Monday, August 15, 2011

Back from vacation!

I wish I could say my mind was rested. My body is. I exercised. I stuck to my diet, at least until the last two days. I read a lot. I got along great with my SO. But, I had nightmares. Kicking, screaming, crying in my sleep nightmares. I told everyone we met that I was a retired teacher. That was so much easier than saying a teacher on disability. I would not know how to begin to explain to a stranger that I was on disability. I know I do not have to explain but I am basically lying. Why would I retire? I loved my job. I still wish I could do it. I have to begin to accept that I cannot. I still feel so much anger towards the people who stopped me, even though they did not stop me.

It was my brain injury that stopped me. The only thing the people I keep blaming did was make me see that I could not teach and even now, I refuse to see it. I would rather focus my rage on them than accept where I am. Why is it so difficult to admit my own limitations? Why is it easier to make it seem like these limitations were imposed on me by others? I struggled and fought and failed and suffered trying to teach for four years after my surgery. Yes, I made a huge difference for some children. Yes, I contributed to the education of some students. Yes, there were some parents who were very grateful for what I did for some students. As a teacher, I was supposed to be able to teach many children. In previous years, I was able to teach over one hundred children in a year. I was able to collaborate with colleagues and contribute to the growth of the school. I was able to mentor new teachers, speak eloquently at parent forums, inspire minds, advocate effectively, and so on. Such is the life, the job, the expectation of a teacher. The thing is I was really good at it so when I was injured everyone just expected me to continue doing it but just not as well.

My doctors, my family, my boss, everyone just said that it was fine to just be an okay teacher. Just phone it in. Do the job and then go home. You don't have to be fantastic at it anymore. Just do the minimum and even then you will probably do a good job. A good enough job. Just say yes to whatever you are asked to do. Just agree with what you are told. Follow the plan. Stick to the basics. Go along with the crowd. It sounds so easy, doesn't it? I just couldn't do it. It was not because I am stubborn or defiant or a perfectionist. It is not because I wanted to fail or lose my job. It is not because I am in denial about my injury. It is not because I did not have help. I just could not do it. I tried really hard. No one can say I did not try. I gave up piece after piece of my job to make it easier to do the minimum. I relinquished control, I took on less, I rested, I accepted accommodations, I demanded even more accommodations but I still could not do it. It seems counter-intuitive that if I was a great teacher, I could not be a good enough teacher.

Maybe only another teacher can understand how incredibly complicated a job it is. Perhaps, there is no such thing as a good enough teacher. Every teacher is a great teacher. It is just that kind of job. It demands every ounce of your energy and every cell in your body. It demands all of your patience, compassion, intuition, creativity, ability and strength to go on every day. People envy the vacations a teacher gets but it is hard to imagine how essential they are and how often they are not enough to fully recharge the batteries.

I am not the same person I used to be. I need to begin to mourn the loss of that individual. Right now I know that it is important for me to let go and be sad. I will try to be respectful of those who tell me to be grateful for all that I still have but I know this is a period of intense letting go. It is going to be hard work and it is going to be painful but i have to mourn before I can move on. Please let me do that. Please help me to be sad, to bury what once was, to cry over what I lost. It is okay. I will emerge a stronger person after this. I promise. What was killing me last year, what I could not handle, was trying to be something I am not. I will be okay. I do not know when and I do not know how but I know I have to cry right now if I am going to smile some day.


Sachi Ezura said...

what a beautiful post. i'm so glad you're home! i want to hear more about the vacay. love you!!!!

Elizabeth, John and Jack said...

Glad you had a great vacation. This whole "acceptance" part is so hard. I'm still in denial....I think. Not working now, but thinking I will someday....we'll see. I'm a nurse and that's another job like a need to be really good at it. The minimum is never going to be good enough. I know that and am dreading the day they say I have to go back. I know today I couldn't do it well, when prior to all my mess...I was really good at it. Arggg...the transition. Best wishes working through it. You are not alone.