Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's not a bear...

The title of my post comes from my doc.  He explained my situation to me in way I found charming, engaging, and true.  It's not a bear.  I may think it's a bear and I am prepared for the attack, but in the end - it's not a bear. 

After my hospital stay, I've resigned to the fact that I'm apparently stressed out beyond what my body is able to handle.  I thought I was good.  I mean, it sucked to feel this way all the time, but I figured I'd be okay.  I could make it, one day at a time.  Until I didn't make it 100% to the end of a day.  It sounds like a little problem, but when you're a mom and a wife, it's not a little problem, it's a big problem!

So, basically what my doc told me is I need to learn how to control my stress and anxiety levels.  I'm not clinically depressed (which I was thankful for because there were days I just knew I was headed that way) but that I do live in a constant state of awareness.  I'm always on guard because I believe that each day I will be met with a battle.  And I am.  Daily.  Of my entire professional career being placed in the hands of a population of teenagers that do not care about themselves, or much less, my ability to keep my job.  Then again, that's not entirely true.  Some of them would not want me to get fired, they like me as a person and as a teacher; however, the educational system has disappointed them for so long, let them down for so long, and ignored them for so long, they have become an apocalypse of apathy; something nearly impossible to fix.  Yet, my self-worth became entangled in my ability to teach them (or raise them - whichever they needed), to make them better, and rather than lifting them up this year - I let the system and all it's quirks pull me down.  There is a healthy amount of fear and self-depreciation that comes with knowing you are being judged on someone else's performance.  No.  That is not fair.  Yes.  That is the way it is.

But, as my doc explained, I cannot live this way.  He said, "You're like the hunter that goes into the woods and hears a twig snap.  You know it 's a twig in your heart of hearts, but your mind asks you 'what if it's a bear?' and you ready yourself for the bear - always.  You can't do that sweetheart.  It will kill you."  (God love a southern doc!) He also told me a story about lab rats and a shock system (always fun to be compared to lab rats, but listen up - this is interesting).  One set of rats was shocked every six hours like clockwork.  As the sixth hour would approach, the people conducting the experiment would see the fur-balls scurry into a frenzy, withstand the shock and then go about their rat business.  They were never truly disturbed by the action because they knew when it was coming and they prepared for that moment in time.  When it was over, it was over.  That is how many of us live, that is how we should live, we should see the danger when it's there, respond to it, and then move forward not allowing it to control our lives.  However, the other rats were shocked at random times.  They never knew when the upset was heading their way and they lived in constant state of vigilance always ready to defend themselves against a seemingly elusive electrical current they could neither predict nor control.  Guess what folks - they died.  Dead. Dead. Dead.  So - you see his point?  (I know you all wish you had my doc right now - because, he is awesome).

So, I'm slowly but surely re-learning how to structure myself and my reactions to situations.  Having a very conscious understanding of what I do to myself helps.  I think deep down I've always known that the only thing I can change and control is me - we all know that and I tell my students this message all the time - but somehow in mentoring other people you get lost along the way.  My doc wants me to try some scientific intervention for this high level of stress, but so far, that has not gone well for me - gives me the jitters - so it seems mind over matter is going to the be the name of the game.  Love myself and accept myself.

What an appropriate time of year for this reflection - New Year's Resolutions right around the corner!  And this year, I resolve to love me - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I implore the prayer of serenity, especially accepting the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference!  And as luck would have, my devotional this morning was entitled "Love Yourself".  (Isn't it nice when things all line up like this??)

According to what I read this morning on http://adevotion.org/  - A Daily Bible Devotion, we are to love ourselves as we love our neighbors (Galatians 5:14).  But how can we do that if we don't love ourselves first?  Good question!   One that my devotion luckily outlined for us.

How should we love our self? We should be kind and respectful, just as we should be with others. We should forgive and forget the past rather than beating ourselves over the head with our failures and mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Why let them be an anchor holding us back from making progress? We understand we are to forgive others, but many refuse to forgive themselves. (Isn't that the truth!?!?!?!?)

Don't refuse to forgive yourself for the failures and sins of the past. God forgives you. Should your standards be higher than His? Since God forgives you, you should forgive yourself.  The command to love our self is not meant to make us selfish, but to take care of God's creation...Loving yourself means taking care of yourself. And it means accepting yourself as you are -- because God made you. (No, God didn't make you to be in the shape you are in now, but He made YOU. And as long as you keep condemning yourself you will stay in bad shape.) (What another sobering thought!!!)

God loves you right now. Because you are good enough for God to love, then you are good enough for you to love. Your standards should not be higher than God's. 

So there it is folks.  I spent too much timing worrying about how I was going to take care of others, and by others, I mean the kids at school, the situation at school, the educational system at school, and not near enough time taking care of myself in order to even be able to do it and it landed me at Gateway and Skyline medical center.  While both lovely establishments, I have no plans to return anytime soon!  I neglected my friends and most importantly, my family trying desperately to tread water in order to attempt to change a system of learning that I have no control over.  As Spring semester approaches, I will still do my 100% best to teach the children and ready them for the INSANE test they take in May that determines my career, but I will stop beating myself up for it when and if they do not understand it all.  I will learn to enjoy little victories, like a class laugh, or a moment where they get to be humans and not little machines of learning terms they'll never use again in their lives like synecdoche, trochee, aphorism, or didactic.   I will relearn to enjoy being a teacher.  Being a teacher and a mentor is what I do truly love to do and I will do it the best I can.

In the end, I will do my best to remember IT'S NOT A BEAR...and if it is, well I'll run like hell rather than sit around and fight a battle I can't win.  Another little expression comes to mind here at the end of this, something my mother used to tell me, "Choose your battles wisely, you don't have to fight them all..."

Don't ya just hate it when you grow up and mom was right all along??  XOXO Mom :-)

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