Leaving: Death and Termination

Last Wednesday morning, the day before my dad’s 21st death-a-versary, I drove away from the airport and towards work, leaving my mom on the curb for her to leave me and head back to Florida. Four years ago, I left her, moving to upstate New York. And a year and half ago, I moved farther way, moving here to Oregon.

We do so much leaving, us humans. Some out of convenience, some to save ourselves, some to become our true selves, to hide, for love, out of hatred, and most of all in death.

We leave, over and over and over again. And so it goes, and so it goes.

Dad died over 2 decades ago now. Now I’m 26.

Sometimes Society inquires,”Why aren’t you over it, Kristen?” like the idiot Society can be.

That’s 21 years of loss: of him not being with me, of significance he’s missed, that I’ve missed him; that’s 21 years without love from a man, a father-figure, a human to protect me from the cruel males who would try and have hurt me. That’s 21 years without hugs or affirmations and without a representative of what a man should be. My dad was flawed (we’re all and only human), but he was mine.

He’s gone, and every day the loss remains.

I work as a crisis therapist, working with suicidal youth. Two Wednesdays ago, a day I was on-call for hospital admits, I got called to the on-call supervisor’s office to be debriefed on a potential client before heading to the hospital to meet her. [Name of On-Call Supervisor] told me about a 16 year-old who attempted suicide on her daddy’s death anniversary. My dad’s death-a-versary was a week away then. I asked [Name of On-Call Supervisor] if we could close the door. She did. I wept, surprising both her and I, as I told her that I was experiencing counter-transference.

[Name of On-Call Supervisor] said she wouldn’t send me out. However, because of how they set up the schedule and to accommodate other therapists, I had to switch on-call days back with [Name of Another Therapist], causing me to be on-call Thursday again, the day my mom would fly into Portland, what I had been careful to avoid.

“Oh it’ll be fine,” said [Name of Current Supervisor]. “You know you’re going to see this a lot. A lot of our clients have dead parents.”

“If it weren’t September, I’d be fine,” I said.

“Is that why your mom is visiting?”

That night I went to The Dougy Center to volunteer with kids grieving the death of a parent.

The following night, Thursday, my mom and I had just made it into my apartment from the airport, and I hear the anxiety-provoking ringtone of my work phone. [Name of On-Call Supervisor] debriefs me on the kid I will see at the hospital that night, ASAP and within an hour as required. “Are you at the airport?”

“No. We just got to my apartment.”

“Okay. Does your mom know what you do?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Say ‘hi’ to her for me.”

“Mhmm bye.”

And that’s when I broke.

The crying in [Name of On-Call Supervisor]’s office was nothing. I was enraged. I TRIED. I’m sorry my dad died in September and that I didn’t go out to the admit the day prior. And now my brief time with my mom would be shortened by at least 4 hours. Where was the compassion? Why didn’t the counselors I worked with understand grief?

Tears shot down my face as I screamed to my mom about how much I hated seeing the ugliest sides of life at work.

“I HATE MY LIFE.” I sounded like my teenage clients, which I guess you can do when you’re with your mom.

What was I trying to prove with this job? Do I get extra life points for being miserable? What color would they paint me as a martyr? NOBODY CARES THAT I’M MISERABLE.

The emotional intensity I felt surpassed all that I had earlier that week breaking up with the boyfriend.

I am tired of seeing the effects of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other abuse presenting as suicidal ideation, violence/aggressive behavior, and cutting/self-harm (basically the causes and effects of pain—of people hurting people) and then going back to the office and being questioned if I’m good enough.

Goodness gracious, I’m sorry I’m not on Xanax or an SSRI, using alcohol, developing an eating disorder, or sleeping around to handle the horror and anxiety of this work like my coworkers. I’m sorry I cried at the office. I don’t like it either.

But I’m not sorry I’m human. And I’m not going to allow this job to take any more time away from me and certainly not any more time away from my loved-ones.

[Name of First Supervisor Who Never Wanted Me Hired in the First Place] was right all along: I’m not suitable for this job. She can smirk while she stomps her way down the hallways while she thinks she’s masking her deeply-set insecurity. She can have that.

Because here’s the truth and this also applies to the recent breakup with [Arrogant Doctor and Future Abusive Husband]: I have so much more to offer this world than completing the duties of this particular job.

We all leave each other for one reason or another. Sometimes we leave our jobs, too.

**I quit the next day, offering the organization a month’s notice, just as they begged for so that they wouldn’t be screwed over.

I quit appropriately on September 22nd, my dad’s death anniversary; albeit that symbolism was unplanned. If he were alive, I’m sure my dad would not want his daughter spending her one fleeting, precious life doing this work. As a dead dad, he knows how fleeting ‘fleeting’ really is.

The following Monday they fired me.**

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