Thursday, May 28, 2020

One Less Stressor

Last week I fell apart emotionally. I just ran out of steam. I could no longer deal. This week I fell apart physically. I got sick from stress and exhaustion. Running on empty tends to do that to me.

I felt like just giving up and lying around on the couch and feeling sorry for myself, not concerning myself with moving forward in any way. But then I dug in and resolved to fight the good fight. I've worked so hard to get where I am. Why allow myself to passively slide back into a hole?

I lost myself sometime over the last month or two and I hadn't even realized it.
Then Loribeth posted this:

Have I mentioned how thankful I am for the CNBC online community?
Someone is always there to be a friend and/or tell me what I need to hear.


Yes, life is stressful. Infertility, failed treatments, graduate school, moving cross country, changing careers, getting divorced, enduring a pandemic. These are all extremely stressful life events.

Yes, I am tired. I've been writing that since I started this blog and I've been thinking it even longer. But I refuse to give up. The dark emptiness that I had for years is no longer just below the surface, but I know it could return if I give in and give up. Despite all of the stress, I don't want to give up. I deserve to do better for myself.

All that to say... I canceled my surgery date for the hysterectomy procedure. The doctor always said it was my choice. She would support my decision either way, that she would either perform the surgery now or continue to monitor my health and possibly perform the surgery later. After a lot of thought, I've realized that I just can't do it right now. I cannot voluntarily deal with managing one more major life stressor at this time.

The good news is I signed a contract for a new job last week. I felt immensely relieved and grateful. But, this also requires me to move several hours from where I am now. My lease ends soon and I don't have a new place yet. So, at this point, I don't even know where I would be healing and recovering from major surgery if I was having it next month... And that would be assuming I was able to move all of my stuff somewhere before surgery. That, combined with the fact that I never did get any conclusive results that indicated I needed surgery immediately, I am just going to wait and have another check-up in the fall. If I don't have to, I don't want to. Not right now. No surgery for me this summer.

So that's one less stressor. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Scattered, Depleted, and Sad

I am emotional and that, my friends, is an understatement. Today has been, excuse my language, a royal clusterfuck. I just haven't been able to stop crying.

I left this morning to go run an errand in the city. Driving in the city makes me anxious. Running errands makes me anxious. The pandemic makes me anxious. Seeing everyone in masks is off-putting and makes me anxious (although it is much preferred to people NOT wearing masks!). I'm not the greatest driver and I made a really bad mistake while driving. Thankfully, I didn't wreck but I've been having a hard time forgiving myself for it all day.

And something was up before that. I started crying as I was driving to the city, thinking about how I've wasted my life and how I would've lived my life differently if I'd known I was infertile (while also remembering that I had, in fact, already written a blog post saying just the opposite--that I WOULDN'T have changed anything about my life). The rational side of me immediately piped up and tried to talk me out of this line of thinking, but... I wasn't successful with myself.

Oof. I've started crying again. I swear, I've been crying all damn day. And I don't know why.

But I can guess.

The pandemic, my teaching job ended, I need to move, I need to find a place to move to, and I am so so so sick of moving. Everything is harder in a pandemic. I'm stressed, I'm maxed out, I'm emotional. My mom has been a total jerk to me for a solid year and a half now and I have run out of ideas for how to manage our relationship. I'm still healing from infertility, I think I'm still processing my divorce (which I know was the right decision but it's still very difficult to process), and I have not had a break from major life stressors in NINE years.

Did I mention the pandemic? Everything was hard enough before the virus; now everything feels almost insurmountable.

Plus I've struck out on all three important errands I tried to take care of this week.

Did I mention I can't stop crying? That's my go-to response when I am completely scattered, depleted, and sad. I don't even know how to cope today. I got home from my unsuccessful errand, went to bed, and cried. Then I got up and did dishes. Then I went back to bed and read until I started crying again. Then I took a shower. Then I got back in bed but made myself get out when I determined it would be better for my mental health if I got up. I am driving myself crazy.

I know this will pass. I've had the same mental health my whole life. I have forty years of experience with dealing with myself. And I am soooo much more compassionate with myself now than I was in my teens and twenties. It still sucks. But it will pass.

This post doesn't say much, but I'm having a really hard day and I know that I am never alone, so I am writing this for the other women out there having a hard day too for whatever reason.

It sucks. But it will pass. And you are not alone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Congratulating Myself

My school year is basically ending this week. 
Teaching online school has been... A lot of things. It often felt exhausting and chaotic, but my students, co-workers, and I held on and got through it. I constantly wondered how effective my colleagues and I were being. However, it's the last week of classes and my students are still doing assignments and showing up for their regularly scheduled video conferences, so I think we did all right. I think my team and I provided structure, connection, and meaning during a critical time when that was what was needed most. I'm just sorry the school year had to end this way.

My students did so well this year. 
They came in timid and full of deficits in many basic study skills. So basically, they were normal middle schoolers. ;) The academic and social-emotional growth I saw this year was incredible. Some days were really hard, but the year was fun. I hammered the basics (math, reading, and writing) and taught them about other important things like manners, hygiene, and Gardner's Multiple Intelligences theory. My classroom was a place where they knew they could take a break if that's what they needed. I respected them and they respected me. I knew we had established positive working relationships when I realized how clean everyone was leaving my classroom every day.

