Nothing in my 20 years of business and rescue prepared me for last Sunday's Executive meeting. I'm a self-professed "tough cookie". I've been through high kill shelters and have held my own beloved pets as they passed over. I hurt, but I bounce.
Spending the better part of a beautiful Sunday with women who shared the same passion sounded like the right place to be. I spent $20.00 in gasoline and drove 1 hour to the meeting place, after dropping off a cat at a local Petsmart store. With my plate of veggies and dip in my lap I listened dutifully as we went through the agenda.
One woman who serves on the board, is basically the board piriah. Nobody likes her, and some offer the periodic eyeball roll, and sympathetic email post-meeting. They put up with her because she serves the job within the rescue that nobody wants to do.
She blindsided me that beautiful Sunday afternoon, by bringing up an offensive email that I sent 2 weeks ago. Rather than telling me that she was offended at the time the email was sent, she build up 2 weeks worth of hostility and verbally attacked me at the meeting. Please know, that we usually anticipate this person to do something completely socially stupid at these meetings. It's expected. What I didn't expect is that while this woman was berating me on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, I watched in horror as my peers said nothing as they watched this drama unfold. They were practically whistling at the ceiling.
I felt humiliated. I couldn't speak as I choked back the tears. Eventually, I excused myself to go cry in the washroom. Honestly, nothing I said in that email warranted that sort of behaviour. Surely when I went back to the meeting, somebody would say *something* to reassure me. No. They had gone onto the next topic.
I work 40-60 hours per week for this rescue for free. I'm at my computer at 7:30 am, and am still working at 10 pm - 7 days per week. I'm the only one that was available during the day. My gasoline bill was $800.00 per month. I waited for two days for somebody to explain to me what happened.
Nobody called. It was silent. My heart and soul hurt like never before.
I made a terrible mistake. I thought that these women were my friends - I felt used and humiliated. I mistook a business relationship for friendship. Silly me.
After careful consideration and lots of tears, I sent in my resignation on Tuesday. I didn't expect that pushing the "Send" button would give me a feeling of freedom that I hadn't felt in a long time.
Finally today, I received the token email from the board's 19 year old board member, who obviously drew the short straw:
"The remaining executive would like to thank you for your commitment to (the rescue).
We respect your request to resign and hope that your future endeavors in cat rescue work will prove fruitful for you."
I woke up this morning to an unfamiliar feeling of relief. I didn't check my email until 10 a.m, and I went to a bookstore and read one of my new books by the fire this afternoon. It was heavenly. I put my hair in hot rollers and cleaned out my cosmetic drawer.
As I unwind my deep roots within this rescue, I am comforted by the lesson that I learned. At almost 50 years old, I didn't think there was that much life could still teach me.
But life has a different plan for me. You'll see... :)