The emotional toll I took yesterday is lingering and I find it hard to shake my sympathies for my coworkers pain and my worried that her pain might become my pain some day.
I’m finding it hard to smile or to laugh and my friends, all going through their own small frustrations and sufferings, are unable to pull me out of this whole and I, in turn, am unable to help them too. And that’s okay. They don’t owe me emotional support on demand and I don’t owe them the same. We have to suffer silently sometimes. We all have to learn to self-sooth.
Today I’m choosing to put my headphones in and let music carry me to other moods. I’ve got my calendar out and I’m filling it up with some writing ideas. It’s looking pretty bare but perhaps one or two pieces a month is all I can, or should, ask from myself.
I’m looking forward to going home and being with my wife. She need not cheer me up and I don’t expect her to say the right things or the one thing that will get me out of it. She doesn’t need to do anything to comfort or cheer me. She just has to exist in the same general space as me and suddenly the world, and I, and right again.
Today was hard, emotionally. I’m working with a new employee who’s spouse suddenly died less than two weeks ago. She had only been here for 3 days before he passed and then stopped returning to work saying only that she was (quite understandably) having trouble coping with the loss.
I thought she would not be able to return at all but she called and asked if it was possible to continue her training and since my last class has already been released I had the time and agreed. When she walked in this morning I hardly recognized her as the same person I met two weeks ago. She has lost weight and her eyes—my god her eyes—they looked as though she were lost or still in shock. She’s seems present, but appears to have lost the ability to connect meaningfully with her surroundings.
I feel so bad for her, and at the same time, I’m terrified of her. I’m terrified that her reality could some day be mine and those eyes would be my eyes. All day I longed to be near my wife and I promised myself to spend a little more time holding her, looking at her, kissing her, and making sure she knows I love her in case one day it’s her struggling to cope with the loss of me.
I haven’t seen my favorite coworkers in over 4 days and you can tell we’ve missed each other. We’ve been laughing all day like it’s the last day before summer break and there’s no more work to do or work worth doing. I haven’t laughed this much in a long time and I feel lucky and incredibly grateful to have a job where I get to have fun and smile every day. I’m lucky to have bosses and coworkers who are also my friends.
Tonight is democratic debate night and just 30 minutes in I am both thoroughly entertained and 100% sure of my primary candidate choice. Still, I do wish the whole process was a lot closer to being done than it is now. I’m burned out on politics and I’ve never been burned out on politics.
I’m also afraid. I don’t know how I could process a repeat of 2016. I know I would live but my last shred of connection to my country would be severed. I would no longer feel that I lived in a just society and to continue to live here and to pay taxes might begin to feel immoral. It would be too much for my soul to bear.
Being out in the world is regressing me. I felt much better, much more myself and much more energetic yesterday but being forced out of bed and out of the house before I felt rested or ready is exhausting me and bringing my symptoms back and of course I left all my hard medications at home thinking I was over the worst of it and past the possibility of relapse.
Today is a “non-pupal contact” day at work which means most of my coworkers are still at home fast asleep. I also had the option of staying home, but I figured since the day would be an easy and quiet one I might as well try to make up some of those hours I’ve been missing lately. What I failed to remember was that these quiet easy days tend to be the hardest to get through. Time is dragging, and the boredom is exhausting.
I’m trying to make the most of this time though. I’m catching up on clerical duties and making time for my personal to-do list items in between tasks. I filled out the editorial calendar I printed last week, posted a new cutout poem on Instagram, and made it through the Heartsaver Instructor Essentials Online course too. It’s a long day, but it’s also one of the most productive I’ve had in a long time.
I’m off of work for the holiday which is about as much as the 3rd Monday in February ever means to me. The holiday was first meant to be a celebration of George Washington’s birth a man who not only owned slaves but fought for the formation of a country founded on stolen land.
Lincoln’s birthday was added to the celebration and though he’s a much more respectable man and more worthy of remembrance for me than Washington, but he is only one of many Presidents who have let women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community down.
So, I’m spending the day pretending it’s Sunday instead and getting ready for the workweek at a much more relaxed pace than I’m usual. I made sure to start my preparation early in the weekend knowing that I’d spend much of my actual Sunday out of the house. Tomorrow will be a sort of half work day. It’s an “non-pupal contact” day which means the district will be open but there are no students to transport. Most of my coworkers will be out so it’ll be nice and quiet.
Just knowing I get to ease into the week and that it will be a short week too makes the end to the weekend a calm and peaceful one. I wish every “Sunday” could be like this.
Today is the first Sunday of our new effort to attend family day every week, but to alternate the families we spend time with. Today we are with my wife’s family and next week we will be back at my brother’s house with mine. It’s been a while since we’ve come over here. My family pushes harder for these kinds of visits while we are the ones who have to do the pushing with hers. They love seeing us but it’s too easy to get into the bad habit of letting life get in the way.
But we don’t want to let life get in the way. We want to make sure to make the effort and to let people know we more than care, but that we also enjoy their company.
The visit has been lovely and lively too! It’s been a while since I’m been able to debate politics in such a riveting way and though we’re all liberals here we do have different ideas about how to move forward, bring this country together, and achieve our goals with a sense of compassion and inclusion. What I learned is that I might not be quite as liberal or radical as I thought and that I do in fact believe that the middle road is a respectable place to govern from.
Finally, after over a week of dealing with a sore throat, a cough, congestion, headaches, and sinus agony, finally I’m starting to feel like a normal human being again. I can breathe!
I’m feeling better but I’m not feeling well so I’m staying in and taking care of myself. I don’t want to have to miss even more work than I already have or have to going forward. This is a long weekend too so if I take advantage of the time and really rest, take my medication, hydrate, and eat right there’s a real chance I could kick this cold before the start of work Monday.
I’m continuing my break for to-do lists, obligations, and guilt. Stress has a major impact on my immune system and asking too much of myself or allowing anxiety over what I didn’t do to get a foothold will only prolong healing. All I have to do right now is rest.