I was a newly divorced mother, and had moved back to America after living abroad for five years. I had been a dancer, and was now teaching ballet. I had finally been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis after suffering for several years. My body was very different now, my spine was immoveable, and I still had pain every single day despite all of the medicines. I was also exhausted every day and had black bags under my eyes.
Needing a job, I contacted a school that was hiring. They called me back saying they had heard wonderful things about me from a man I had previously worked with, and after my interview, I was hired. On my arrival, I was pleasantly surprised when the man offered to take me to dinner and show me around the city. I hadn’t really known him very well, but was happy to have his friendship.
I was surprised to find that some of his friends were not very kind. When I asked him why they were so unfriendly, he said they were afraid I was going to hurt him. He wanted to be more than friends. I was newly divorced and had no interest in a romantic relationship. I had just finished nursing my daughter, and she was my priority.
Things went sour quickly, and he began saying bad things about me. I couldn’t leave my job, and tried to ignore the rudeness from his friends. It went on for several years, and I became immune to their nastiness. The wellbeing of my daughter gave me tremendous strength. She brought so much joy to my life that I could block out everything else.
The man told my boss that my resume wasn’t quite accurate, and that he had talked me up so I would get the job. He was referring to a part of my work history that stated I had performed with a certain ballet company. This wasn’t a lie. Two dancers became injured, I was around and they asked me to perform and gave me a salary. I never said I was a member of the company. I didn’t feel defensive about having put my performing experience down, and carried on working. This small ballet company and school was not nationally known, and I certainly didn’t need his help to find a job. After all, he had been fired for his arrogance from the company where we met.
As years went by, my arthritis caused more damage and pain. I had days where my neck was so stiff I could hardly turn my head. His friends seemed to rejoice in my pain and said my whole resume was probably a lie, and that I had never danced. One young dancer from Venezuela said he must speak to me. I was intrigued when he pulled me into an office, sat behind the desk and told me to have a seat. “I have heard terrible things about you.” Surprised, I smiled. I had worked with many dancers from Caracas, one even came to my small wedding, and I had only fond memories. I wondered what terrible things they may have said about me. I questioned him and he replied that it didn’t matter. I agreed that it didn’t matter, as I had never really been mean or terrible to anyone. I’m mostly a quiet, non-confrontational type.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, they made crude jokes, and I was shocked to find that they joined breastcancer.org and made remarks about my posts. Soon, they invaded my privacy even more, and I couldn’t figure out what to do as I had never experienced anything like this,. Because they had no integrity, it was just fun and games for them and I was starting to feel very depressed and anxious.
In my mid-forties I had my first hip replacement. I was in my twelfth year of teaching and my daughter was about to enter high school. It was the end of summer and I realized my boss had not given me my schedule or contract for the new season.
To be continued…….