I did so well this year. 
I jumped back into the classroom full-time for the first time since my years of trying to conceive and enduring fertility treatments. Technology had changed a lot, but human behavior stayed basically the same. And that's true for both students and co-workers, haha. I enjoyed teaching and I loved getting to know my students. I liked eating lunch with my friendly co-workers every day. There were a lot of stressful days and tons of awesome moments. Overall, I am happy to be moving on, but this will be one of those special years that I will always remember. I learned it is possible (and not hurtful) for me to work extensively with kids again.


Sunday, May 3, 2020

Staying At Home

How are you doing with all of this? 

Loribeth wrote a post and shared some reflective prompts posed by a scrapbooker. 
There are some great questions to consider in there. 

As for me, I've spent the past 7 weeks at home, venturing out only for the post office and curbside pickup at the grocery store. I'm a public school teacher doing my best to help my students get something meaningful out of online school. My weekend job at the hospital is on hold because they've drastically reduced staff in my department. Oh, and my lease is up so I'm renting month-to-month as I prepare to undertake another massive move. 

Some day, I swear, there is going to be a break in major life stressors for all of us. :)

In the meantime, I'll use these questions to reflect.

For some questions, I'm still thinking about my answers.

  • What has surprised you? What has not surprised you?
  • Who or what has impressed you in a positive way?
  • Is there one particular news article or story that stands out to you?
  • What memory or moment will you talk about in ten years?
  • What will you do differently when life normalizes?

For other questions, I have immediate answers.

  • When was the moment you knew this was serious?  

          It started feeling stressful toward the end of February and with each passing day in March. I was wiping down my classroom multiple times a day instead of my usual once a day. Then I read Jess's post about grocery shopping, so I learned I needed to go pick up some things. Little did I know that would be the last time I'd go to that store. But when I was removed from the schedule at my weekend hospital job, I knew it was serious. They reduced our department to just a couple of people and told the rest of us to stay healthy in case they needed us.

  • What has been the biggest change to your everyday routine?

          I don't get to leave the house for work. I really like the separation between my work and my home. There are many reasons why. One small reason why is because I don't have a good work space at home. Another small reason why is because I enjoy listening to music on my drive to and from work. Yes, I can listen to music at home, but it's not the same. Nothing is the same... But the worst part about not getting to go into my physical work space is I don't get to see my students in person. Teaching over video conferencing just isn't the same. 

  • What have you learned to do because of this pandemic?

          I'm using the internet in new ways. I'm ordering groceries online and scheduling a time for curbside pickup. I'm meeting with students over video conferencing. We are using the internet and online documents in real time together, so that's a cool way that I can help students read, write, and edit during online school. 

          I've also been using less and wasting less. Food, toilet paper, money, time spent in traffic.

  • What change has created the most disappointment for you?

          The lack of sports. I'm not an athlete and no one in my family currently plays sports. But they're all sports fans. And there is a particular sport that I enjoy and follow. And my students play sports. And my friends love sports. Sports are just good. They are something to train for, something to strive for, and something to celebrate. Sports brings people together. And then everything just ended. Abruptly. Ended for high school seniors, college seniors, and professional athletes. Ended for coaches, trainers, officials, ushers, and fans. Ended for the economy and individuals' livelihoods. Ended the seasonal rhythms, the positive anticipation, and the joy that sports brings.

  • What have you observed in your community that has been heart-warming?

          My favorite thing so far is my school district organizing to give every district employee a free box of food right after campus closed with basically no warning. Our food services manager made it happen and all we had to do was drive to the district office to pick it up. Everyone got the same awesome box. It was glorious: fresh produce, fresh herbs, boxes of dry pasta, an industrial-sized can of spaghetti sauce, bread, sandwich meat, a box of tissues, homemade cookies, tea, honey, and lemons. It brought happy tears to my eyes. That box gave me such comfort, care, and community in a time when I really needed it.

  • What have you truly enjoyed about sheltering in place?

          The fact that I have felt so grateful. I also feel very stressed, scared, worried, and anxious. Yet I am also very, very thankful. Staying at home all the time without a lot of life's regular distractions really makes me face my choices, and I am satisfied. I have resolved my infertility by choosing to create a life I want to live despite the fact that I didn't get to raise/love my children. I like my life for the most part. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm not where I was anymore. I'm thankful I went back to school. I'm thankful I moved to another state. I'm thankful I got divorced. I'm thankful I like myself, I'm happy at home, and I live with my boyfriend in a place that's full of warmth, laughter, and love. 

          I think what I have enjoyed most while staying at home is his amazing cooking. :)

What about you? What are some of your answers to these questions? What are your thoughts and feelings on your stay-at-home experience? Feel free to reply in the comments or leave a link to your own blog post on the topic. 

This isn't an easy time for anyone. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. 

And remember that we all have a strength and resilience that we never asked for.