Monday, November 7, 2011

No Time for a Tantrum

For Sunday, November 6, 2011

I pride myself for being calm under pressure. I do not often feel any need to yell and I know when to walk away when I am upset and need time to settle myself before confronting an issue or a person that has me steamed. But I do recall one time when I completely lost it. Years ago, when I was preparing my Master’s of Education portfolio for a presentation due the next day, the house went dark. As I typed away, the power went off in the room where I was working and I lost roughly six hours of work. These were the days before computers automatically saved your work or recovered documents. Tired and overwhelmed at the realization I had to start over at 2:00am, I simply lost it. I sobbed, I screamed, I threw myself to the floor. I did not throw blame at anyone but myself. I hated myself for not hitting “SAVE” and I hated myself for having procrastinated on this portfolio in the first place. But after about a half hour of letting out my emotions, I picked myself up and I got back to work. I completed what I had to get done and turned in my work the next morning at 8:00am. On time.

I thought of this day from the early 1990s when I sat down to write tonight. Once again I am under pressure of a deadline. Grades are due on Wednesday and although I have worked steadily all quarter long, I still have a stack of essays, a pile of projects, and several portfolios left to assess before I can cross First Quarter grades off my list. I am tired after, in addition to teaching and planning work, I graded two groups of projects, a batch of quizzes, and a folder of reading guide questions already today. I want to give up and go to bed. I want to stop. I am negotiating in my mind how much time I will have tomorrow and on Wednesday to complete my grades. I know I will make it. I know I will succeed. I don’t allow myself any other options. But in order to make my deadline, I have to push aside other things that are draining me mentally and emotionally. And that is a challenge.

I often hit a wall when I am preparing a blog post. Some days my mind goes blank as I think of something to write about. “Did I do anything today that warrants a closer examination?” It’s a challenge that I usually enjoy for writing allows me a chance to find wonder in the little moments, or to seek the unique details of a life that is lived at the same place with the same people day in and day out. Then there are days when I know what I want to say but I stop before I exhaust myself. It seems that putting on a brave face day after day is a noble way to live, but truth be known, I long for a day I can fall apart, when I can just FEEL what I feel and not have to keep pretending that I am okay.

I empathize with those who are grieving or for those who have a loved one who is sick. I feel for those who are scared of the future or who are haunted by the past, or those who long for a different present. I nod in understanding of those who keep sweeping their emotions under the rug so they can maintain a steady pace moving forward. I understand that it is not easy to keep up the charade. It takes a great amount of energy to continue being so selfless, for doing what is right for those around you, for not adding to the work or the emotional turmoil of others. But hey. Maybe someday I can give myself the freedom to throw that tantrum in a safe room where no one will judge me. I can sob, scream, and throw myself to the floor one more time. Then perhaps I can begin to heal on the inside. For now, I need to continue to smile. I need to appear that I’m all right. Too many people are depending on me today and tomorrow and the next day....and next week....and next month...and next year. The tantrum will just have to wait.

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