Like most toxic relationships, I stayed in way longer than I should’ve. I ignored my gut instinct and began to make excuses for the way things were. ‘After this holiday, it’ll get better’. ‘New year, new start’, I’d convince myself. New year, a new excuse was the reality.
In the beginning, it was a true romance that blossomed well. I dedicated my time, fought hard for what I wanted and was emotionally invested. I got out what I put in and I was made to feel secure, valued and worthy; my ego often massaged, it had the makings for a lifetime of happiness. It was a marriage, a commitment; I relied on it and it relied on me. Because of it, I was creative and independent and it brought out the best in me. I learnt along the way, obviously, and I wasn’t perfect by any means. But for those first few blissful years, I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.
But then the red flags. The flags that were ignored, the flags that I chose to see in green rather than the detrimental colours that they were. The flags that asked- ‘is this you? Is this what you really thought it was going to be?’ At first, it was easy to ignore the signs, I could say it was tiredness or we just ‘needed a break’. I’d blame myself for spending too much time together and not enough of doing my own thing. Other people didn’t help. I’d observe those who had it all together and envy their lives. Why was I finding it hard but they seemingly weren’t? Why were my weekends filled with anxiety and guilt about trying to delicately balance everything in my life with zero thanks? Goalposts began to change constantly and heads were turned at spritely new versions of me. I used to be like her, I’d think.
I kept at it but things began to take its toll. I began to lose interest but wasn’t interested in going elsewhere so my energy dipped and I lacked motivation. I didn’t get out of this what I was putting in and we just disagreed on the fundamentals. I became a drain on the whole relationship and I resented the fact that so much had changed between us without my say so. I couldn’t even choose a colour pen by myself anymore. I had lost control and found myself in a situation that I did not know how to get out of. I wasn’t happy but I didn’t know what to do about it. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Then we’d have our good days and I’d convince myself all was good again. One or two weeks break at a time and I’d feel ready to give it another go.
Looking back, it was all very textbook really. I’d bore my friends about my troubles but then never did anything about it and the next they saw me I’d be ‘fine’. But we weren’t. We were going in different directions and as much as I tried, I was losing the fight.
Of course, I’m happily married. I’m not talking about that marriage. I’m talking about the other marriage. The one I was in for ten years. My teaching career. They say us teachers are always married to our jobs. Well, sadly, we’ve parted ways and I hope that I will find happiness in something else as much as I did in those first few years. It’s a job that’s changed, for the worse in my opinion; unnecessary tasks and unrealistic goalposts that do not benefit the children merely tick boxes for government-led initiatives. I have the fond memories, the fabulous friends and the knowledge that I know I did my best for those children throughout the years. Sadly, teaching doesn’t do its best for teachers.