It is interesting because the strategy that is working for me is to just take a moment and breathe. You would think that breath was an automatic, all day, no matter the circumstance. You’d be amazed at how fractured that idea is, if you could see the bizarre, intricate, circuitous patterns my brain takes when things get hard. Seriously. I’m proud of how well I took care of myself today. My move at home has been hard on many levels. I miss John so much it is like a silent strike of lightning burning behind my eyes in silent scarf dances. I filled the shelf we made with books…more books than we ever had in our room since we moved in together. I stacked them horizontal, to fit more. It thrilled me to see my Dante, my Vonnegut, my Alice Walker novels, complete Shakespeare works, Tom Robbins, and The Satanic Verses all now living with me in my room again. Yet each stack I made was a voodoo pin pricking my heart, reminding me John is not here. So I spend the day working, aching from lifting and climbing and bending, bleeding invisible from a thousand fantasy punctures, saying nothing, moving on. And today, I entered my classroom. I had many people ask if I am happy to be back in 5th. I finally realized, I don’t really care. It’s okay. I’m happy to be with kids. I don’t care what age. What bothers me is that I missed the chance to teach some special people. In that way, my old principal wins. She pulled me from families I love, kids I have watched grow up. All I did, when she moved me to second grade, was jump in with both feet and try to be the best teacher I could be…which is what I will do again. But today I felt the heaviest alone feeling I have ever had at work. It was deep and wide. It was a SCUBA diving weight belt around my heart and head. I wanted to find someone, anyone, to talk to about how heavy it was. I didn’t. I just kept working. Some people helped me bits and pieces. I just kept working. It’s always easier to move forward with heavy, tedious things when you have someone to talk to while plodding.
I want to say I don’t really feel like a different person, but that would be a lie. In fact, I even typed half of the sentence saying so, but had to go back and delete it…I am vastly different. Which is odd, because I am still me. I still panic and assume the worst. I still laugh too loud. I just understand pain and independence much more deeply. I know what it means to deeply and almost tragically need help, and not have it be there. I also know that sometimes, when you least expect it, you will find that it shows up. Perhaps not for as long as you need it, but for a while. Life is the ultimate team sport. Some of us feel that. For the rest, there is no way to teach them other than to live it yourself. You give of yourself everything you have, and sometimes more than you thought you could find. Because some day you will find that you are needing more than anyone is able to give. And you will know that you have more inside you than you ever would have dreamed.
So, it’s time to go to sleep. I have anxiety buzzing low and soft under my rib cage. I imagine it will be there for quite some time. But I will learn to live with it and still fight to be the best person I can be, the best teacher I can be…because I deserve no less than that. And of course, there is nothing else the kids deserve. I hope people looking in from the outside see the way that I give. I hope I have the strength to struggle alone when I need to, to remember that my job, for now, is still on the line…under scrutiny. And I don’t know who I can trust. So I will toe the line. Ask for help and offer it…smile and keep going…find the strength to do however much I can do all on my own. What I need to do is not allow the hurt of others allowing me to be alone to touch my already raw lonely spots. Those invisibly bleeding pin pricks. They need to reside on a different layer…an avatar.
I don’t know who I am. I don’t know how I am doing this. I don’t know where I am headed or how I will get there. But the sled has started down the hill and I’m holding on for dear life, screaming all the way.