Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Day 9: Being Present

Warning: Emotional Depths Ahead

My mom and her wife came to spend the weekend with us.  With the weather as beautiful as it was, we spent a ton of time outside, going to a state park, a local arts and crafts fair, walking around the neighborhood and riding bikes.

We did some shopping and baking and had a fire in the back yard.  It was an excellent weekend.

Over the last two weeks or so, I've been feeling happy.  I'm not sure that I can trust my emotions, so I've been checking in with my wife to see if she noticed it also.  Normally, the first month of the school year is the worst for me and, therefore, for her as well.  I am difficult to be around, short-tempered and distant.

My attempts to not fall into this pattern in the past have been met with mixed results.  This year, however, my wife has said that I'm MUCH better.  She hasn't noticed the gloom and darkness that I normally carry around with me like the worst bouquet of party balloons ever.

My mother also commented on my attitude and personality this weekend.  She said that her visits are often tempered by my moods and, while she never feels unwelcome, that's not the same as feeling welcome.

She's not wrong.  This time, however, she said it was different.

"You are present. There is a completely different feel to the house and the interactions that everyone has."

My family has a history of emotional destruction.  When we are in bad moods, you can bet that everyone else will be as well.  I have tried to escape this over the years and have done considerable work on myself to that effort.

When I accepted this new job, I was afraid.  So much of my emotional state was tied to where I had been teaching and my feelings about that place.  When I considered changing schools, or even changing careers, I was concerned that I was putting too much of my unhappiness on my job.  The problem with running away is that wherever you go, there you are.

I had no way of knowing what version of me would be waiting when I got there.  What if all of the things that I found upsetting and unbearable about where I WAS working are all of the things that I find upsetting and unbearable about where I WILL BE working?

What if the problem isn't the situation, but the person experiencing it?

Of course, just because I need t work on myself doesn't mean that I can't try it in a new situation.

I had to take the chance.  If the problem is completely me, then I should know fairly quickly and then I'll at least have a fresh start in a new environment.

For the last several years, my Sundays have been mediocre to bad.  This is entirely my fault.  Waking up on Sunday morning reminded me that I needed to go to work the next day.  The stress and anxiety that I felt bordered on existential.

"If I am this upset about going back to school tomorrow, should I even be a teacher?"  I was constantly torn between wanting to go to bed early to be well rested and staying up late to squeeze as much "not work" out of my weekend as possible.

As Sunday moved on, I would get darker and darker, drawing further into myself.

This is no way to live, and yet I lived it and made my family live it.

Since taking this new job, I've been cautiously optimistic.  I haven't wanted what I've been feeling to be a honeymoon period, dropping myself back into old habits of cynicism.  I asked my wife to keep an eye on me.  I have been checking in with her regularly because I don't feel as though I can trust my own emotions.

She tells me that I'm a different person.

No longer am I the emotional black hole, pulling in all those inside my event horizon.
"Oh! You wanted to shine light and energy into the universe? NOPE!"

I am, in no way, foolish enough to think that this change has solved all of my problems.  No matter where I work, no matter what I do, I'm still me.  I have mountains still to move, but I think this has been a step in the right direction.

Yesterday, while not actually Sunday, I felt upset and didn't want to go to work today.

The difference was that this lack of desire was a typical "I don't want the weekend to be over" that most people feel, even those of us who love what we do.

It was the existential dread that has been my constant companion.

I'm feeling more like myself.  I am happy and I am acknowledging it.

I am letting myself be happy.


  1. It is great to see how someone else takes care of themselves. And how nice to have a wife and mother to reflect back something of what they see. Hope you have a great year!

  2. Good stuff!!! I had all those same feelings!!!


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