But then as I started working with more companies I also started working a "real" job, we bought a house, we added another baby and school and the about me posts disappeared as I tried to make sure my sponsored stuff was done and my work stuff was done and I was still making time to be a mom. I gained more followers and I was embarrassed by what some may think when they read what I had to say. My deeply personal stories were out there for everyone to read.
The hardest part of this was last year. I needed a place to talk and I couldn't. I couldn't write and I couldn't share and the only person I could talk to was either related to me or one of my superiors at work. If you know anything about me, you know that I struggle with "being a burden" and usually shoulder it myself before running to help.
It almost killed me last year. I still find myself yearning for a place to finally put it down and today I'm saying screw it to anyone who might read this, to anyone who might judge it. This is my safe place, my space to lay down what's in my head.
Just over a year ago I had to make the decision between doing the right thing and doing what I wanted to do. Doing what I wanted to do would have been easy. I could have ignored it, kept my mouth shut, and I could have moved on with my life. Only I couldn't.
There are certain lines drawn in all professions and when lines are crossed, I can't stay quiet, even when I consider that person my friend. How I wish I could unsee the messages I saw. How I wish I could have been sick at home the day the student brought her phone up to me with the messages. How I wish she had just brought it to another teacher's attention instead of mine. But she didn't. She came to me and I had to do what all mandated reporters have to do.
And then I had to stay quiet. I wasn't allowed to say anything while lawyers looked into the messages. I wasn't allowed to say anything while the administration made a decision on my friend's future. I wasn't allowed to say anything in the aftermath because I was the new bad guy. I did what was right, what I would have wanted my hypothetical 16 year old daughter's teacher to do, but it killed me inside. So many people hated me because they didn't know the whole story, that I started to hate myself. Every day was a fight to get up. Every day was a fight to go to work. Everyday was a fight to not run from the building crying when I would get confronted in the hallways or when people would raise their voice and say terrible things about me in front of other teachers and students. Every day sucked. I had to learn quickly, that my life there was over, at least in the way it had been.
As someone who thrived on the praise of others, who needed reassurance that I was doing okay, I was lost. My poor husband had to pick up my pieces every day when I got home from school. I would curl up on the couch and not move for hours. I don't know how he dealt with me and kids and his job, but he never gave up on me. I got to that dark place and he pulled me back. He and my children saved me.
I slowly lost the hatred in my heart because how can you hate someone who is ignorant of the facts? How can you be angry at someone who doesn't understand why they are mad? I lost a lot of friends in that week and many have not come back into my life but for those who have, I am forever grateful. These people showed me true friendship. These people helped me want to be at work again. These people helped me feel better, and still they don't know the whole story.
Even to this day I've shared the story with maybe 6 outside of my family. Regardless of what was done, it was not my job to share it. When I'm approached now, I'll share my side, the side that was left out in the feelings of anger and betrayal of last year. But that's not who I am anymore.
A year ago, I sent an apology because I felt so bad about how things went. I was willing to curl up and die because I was so unhappy. With special thanks to an amazing counselor, I am stronger now than ever. I don't need validation in my actions. I don't seek approval anymore. That's not who I am anymore. The last year was hard, but that's not me anymore. That's not who I will be. Instead, I will be the strong, confident woman I know I've become. I know right from wrong and I know that if I'm ever in this situation again, I'll handle it the same way, the right way. I am in charge of me, and I choose to be happy, even if other people can't see the whole story.