Wednesday, April 11, 2012

After I left, I still think back

It's a delightfully cool spring day here.  I'm going to meet up with some of my former staff for lunch.  We get together ever so often to talk about the good ole days and find out what's new with each other.  I suspect that they will have a lot to tell me about what is going on at the laboratory.  I haven't been back there in quite a few months.

I have heard from a few people that the halls are nearly deserted, staffing numbers are down, number of grants are down, and more people have retired or are thinking about it.  It was a bustling, exciting place when I started working there. And that excitement continued until about the last 10 years of my employment.  Gradually, the politics and the bureaucracy ate away at many of us. I'm glad that I left when I did because I could tell that my enthusiasm had waned. It was time to leave.

My reservation about going back is that I feel I no longer belonged.  I actually felt like that the last couple of months while I was there.  Everything was moving around me in terms of planning and the future, but my future was to leave.  It was an awkward feeling, almost like I had left already but was physically still present.  My sponsor pointed out that perhaps the people needed to process in their own way that I was going and the best way to do that was to look forward.  Maybe.

But one of the things that I did not previously write about here was a note that was left under my door.  I opened my office one morning a few weeks after I had retired.  I was still going in to work on some last things that I wanted to wrap up.  I had a series of lectures to give and some other writing to do. The plain piece of paper was folded over.  I thought perhaps it was a note from a well-wisher.  But when I opened it,  there was a copy of one of my blog posts and a note with some hateful words typed on it.  I guess that I have blocked those words because I can't remember them exactly.

From that moment on, I no longer wanted to go back there.  I don't know who put the note there.   It doesn't really matter.  What matters is that I felt angry, fearful, sad, distressed--all tumbling together.  Someone knew about my blog and decided to write something nasty to me.

I did not give any thought to abandoning the blog, but I knew that going back into work in my old office was not an option.  I told the Director that any work that I would do, I would do from home.  I haven't regretted that.  I am okay with it all today.  My distance from work there is okay.  I do miss the people I worked with.  And today, I'll get a chance to tell them that again.

I'm glad that I finally wrote this blog post.  It has cleared up some hidden stuff within.  Thanks for reading.  


  1. Everything that I have read in your blog has always seemed to me to be written in a compassionate and understanding manner. Your kindness always comes through. Please let that person's distress and anger go. They were hurting and struck out at you. Syd, I hope you realize how much good you do through your blog. It is truly a light in the night for me. Thank you.

  2. What a sad, hateful act. What a unfortunate way to finish up your years of service there. I am glad that you have a program to help you understand that it's not about you. I am glad you never considered shutting down your blog.

    You do far more good than you know here.


  3. i feel you man on going back...after leaving the church i was on staff at and coming back 9 months later it was so weird...several years later it still is...many old friends had moved on and i had to accept that...

  4. I know you know this but it bears repeating- that note dealt with shit that the person who left it had inside of him or her. Wasn't your shit.
    Still. Doesn't make it stink any less.

  5. Hey Syd- you don't have to post that comment. It was for you plus it had the word "shit" in it which might offend some of your readers. I don't know.

  6. One thing I learned way to late in my career is that I work for myself. It doesn't matter who signs the check. If I am not working for myself I am not really working for anyone, I am just performing a bunch of meaningless tasks.

    It is the same with my blog. I write for myself. Others may at times find peace in my writings and stills others may be totally pissed off at my writings. I have learned that their reactions and emotions belong to them.

    Truthfully Syd, your writings have gone a long way towards my learning in this subject.

    Keep writing as long as it is for you. Go to the as long as it is for you. Maintain connections as long as it is for you.

  7. Syd I have to agree with others your blog has helped me tremendously. When I was reaching out one Holiday and searching for words to help me your blog hit the mark. Reaching out in Alanon helps me to realize I am not alone there are others who also suffer from the disease this helps me with recovery. I appreciate you taking a risk revealing a part of yourself in the posts.

    It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
    ― E.E. Cummings

  8. To quote an old friend of mine, "Happy people don't behave that way." I know that when I was at my angriest, I was at my unhappiest, so I try to feel compassion for this kind of acting out, but it's a struggle some days.
    Your blog shares you and your love, and that's a gift to your readers.

  9. What a coward the deliverer of that message was! They didn't have the courage to even sign their name on the paper. Hold your head up! Your blog is fantastic and you have the 'balls' to sign your name to each and every post! That says it all. You own your words...and that, my friend, takes courage and shows the kind of person you are!
    Shelley in SK

  10. Syd, I have been reading your blog for a long time now. It has been really integral to this part of my recovery. Though I go to several meetings a week, I don't always feel comfortable at meetings. I am extremely introverted, and I often can't process well during the meetings. I am grateful that you write. With your blog, the clutter, confusion, and distractions that I sometimes experience in a meeting are not present, but I get the benefit of hearing your perspective on a topic. And, unlike daily readers, you are one voice - a voice that I can follow over time as you move, change, and explore different sides of an issue, the way I might experience an in-person Al-Anon friend.

