – “Sacrifice” by David Ellis | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

  2. Dan Antion says:

    I have managed people for many years, and I can count the few unfortunate times I disciplined someone in public on one hand. And, I apologized for doing that each time. “Praise in public, criticize in private” has always been the best advice for new managers. You should tell that person how you feel, in private. Thanks for sharing this story.

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