I am emotionally unwell today. That department meeting was so triggering, my own equivalent of Hell. It was like talking with my Grandpa about politics except they were other English teachers in my department. We were supposed to be on the same team. I bet most of them when they see me walk around think I am a student instead of one of their colleagues. When I try to talk about these kinds of things with my mentors or parents, they just say, “Well, that’s work,” or “You’ll be out of there soon, just got to survive.” Don’t they realize what surviving a pandemic means?
That life is too short and too uncertain to live for a future that may never happen.
That we must learn to love and embrace the journey. The journey is the end destination.
That we must not be afraid to ask for what we need and set boundaries because corporations and the government do not care about us; people care about us.
And yet, it feels impossible right now. Overwhelmingly unnecessary. The pedagogy we preach, differentiated learning, “I do, we do, you do,” relationship building, is not actually happening to teachers. It is a unrealistic situation to ask us to build quality learning relationships and differentiated instruction for 70 students AND provide them with the skills to live a quality life (whatever that quality life may be!) while being isolated 30 hours a week in a classroom and barely even having the time to construct a life for ourselves without having monthly, “FUCK EVERYTHING I CAN’T TAKE IT, I WANT NO RESPONSIBILITIES AND TO JUST GET AWAY FROM EVERYTHING,” and then dropping the ball for a few days before finding the strength to quiet the human in us and be the fucking savior society needs us to be.
Sometimes teaching feels like a competition of who can experience the most self-neglect to prove they are the best person. Look at all the friends and family and other obligations I sacrificed so that I can give to my students.
Or, it’s the — look at how I can take the most shortcuts and do the least amount of work because they don’t value me and my job isn’t that important and I get summers off!
When really it’s both– balance. I am struggling with balance. Did you know that female teachers are 67% more likely to have breast cancer than other people? I can tell you why! It’s because of there is no time for self-care, and when we do, we just feel guilty.
Because when we complain about how difficult our jobs are, people tell us, “You have it easy, wait until you have kids!” Like that’s a thought in my brain because I have a boyfriend and feel happy enough in my life to want to bring someone into this world. Because I feel supported to do that, when I barely have enough time to manage my own support network that is falling apart, which is why I have to cry and write this fucking blog post.
Because of the guilt I keep feeling because I can’t support my friends and family and students the way I want to, the way I know I am capable of, the way I think they need me to. I can’t even support myself the way I need to, self-sabotaging over and over and over. The way I don’t even have fucking healthcare right now. They way I went to the doctor to get a blood test but was too dehydrated so the blood wouldn’t come out of my veins, so I was supposed to go tomorrow but that was six months ago, and how I don’t want to go back to that nurse or that doctor just for them to say, “you’re fine.” when it’s clear I am neglecting myself which will eventually result in some form of chronic or lifestyle illness, and they will give me no support or preventative care because I am healthy and skinny and NOW employed and have a loving family, and friends, and, “You’re so nice!”, and then tell me there is a waiting list for therapy, and my problems aren’t that bad. The way I see all the parents drop the kids off at school and know in another country students walk to school or bus or train, and the parents are more relaxed and the kids are more self-reliant and the environment is nicer and people feel safer using public transportation.
Damn, sometimes I just want to run away. I fucking hate this place sometimes. A country designed and managed by traumatized children. I am a traumatized child, but I am working through it. I am aware of it. I am talking about it. Well, I’m blogging about it. Actually, I think I push the mental health and therapy talk on a lot of people. I guess a lot of countries are designed and managed by traumatized children.
I know nowhere is perfect. I know that I have to pick my grass and water it. I know that I am a million years improved from when I returned home two years ago. A lot can happen in two years. Gosh, that’s an optimistic thought. When I think about my life two years ago, damn… if I can completely rebuild myself then I can do anything.
And I did that unemployed with no savings, my friends, my family, and just my mind – which was honestly in pieces and riddled with unprocessed memories. I have to enjoy the journey and accept the fact that this is where I am right now and that’s all I can be, and all I can do. Things are getting better. We finally have the right textbook. And we talked to your mentor and she gave you some amazing advice, tools, resources. And your other mentor and coach and your co-teacher. You are supported. You are supported. You are where you are and that’s all you can be. You are learning so much right now. No one expects perfection, even though I feel guilty I can’t be as good as I want to be. But it’s not brain surgery, it’s not one and done. You have a whole year with these kids — and they have five other teachers, and extra-curriculars.