    In a way, of course, this arrangement enables a big weakness of mine, namely, I feel like I "know" you, but I don't have to risk anything by revealing anything about me...

    Baby steps...

    I wanted you to know that your blog is important. There are people out there who are fed by your words, your work, your compassion, your love of your fellow Al-Anons.


  11. I cannot imagine a professional person doing something as small as that was. Besides, if he/she got something out of your blog - great- - - if not - - - perhaps a simple prayer for that individual will help and let the person go. Time will catch that person, no doubt. Nothing is done without circumstances developing over time.

    You have risen above the feelings wrought by someone who obviously wished to control and hurt you. That's what recovery does to help us be okay with ourselves. Love, Anonymous #1

  12. That would have disturbed (and scared) Did you ever read your blog on a work computer? I think that is how someone at work found out about mine, but I'm not sure. I might just be paranoid about that. But I no longer log onto my blog from work ever.

    I'm also surprised you don't have any guesses as to who it is...but then it doesn't really matter.

    You handled it well. I don't think you have ever written about your work (only in a vague way) and I know you never describe anyone so they could be identified.

    Well, it's behind you. I bet they miss you more than they are willing to admit. You have moved on, and are enjoying the fruits of your many years of labor.

  13. Probably jealousy.
    Whatever it was I'm glad you carried on bloggoing. I feel privileged to be one of the readers that you've shared this with. Thanks.

  14. wow. That was a bit stalkerish, wasn't it. I don't block anyone from my blog, but I don't want a lot of people from my office knowing I blog. Sometimes I write about work and I really don't want to deal with it. Although, that being said, I don't write anything I'm ashamed of or wish I hadn't. Retirement is a good thing. :)

  15. I'll tell you, Syd, I've been reading your blog for a few years and I don't remember having ever read anything that someone from your workplace would find offensive. I have always felt that you wrote with a great deal of respect and class. Truthful, yes, but not hurtful. I find that note puzzling, really. I am so sorry, too, that this was your parting experience. You deserve so much more respect.

  16. I'm glad you wrote about this -- I remember you alluded to it once. Most of the time, I feel I know who I am writing to and for when I blog. I understand the troubled and unwell trolls that pop up from time to time. But every now and again I glimpse cruelty and something vicious or voyeuristic. It is disturbing and reminds me that I need to be self-protective and not assume that the blogging world is harmless.

    If this was a work colleague, he or she was a stalker and I've had that on a forum -- perhaps the only person ever to know me in real life from US-based online AA. He posted once and described the front of my home facing onto the street and I immediately contacted the moderators who banned him. But I didn't feel safe for months and I imagine how you felt about going back to your office.

  17. Syd, I'm really glad that you wrote this post, first it has allowed you get your feelings out into the open and secondly, I hope whoever it was that left that mean-spirited note to you will read this and know they do not have any power over you. I among many others readers genuinely appreciate your blog. It's one of the finest I have ever read. Thank you for sharing this with the world.

  18. That opening the door , stooping down and picking up the note then reading it...well in Detroit that would have been a real "Fuck 'em" moment.

    Most people's reaction would have been to cancel the retirement and push on just to be contentious.

    I personally have learned better now.

    You made the right decision Syd. You're head is in a much better space now and remember it is only a lunch. Not a lifetime.

  19. Wow, people can be so cruel! Like many have already shared, but I like Ms. Moon's version, it's theirs and not ours.

    However, that would have really freaked me out!

    Glad you were able to share and have the opportunity to express those feelings. Taking the power back!

    I agree with Mom and Dad that blogging should be for you. I have to remind myself of that everytime I post. I believe that is why your blog is so powerful, you have found that inner peace in this cruel chaos world and you share your perspective through your experience, strength and hope. I'm glad that note did not stop you from blogging.

    You are appreicated!

  20. That kind of note comes from a small, mean place inside a person.

    Perhaps by now they have changed and grown. I hope so.

    I think you are doing a good thing with your blog.

  21. I can't understand why a person would do something like that. All I can assume is that although they may know of your blog, if they had read some of it, then they didn't understand what it is about. It was inexcusable and I feel that jealousy and fear must have got the upper hand in their heart. But thank you for sharing your hurt. I hope you can now let it go and move on. I feel very sorry for that individual - they have a very long way to go on their journey.

  22. Interesting post. I have always felt you have been good about keeping your anonymity in many ways on your blog as opposed to other blogs where people are posting first and last names and and so many family photos.

    I also don't recall you ever writing about work issues, so hard to imagine what that person took offense to.

    That was one awful blogging experience, but it seems you have so many more positive ones since you inspire so many people with your blog.

    You are a great writer and I appreciate your honesty and openness. I am so glad that incident did not turn you off to blogging.

  23. I found your blog nearly three
    years ago. I went back and read
    from the beginning back then and
    have been reading fairly regularly
    ever since. Your writing is very
    inspirational and has given me so
    much insight on things. I have
    never commented before
    today...always talked myself out
    of it, but this post really struck
    me. I'm thankful that person's
    words and actions didn't run you
    off. Thanks for being true to who
    and what you are.

    God bless,


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