Today, I felt like a normal human being.
It took a lot to get back to this point. Most of the work was done by the amazing people around me. The kindness that has come from friends, family, coworkers, my amazing wife, and even from strangers has been so overwhelmingly heartfelt, genuine and supportive. It is what has brought me back. The randomly kind flowers brought to me by a coworker, my wife cooking dinner on the nights when I was too overwhelmed to stop working even for a few minutes, a delicious plate of homemade cookies brought into work as a moral booster, friends sending emails insisting that I join them in something fun to take my mind off of sad things, friends sending texts knowing that I wasn't going to be able to respond. It has all been what has brought me back.
Last week continued to be awful. I returned from Florida and simply was not able to pull myself out of things. Once I allowed myself to admit I was truly still sad, things got easier. Once I no longer tried to act happier simply for the sake of other people, I actually began to feel genuinely happier. And then just when I thought I was coming out of things last week, work threw a real curveball at me. I got called to the principal's office. For real. There were some meetings where I offended some people. I stood up for the kids at our school who struggle with math and who I worry will be left to struggle on their own without the support that they need and while perhaps I stood up too loudly and too forcefully, I do not regret the things I said. Sadly, our administration didn't quite agree with me and I got called into the principal's office and ended up having to apologize for things I wasn't really sorry for.
Had this happened last year, I would have kept fighting. Had this happened last year, I would never have apologized, but in that moment I just needed the whole thing to go away. I have worked so hard these past few weeks to get back to a good place and all of this with my administration was truly just dragging me right back down. And while I will never, ever, change the type of teacher that I am, I decided that it would be better for me to change the type of employee that I am (at least for now). And so, I made a decision that sort of made my heart break, I decided to just let go and worry instead only about the twenty-one precious children in my classroom. I am leaving the rest of the fight for someone else. As I said, a year ago, I could never have imagined saying those words, but there is simply too much other stress in my life to take on one more fight.
So this week, I went back in to work and vowed to leave the fighting to someone else. I walked directly into my classroom early this morning and didn't leave for the rest of the day. My children made me smile in multiple ways and I was so happy to be back and focused on the people who are really important, my students. They allowed me to take those final steps back to happiness this morning. And by the end of the day, I actually felt rejuvenated instead of drained and exhausted. I felt hopeful instead of frustrated. I felt lucky instead of cheated. And all I can do for now is hold on to these good feelings for as long as they might last.