Trying to process

I finally had to turn the news off this evening. My heart could not listen to one more minute of the school shooting. My head could not comprehend what I was seeing and hearing. And then I think of all of those moms and dads who have lost their world today – and they can’t shut it off. My tears blur my eyes even now as I type these words. As I try to process this horrific tragedy.

I think of the families who have lost small children, but I also think of the entire school community, and the town. I think of my own children and the world that they live in – so confusing and sad. And I think of my students. My classroom family. Those 50 children with whom I have shared the last nine months of my life with.

I picture their faces and try to begin to fathom what those teachers are feeling right now – the ones who made it out alive. How are they even beginning to process any of this? How will all of these classmates who lived through today’s hell ever, ever be able to walk into a school again?!

This time of year is always hard on me. One the one hand, I am very excited for a little break and some relaxing. I already have my summer “to be read” stack of books piled up. But one the other hand, I have a very hard time saying goodbye to my students. We have spent so much time together since last August. We have laughed and cried. We have learned so much about each other and about ourselves – together. There have been days when I just didn’t think I could make it – it has been a very challenging school year – but I did make it. I am not ready to let them go just yet. People don’t realize how much our classroom, our students, become like a family each year. And each year, we have to say goodbye. Goodbyes are hard.

And yet, next year they will poke their heads in my classroom and say hello and run and hug me when they see me in the hall. Those poor eighteen students who senselessly lost their lives today will never have that chance. Those teachers who were excitedly counting down to summer break with their students will not be going home tonight.

I just can’t understand why these innocent lives were lost. I just can’t bear this pain. I feel so helpless. All I know to do is to pray for peace and healing for these families and for this entire community. I pray that God will provide them with the will and the strength to go on. I pray for our country and our world.

I have two days left with this year’s class. You’d better believe that I am going to hug them tightly. I’m going to make sure that they know that they are loved and that it has been my honor to have shared these last nine months with them. And then I’m going to cry some more.

What I Can Do

Several years ago I read a book called Strengths Finder 2.0. At the end of the book was a quiz that helped the reader learn their top personality strengths. To be honest, I thought it felt a little hokey when I did it, but after answering a long, long list of questions, I felt like the results were spot on. My top “strength” was empathy. It’s days like today that it feels more like a weakness.

There are so many people in my world who are hurting. Friends and family are dealing with major illnesses. They are facing internal battles that seem to have no solution. They are staring down financial struggles that feel insurmountable. They are searching for something to fill them at the bottom of a bottle. And my heart hurts for every single one of them.

At night I lie in bed and cry for all of the pain that I see in the lives of those I love, and in the world around me. My chest aches, my mind spins, and the weight of helplessness smothers me. I would give anything to be able to take all of the worries and pain away from all of those I love.

But I can’t.

What I can do, however, is pray. And make sure that those around me know that I am walking with them through their battles. I can make that phone call, or send that text. I can mail the card, or sit and listen. I can embrace this strength and love hard.

It’s not my ugly

Sitting here staring at my computer screen with so much on my heart, but searching for the right words. When I started this blog several years ago, I did it for me. As an outlet for all of the things that life throws at me. I did it for me. As a way to process my feelings and frustrations about family and friends, work and play, highs and lows. This is more than just a social media outlet to blast out my “highlight” reel. I always promised myself that I would be real. My posts would be authentic and would share the good, the bad, and the ugly of real life. There is so much good in my world and I am a blessed wife, momma and soon to be mimsy, and I have some really special friends who truly lift me up. But I am also at times a messy wreck of a human being who struggles with confidence, has a hard time trusting, and feels hurt and betrayal very deeply. It would be a lie to only post the happy moments and not share the ugly.

One of my biggest struggles that I have lived with my whole life is the feeling of not being valued. Of being unseen – invisible. Of being taken for granted, not appreciated, and used. These feelings run very deeply. I have some thoughts about where those come from, and why they are such triggers for me – but that is for another time and another post. Today, I am broken. I am so wound up in these feelings that I cannot free myself of them to find any peace. And quite honestly I’m not sure what else to do but get them out here.

In the past, I would crumble and cry when I felt betrayed or disappointed in the actions and words of another. I would unpack my suitcase of pity and set up camp. I’m not sure when that changed, or what changed it, or perhaps this situation is different – but I am not sad or depressed or crying tears of despair. Today I am seething with anger and frustration. I am not hurt – because I am strong and have been hurt enough in the past that I almost don’t feel it anymore. I am mad. I am angry that I have been taken advantage of and used. I am livid that I have been treated the way I have been – unappreciated for my passion and heart and disrespected because of someone else’s insecurities.

As I type and cry I can feel it already – the sense of clarity and calm that expressing myself brings. I am going to be okay. I will learn from this and refuse to be pushed by a situation like this again. Life’s lessons aren’t always easy to take in the moment…but what understanding they can bring when I allow myself to feel all that I am feeling. I can’t just “let it go” without first processing it, understanding it and truly taking time to allow all of the emotions. But wow what an eye-opening process it is. No, I can’t just let it go – but I can see things for what they truly are, and then light it and let it go. I will not let my anger cause me to say things that I know to be true but will fall on deaf ears. But here’s the thing…I will use these feelings to help me become more of the person I know I am and I will not let it change me into someone I don’t want to be.

