In 2005 I started a phd program. I had been working towards a doctorate degree for so long and being accepted at the school of my choice was one of the happiest days of my life! I began with so much hope for the future. My husband and I had just bought a house and our 18 month old son was healthy and happy. Everything was wonderful.
We began the extensive renovations on our new home soon after moving in (when you buy a fixer upper you have to fix it up…) with sweat equity and the naivety of first time home buyers. I also began my doctoral program and our son began a great pre-school. (our new neighbor just happened to run a day care and our son would look out the picture window that faced the door to the pre-school and shout “HI KIDS” to every kid as they entered or exited the school with their parents.).
As time went on friction between the administrator of the program and me increased. It became clear that she did not approve of the way I embraced feminism, Goddess spirituality or really the way I did anything. While I maintained a a great GPA it became clear I was never going to graduate from that school as long as she was administrator.
While the situation deteriorated at school, the real estate market crashed. Our house dropped in value a significant amount and we were now one of the millions who were upside-down on their mortgage. Our son remained healthy and his school situation remained a good one. But pretty much everything else started to get really crappy.
My step-mother died. My mom’s best friend, a constant in my life since I was born, died. My good friend died. My uncle died. SO many stressors! Listserves that were a lifeline were now a source of distress. And so many more things were happening. It was profoundly wounding on a intellectual, spiritual and emotional level.
It wasn’t an entirely awful time, my relationship with my husband remained strong and our family remained healthy. My daughter graduated from college, my other daughter graduated high school and my oldest daughter found a truly loving relationship. But the stress levels were high due to the financial burdens and great losses in my personal life. It also meant the death of my dream of ever having a doctorate degree.
This past week a friend from graduate school came to Texas to present at the Gloria Anzaldua Conference in Austin. She opted to stay with us, as we live close to Austin. I attended the conference with her. It was the first conference I had attended since I had presented with her at a conference in 2008.
We stayed up late and talked, we laughed, we discussed past events including the time at university. She has completed her studies and is now a Doctor! Her visit and conversations with her friends have put my past decisions into perspective. My decision to quit school, however painful, was exactly the right one. If I had stayed the politics would have killed me in a very literal way.
Seven years after quitting school and five years after moving to Texas I can finally say I am healed. In no small way because of this past week. I feel like I can finally move on and do what I do in the world.
Healing comes when you are done processing, not when you want it to. Sometimes it only takes a year, sometimes it takes less time sometimes it takes longer. It took me time to remember who I was and what I felt like before the intellectual, emotional and spiritual beating I took at the hands of people who professed being spiritual. But I have arrived. finally, at healed.