Yesterday, I came to work dressed as a nun. I figured there is little else scarier than an English teacher/nun. As it turns out there is something scarier: an English teacher; newly (self) published author–dressed as a nun and verily well on her way to burn-out. I was somewhere between basket case and batshit-crazy. I spent much of the day blinking back tears and contemplating some kind of stress leave.
I let my boss have front row seats to my ‘state of mind’. Her first comment was a soothing observation about my not having had a “break”. Given that I did not teach summer school, I didn’t quite get what she meant. She had to spell it out for me. I spent a whole year working full time, while writing books and planning my wedding in my spare time. My summer was spent getting married, and publishing my first book. Now that I am at work, I am still working full time (and I have taken on a new course to plan and teach), and promoting my book in my spare time. Oh, and I am newly married–it is that magical time when couples’ thoughts turn to family planning.
Well…when she put it that way…It all but left me sobbing and saying, “This is the happiest time of my life….so…many….good things…waaaaaa”. She advised me to go home, maybe have a nap, and consider talking to someone….um professional. I did go home, and I meditated both, literally and figuratively, on what my boss said. I reflected on my childhood, and recalled how my parents handled themselves during times of stress and overwhelm. My parents’ generation were more of the ‘buck up and shut up’ generation when it comes to “Feelings Management and Expression”. Women especially were expected to tamp things down and let the valium deal with all that repressed rage. Gen X’ers like myself were encouraged to break away from that paradigm. Without role models, however, that task was easier said than done.
Curling up in the fetal position only works for so long, and it really doesn’t pay the bills. I had to take a few deep breaths, and allow myself to feel my way through this. If I wanted my husband to feel assured he wasn’t married to a raving mad woman, I had take the lead when it came to offering myself some patience and understanding. I had to be willing to “take a break” and not busy myself with judgment and self recriminations. I had to realize that sometimes the strongest thing a person can do is to admit that she has limits and will stop at nothing to honour them.
I returned to work later that evening to teach my evening class. I was still dressed like a nun, and my puffy red eyes added volumes to my scary teacher-nun vibe. I wasn’t right back to my ‘normal’ level of sanity, but I was much closer to the “basket case” end of the spectrum. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, and thanks to all that is holy (and perhaps Ozzy Osbourne) it wasn’t a crazy train. 😜