So thank you. Thank you for helping me see the reality of it. Thank you for pushing me to be so angry that I had no choice but to stop and work through it all – and learn the lesson that I needed to be taught. The lesson that this isn’t really about me. This is about you. And I can’t process your ugly for you. That’s your work to do.

Take it Easy

The minute I opened my eyes yesterday morning, I felt it. I felt that all too familiar pain in my body, in my joints, in my muscles. An all-over pain that makes it hard to even move at times. Before going to sleep I had made a mental list of all of the things that I needed and wanted to do with my Saturday. I had a full day to get all of the things done that lingered from the week. I had a full day to do the things that make me happy and keep me centered. But my fibromyalgia had different plans. I know that on days when my pain is high that the best thing that I can do for my body is to rest. I know this in my head. My body needs to rest. So, why is that so hard?

I got up, poured my coffee and began my typical Saturday morning ritual. Plan the week’s menu. Create a grocery list for the week. That was easy enough and didn’t zap me of what little energy I had. The next thing on my list was to decorate the mantle and coffee bar for Valentine’s Day. (Side note: I was pretty excited about this as I have spent the last month making shelf sitters and paintings, etc to use). By the time I had carried all of the decorations up from my craft room in the basement and organized them, I had to sit and take a break. Pain was now coupled with frustration! Thirty minutes later I was able to muster enough energy to decorate (a “task” that I was so looking forward to) and then hit the couch again.

Now, if you’re reading this and thinking about how whiny I sound, I apologize. Yes, I was a little whiny and upset about the way my Saturday morning was progressing. But keep reading, because I promise there is more that just complaining. There is a lesson (at least there was for me.)

As I laid on the couch, trying to listen to my body telling me that it desperately needed a day of rest, I tried to let go of my frustrations and shift my focus. I asked myself, why is it so hard for me to just rest? Besides frustration, what was I truly feeling in the moment? I thought a lot about what was so hard about resting. And here’s the thing – the feeling that was really eating at me was guilt. I felt guilt and shame. It felt selfish to be lying around all day and not “doing” anything at all. Even though it was what my body was screaming for. I was ashamed of the fact that I was laying around not getting things crossed off my list. Shouldn’t I be busy doing something? Anything? Maybe it’s a mom thing. Maybe it’s a teacher thing. Maybe it’s a lethal combination of the two. I’m not sure I understand it at all, but I know that it is something that I need to be aware of and to “fix” in myself. (More guilt and shame).

It’s okay to listen to what my body needs. It’s okay to NOT be busy all the time. It’s okay if the dog hair collecting the corners stays put for one more day. Rest is not a bad thing. Rest is a necessary thing. I do not need to feel guilty for taking care of my body and my mind. So, I did it. I laid on the couch ALL DANG DAY. And guess what, this morning I feel so much better. I still think I need to process through the feelings of guilt and shame. As for yesterday, I took a big step toward taking care of me and learning to rest.

Joy and Pain

Next month my husband and I will celebrate our first anniversary. Every day that I have been married to him has been amazing. I have done things and gone places that I never would have done without him. Marrying him truly made me feel like the luckiest woman in the world and I feel like I have it all. Including fibromyalgia. I was recently “diagnosed” with it and am really having a hard time learning to manage/live with the pain on a daily basis. It sucks. I’m not good at staying positive when I’m experiencing such pain levels each day. And then when I complain, I feel guilty because I should just be able to be happy with my wonderful life. I AM happy with my life – except the pain. And then I feel like maybe I am dealing with this because I somehow didn’t deserve the husband and home and children. Somehow I’m being punished for having more than I deserve. I don’t like the way that makes me feel either. Sometimes I just get mad. I am pissed that I finally found my happiness and then this is heaped up on me. And then on top of sad and mad and scared and okay I feel hopeless. I am not sure that I will ever be pain free again and that scares me to death. I can’t imagine living the rest of my life in pain and tired like I feel now. How am I even supposed to live like this for the rest of my life? Oh and then there are the conversations I have with people who tell me that I’m not really “sick” and that maybe the pain is “imagined” – those are fun talks.

I would like to think that I am a woman of faith. I believe in God and in his plan for my life. I believe that He is in control and that He loves me. I pray everyday. I try my best to live my life the way that shows the world who I belong to. But some days I fail. Some days I let my sadness or bitterness take over and I fall. I can’t just walk around all day spouting sunshinyness and pretending that I’m okay. YES, I have a joy in my heart because of my relationship with God. But I also need to be authentic and transparent and real. Life is hard. Life is painful. Life is running me over right now.

I know that this is just a season in life. I know that it will either get better, or I will learn to better manage my emotions that surround all of it. Either way I will not be stuck right here where I am. In the meantime, I want to be truthful about where that is and what I’m dealing with. Anyone can share all the good stuff. Everyone has a highlight reel that they want the world to see. But I want to share it all. Life is about the ups and the downs. It’s about the pretty and the ugly. The smiles and the tears. Joy and pain (haha…now that song is in your head…sunshine and rain).

So there it is. It will be an interesting journey. I am going to pay attention to all of it and listen to myself as I learn about who I really am in all of it.