On my drive to work this morning I heard something on NPR that made me laugh (it was barely twenty minutes ago and I have no memory of what it was). The laugh almost immediately became tears. That’s where I am right now.
I am as emotionally fragile and raw as I can ever remember being. Every emotion, the easy ones and the hard ones, the ones that feel great and the ones that feel awful, are all right there on the surface. Or, at a minimum, just below the surface. It’s as if they’re all bubbling up, growing, gaining momentum, just waiting for something to release them. A joke, a hug, a frustration.
This happens to me every once in a while. I hit a point at which I can’t handle everything (whatever that might mean) and I have a bit of a breakdown. I just kind of emotionally and physically collapse. I can point to times this has happened in the past. I know the signs and I know I can, eventually, get through it and out the other side.
This time, though, feels different. Maybe it’s having multiple new teammates mid-year. Maybe it’s that my students’ needs seem so much greater than most years. Maybe it’s that I have absurdly overcommitted myself. Maybe it’s a combination of them all. I don’t know.
I just know that showing up for work every day, smiling and talking with my colleagues, is currently a challenge. Even more challenging is responding to my students with patience and grace. The normal things in life all feel much harder than they have in the past.
Last night I made dinner. I order Home Chef meals and I aim to only get the ones labeled Easy. I don’t like to cook and have never really developed the skills. These meals make it doable for me to be the one making sure we have dinner during the week. Last night I looked at the recipe, an easy one, and wanted to cry. It just felt like too much.
I do know this won’t last forever. I can’t see the way out right now, but I know there is one and that I’ll find that path eventually. I can accept that. What I hate is that I can not be the person others need in my life when I am in this place. I can not be the teacher these students need and deserve. I can not be the colleague my teammates deserve. I can not be the mother my children deserve. And so on. (For the record, other than my students, I know people will be just fine. I am not making or breaking any lives here.)
Finally, I’m tired of writing these posts. I think they do help me, to pour this out in black on white. I hope it helps others to know they aren’t alone. If some non-educator gets a glimpse of where educators are right now, that’s even better. But I’d like us not to be here. I’d like us all to be less broken right now.
I want so badly to encourage all teachers to push through the moments of despair.
I know you have heard and read this many times. Please, let it provide some comfort.
“You are a child of the universe. No less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”