August 10, 2022
Just two days — 48 hours — after my dad died in March 2020, I received a telephone call from my acting supervisor asking when I might return to work.
I knew at that very moment that I’d quit my corporate job.
With absolutely no disrespect directed towards the supervisor, I expressed my plan to take things day by day. The call ended with my sharing that I’d be in touch with her regarding my return date.
That day arrived three weeks later. With no paid time off (PTO) and bereavement leave exhausted, I knew I’d need to push full steam ahead towards my resignation date. I don’t know if it was the anger surrounding my company’s bereavement policy, or simply adrenaline carrying me. All I know is three months to the day after returning to work, I resigned to focus on my own business.
Yes, a literal business in the form of an LLC. And the business of slowing down and caring for myself.
July 2020 marked my second official life reset, the first occurring over a year following my mom’s death in 2012. Both my body and mind summoned me to a more grief-friendly pace, and I knew an affirmative response was the only option. It was a “hell yes” for me.
On paper, quitting a full-time, well-paid position with benefits didn’t make sense. I mean, does anyone really want to shop for insurance providers within the healthcare marketplace? Expanding a part-time private practice in a season when my own professional networking had fallen to the wayside didn’t make sense. Heck, leaving something known in the midst of the unknowns inherent in a global pandemic didn’t make sense. (FYI, it took me quite some time to resolve internal guilt associated with willfully quitting a job while others cried out for work).
Nevertheless, what did make sense was my need to slow down.
As was the case when my mom died, grief manifested itself primarily in my body following my dad’s death. Seemingly routine things — like walking from my office to a patient’s room in a different part of the hospital — physically drained me. Fatigue consumed me, no matter the night’s sleep, coffee indulgence, or personal pep talk.
I knew I needed to lean into the clues my body offered me, as opposed to avoiding them.
What I quickly discovered was that a 40+-hour work week didn’t align with my body’s needs anymore.
While I knew I would quit my job, I didn’t have a clear picture of what my new daily and weekly routine would be. Questions loomed in my mind, ushering in waves of doubt and anxiety. How would clients even know I existed as a mental health provider? How many clients would I need to see each day/week? What would happen financially?
I’d always experienced peace following prayer, so that’s what I focused on. I made it my business to spend at least 30 minutes a day reading a Bible devotional, journaling, and centering my prayer life. It’s amazing what stillness can do for the soul!
Partly due to grief and partly by intention, I also began to focus on breathwork and meditation. While challenging at times, both helped me re-discover my breath, which I didn’t realize I’d held since the night my dad died. What made sense for me was sitting with myself alongside my heartache.
In what ways might stillness help you make sense of what doesn’t seem to make sense?
Historically, grief has pushed me into isolation. What didn’t make sense was leaving a full-time job with built-in connection to others on a daily basis.
I knew the risks associated with venturing off on my own — depression, loneliness, and feelings of invisibility. At the same time, I recognized the limits of my emotional capacity. As the clock ticked closer to my resignation date, I began to experience relief from being “on” every day.
My friend, service is a tricky thing. It simultaneously blesses others and you, while draining all you have. It’s a paradox that I can’t wait to talk to God about when the time comes, LOL. Seriously though, operating from a giving stance requires that you explore your own “tank” on a regular basis.
One of the tools I used to explore my tank was inviting input from close friends and family. Why? Well first, I recognized the reality of my own blind spots. Second, I found it essential to ask those who I trust what their thoughts were about my emotional health. Finally, I needed to ensure they’d hold me accountable in the event I slipped into isolation.
The past 10 years have positioned me to understand the complexities of grief, including its nonsensical ways. And I’m convinced, from a spiritual perspective, that we’re continually guided towards what’s ultimately going to be good for us.
Friend, I encourage you to jot down what makes sense for you in this season.
Don’t worry about whether everything lines up perfectly. Don’t judge yourself for thinking of yourself. And do your best to rest in the truth that you’ll receive what you need along the grief journey.
Learn more about managing your lifestyle, love, leadership, and loyalties to God, self, and others by clicking here: https://mekelharrisphd.com/.