SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: That Crappy, Crappy Feeling

Friday, August 26, 2016

That Crappy, Crappy Feeling

I remember one point, and this was back in November 2014 a few weeks before my 3020-a hearing had started, that I was obsessing, in a complete swirl about what would happen if I lost my job and had no income, no nothing. My family would be left high and dry.

A friend had told me that I could get a disability retirement at 1/3 of my pay. I thought about it. Since I was on Zerega Ave and the Bronx UFT was a block away I walked over there to meet with the pension guy (I forget his name).

He told me what my pension would be. It wasn't much but it was something. I then asked him about the death benefit. He told me that if anything were to happen to me my family would get $300k. I thought about it for what seemed like a minute or so but actually was a brief second. $300k guaranteed to my family if something happened to me seemed good considering that I and my family would be left for nothing. In fact I shared this with the pension guy. I forgot what he said, but he got me back to reality.

There was another time, I think it was after my hearing started, my wife and I got in an argument, or something happened. It was early in the evening and I drove to my favorite pizzeria in White Plains. I was eating my slice in the car and called a very good friend of mine and I asked him point blank, "If anything ever happened to me I want you to promise that you would take watch out for my wife and son." He really was taken aback. Again, the lapse into this ideation was brief and coming from emotion and not rational. It passed.

So did another time. I forget if it was before or during the hearings but I was walking back to the Rubber Room it was a gray dull day and I just thought to myself if I can just end this my wife and son get $300k. Again, fleeting, it soon too passed.

Why am I sharing this? I don't know. To get this off my chest. To show that all of us in a bad predicament with the DOE can go through something like what I went through.

That is what I had thought before I put fingers to keyboard. I wanted those who put me through this to know what kind of an effect they can have on someone's psyche when they decide to play God and attempt to separate one from one's direct deposit.

But as I wrote I discovered another reason.

I know there are many others in or who were in my shoes. Many are hurting mentally and emotionally right now or have. I want to let you all know that you can battle back from this morass of fecal matter brought on by the DOE. That you can't give up the fight. That you if you come to a wall in your battle know that there are other ways around that wall.

I am so concerned, so caring about others who are going through 3020-a and other crap that what is most important is your mental health, your spiritual health, your family's health. Yeah, sometimes coming off as the loudest, nastiest, loudmouth on the playground is a good way to battle back, but there is no there there with that kind of mentality.

You need to know nuance. You need to know when and where to do what you need to do. But most important of all is your mental and physical health and your loved ones. Don't let anyone fool you into doing otherwise. Don't let anyone fool you into false promises.

If you are in the situation I or hundreds of others have been or currently in it is OK, it is natural, to have the same feelings that I wrote about. I had a great support system and that is one thing you need.

Do not go through this alone!!


Unknown said...

We need you. A dear friend of yours just shared this with a bunch of other teachers who know deepshit up close and personal, everywhere from the hinterlands if NY state, the steamy cities in south FL, the city of Brotherly Love, me here in southern CA ... and on.

After my successful lawsuit against my now-former employer (we settled, it's online so..,) with the nation's largest regional education agency, I went thru a period of deepshit despair - for I no longer had to stuff the feelings. They just oozed and oozed. Depression? HA! That was on the good days.

We need people like you, like me... to not only speak out on the horrors of bullying but what damage that does to one's psyche. It's only when people begin to realize that injustices HURT in real ways... people 'get' that "mental illness" is really, REALLY emotional injury, no less real than a gunshot wound ur a car accident.

Please connect with me. I've just completed seven weeks of specialized training in becoming a peer professional - one who connects and so much more via "lived experience". Perhaps you can help other teachers "come out of the attic" about the emotional costs of bullying. Peer support (the kind you did today, here) is an evidence based practice that helps others.

There are kids with depression too. If teachers fear retaliation or shaming by divulging they have depression, how the f&ck are kids gonna learn how to deal with theirs? And yo, all you admin's and superintendents and BoE members... how many in your shoes have lived through harrowing despair? How many fear shaming if they talk about it? How many are now dead from it?

Thank you... You were Honest. Open. Proud.

Literally! Go read about that program. It's how people begin to talk about "mental illness".

You proved here that one can not only be HONEST and OPEN. But PROUD.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. Thank you for helping feel a little less lonely and less fearful for the future as a teacher in the DOE.

Anonymous said...

You are courageous. I have hit a lot of lows myself. It is challenging to consume a diet of almost constant criticism. I keep asking myself if I am not considered competent in my area of expertise, then what am I good at washing dishes or perusing clearance racks at Macy's? The process is beyond humiliating. Thanks so much for your brutal honesty.

Abigail Shure

Keitha said...

A teacher's work environment is a student's learning environment. If our work place is a hostile environment what is that doing to our students? Kudos to you for having the courage to know that you are not the only one being treated this way. On a flight home from a conference in Washington DC last spring I wound up sitting next to a passenger who is the executive director of psychiatric services for a hospital. When I told him my story he asked me, "What keeps you going?" My reply . . . "No one should be treated the way that I was treated." "Since I know that others are being treated that way it is my responsibility to do everything I can to correct an injustice to educators and students."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing

Santana said...

I went through the same thing...I never inquired how much my family would get if I ended it all but I came to my senses and just looked at my boys...the fucking DOE wasn't worth it and my boys needed me more...