I should have known when the words slashed down on the doodling obscuring the curved and angular lines that were holding me there in that meeting I couldn’t even concentrate on yesterday. I should have known when my words held the sound of defiance as to why I stopped at 530 words. I should have known when I added words on a thread and then took them off again afraid that they would end something I had come to cherish. I should have seen the signs that my anxiety was growing into the stronger parts of my life. I should have seen. But I didn’t.
I should have recognized the symptoms when I awoke unrested and distracted myself from writing by reading and response to the thoughts of others. The signs should have screamed loudly when halfway to the town I work in I noticed my pack and everything I needed was left at home. I am glad I had the sense to pull over and stop to think out a solution. I am thankful for the school bus that stopped just down the highway halting all the cars so I could pull out and head back for home. I should have known when it took two more trips before my pack made it in to my car so I could drive to work, later than usual but still on time. I should have known when memories and phrases came flooding in and tears began falling as I drove. I should have known, but I thought I was beyond that. I should have known, but I didn’t.
I began to know when the students in the halls felt like a gauntlet instead of the welcoming and welcome smiles and conversations that I normally sense. I began to know when I did not feel enough emotional control to open my class to the students who relaxed in there on these cold mornings when they can’t go outside. The symptoms had been creeping up for a few weeks now and I had already called to get supports in place. I shouldn’t have been surprised when I went to see my vice principal and just stepping out of the public broke the barrier inside. But as tears began streaming without a shut off valve, I was surprised and disappointed with me.
Two years before I had been recovering from a depression and anxiety episode after the death of my father and the heart surgery of my dearest friend added to the breakdown of my son’s long term relationship. I had recovered enough to teach successfully, leading the children in two concerts in the interim that required teaching, coaching, encouraging, delegating, all the roles of leadership. I had become a part of the divisional organization for addressing aboriginal issues in our schools. I was succeeding, more importantly, I am succeeding to teach and reach my students.
I had made compromises to do so. I had locked the person away, not painting, not writing, not even pursuing relationships. The parts that the counselour had not felt necessary to deal with based on his living now and forward philosophy had acquiesced to the teacher in me and I numbed myself so much I could not even reach my artist anymore. I worked, had time with my kids and grandkids when it fit into their schedules, slowly stopped going to performances as sitting alone become more tiring then fun. – I should have known then since I don’t mind going places alone. I should have seen it coming as slowly my world became a screen – TV and computer, with limited forays outside the door of my home. I even stopped my camera walks. I had become a hermit. When I chose to step out of that cave, I should have known I would need supports in place. I should have known, but I didn’t.
“I should have known” — a powerful weapon against ourselves as disappointment in our not knowing better builds within the situation that occurs. I should have known, but I didn’t. If I stopped there, I wouldn’t be telling the whole story.
What I had known was that the break inside was occurring. What I had known was that if I didn’t break the hermitage I had created I would be in trouble and I kept reaching out instead of letting myself crawl back into the cave.
The first day I missed school, I knew that I would need to look at the triggers that were causing me to have anxiety in the house of me again.
The second day I missed, I knew that I needed to make the calls to start getting supports in place so that the “sassy brat” in me could have support in standing up to these intruders – anxiety and depression – that had moved back in without conscious welcome.
The third day I missed, today, I had the sense to go to my vice principal who I had admitted my struggle to weeks before and let the breaking be in private away from the children who my tears could have upset unnecessarily. I had the sense to call the disability caseworker who is working on helping me get counselling in place so she could be aware of what was happening. I had the sense to tell them the truth as to where I am at.
I am accepting the advice of my caseworker. I am taking two days to get my feet under me. My class materials are organized and my students have learned some independent skills so I have prepared them to progress a short part of the journey without me. I have left alternatives to my plans that allow non-music comfortable substitutes to work with the rhythm of words in stories and poems. I have left ideas for building in sound effects with instruments. There are rhythm cards and charts around the room and enough confidence in the students that they can teach the substitute as good review in their own knowledge. The teacher in me has prepared the space for me to face this unhealed boulder until I can chip it away and move forward again in my life with more health.
When my youngest daughter was 2 ½ she broke her leg in the green area just below here knee. The doctor told us that we would need to have it xrayed each year because a break in this area could cause the bone to grow crooked. If that happened, the bone would need to be rebroken. The excess bone that was growing in the wrong place would need to be scraped out and the bone reset so that it could grow straight again.
Times like this reveal that my spirit is growing crooked again. Breaking down is not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps it is a way for the great healer to open those places in me that are growing crooked so that that which is limiting my mobility in life can be cleaned out and my life can be reset to heal stronger and straighter than it was before. I have to choose to hope. And I have the resumé that gives me all the reasons I need to believe it is possible. I just might need a cast and some crutches for a while as well as a bit of physiotherapy to help get the muscle tone back again.