As I quickly learned, cleaning out your closet feels a lot like digging something up.
I had long-ago dropped the former-teacher narrative: not the story of my time as an early education teacher, but the tale of my quitting of the field — and quitting far too late, when the burnout had left indelible grit under my nails and a lingering cough in my throat. It had taken a few years, but eventually the radioactive dust from the fallout of quitting had dissipated and the air had cleared out again.
But something always lingered. The gnawing guilt, simultaneously over leaving and over not leaving soon enough — because I didn’t stick it out, and because I stuck it out when the best thing I could’ve done was leave. Like any wound that didn’t get a clean cut, it festered and reinfected and took years before it finally scarred over. Continue reading