I took another step. Followed by another. Followed by 10,000 more. I walked. I walked for miles. For two hours. During that two hours, everything changed. All the anger I felt surfaced. I walked with clenched fists. At times my lips drew back like a snarling dogs. I’d have growled, if I could.
The anger burned within me. Racing through my blood. I remembered everything. The way people pretended to care about me while they forced me out of work, sent me home on leave, ordered me to have no contact of any kind with anyone. All the while telling me, “We want you to get better.” As if ripping someone’s heart to shreds would make them better.
Always the anger burned. But after a thousand or two thousand steps, it began to fade. My fists unclenched. My snarl faded. And my fear surfaced. I was afraid. Hell, I was terrified. Who wouldn’t be? I was out on medical leave. Not one broken bone. Not one stitch. Hell, I didn’t even have bruise. Except on my heels from walking stupid distances. But I was OK with that.
I wasn’t OK with being out of work. Being at home. I’d lost my job. I’d lost my career. I’d lost everything. I knew that. It was my worst nightmare, come to life. And the people I depended on, and worked with every day for years had made that decision. They hadn’t even warned me. They hadn’t said anything. They’d waited until I was out of town, on vacation, to make the decision.
They didn’t have the heart to tell me to my face.
No one ever returned when they got sent home. No one ever had. It was the kiss of death. The end. I’d end up unemployed. Everyone knew that. I knew that. And I had no idea what to do. I’d had that job, that career, for 28 years. I didn’t know how to do anything else.
And no one I’d worked with would ever talk with me again. Me. The one that came apart. The only one that came apart. Everyone else was fine. Happy. Professional. Working. And I’d come apart so badly, they’d even requested I never speak to them.
What does it feel like when everyone you see every day is suddenly gone?
As I walked, the fear faded. And my depression surfaced. The depression that got me sent home. The anxiety that caused my pulse to race, my hands to shake like tuning forks. And all I wanted was for the hurt I felt to end. Bruised heels, blistered toes, and me walking miles and miles, and I didn’t even feel the pain my feet were in. All I felt was the ache, the agony, of my heart and soul.
It wasn’t until my depression surface, and faded, that I could finally breathe. I could finally feel. The moment I was in. I could see the sky, and the clouds in it. I could feel the breeze, and the warmth of the sun. I could feel the cold of the winter. I could hear the birds. It wasn’t until I’d walked through all the hurt, the fear, the anger, that I found myself.
It was on those walks I finally learned to live.
My entry, in all its unedited glory, for week 15 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.