Today was another hard day.
I didn’t sleep well last night. I was plagued by weird and vivid dreams, and woke frequently. My 5am alarm sounded way too soon and was not a welcome noise.
I dragged myself out of bed. Got ready for work. Pulled out of my driveway at 6:40 and headed for school.
I could feel the drag. I could feel the irritability. I could feel the emotions and darkness…right there, on the edge, where they have been lingering so recently.
I drank my coffee. I tried to snap myself out of it.
But I wasn’t very successful.
I isolated, avoiding other conversations. My phone has been pretty quiet lately, so I kept it on my desk, out of sight.
I took a lot of deep breaths. Dug deep for patience and reminded myself that it was Friday.
This afternoon, my teaching partner and I planned to walk our students to the public library. I thought this was a cool idea, originally.
That was, however, before the triggers started.
I work in the small town I grew up in. When I moved to this town at the age of 11, life was in a bit of an upheaval. Things weren’t really pretty.
I had not yet mastered my perfectionism, or my ability to hide our dysfunction.
I hated pretty much everything about this new town. The kids I met were mean to me. I was a total outsider. I was bullied and teased. It was, and still is, painful to remember.
I would escape, as much as possible, into the land of books. This is something I had done since about second grade, when my reading comprehension really took off.
Books allowed me to enter a new world. I learned empathy. I learned controversy. I learned about the world.
They were quiet and they were safe.
The new house that we settled in in this new town was only three houses away from the small public library. In fact, as I walked my class to this same library today, I walked right by the house–my parent’s home.
The first year that we moved to this small town, I spent every spare moment in the library. The librarian back then, Ms. Judy, saw me. As an adult now, I am sure she saw more than I wanted her to see, or more than I ever thought she would notice.
She saw the lonely girl. She saw the precocious reader, who checked out totally inappropriate books for her age (think VC Andrews and loooooots of Harlequin romances). She saw the girl who fought with her mother and hated the new town.
She talked to the girl who just need someone to verbalize to. She validated many of my emotions.
Somehow, when I took this new job, I really thought I could escape that little girl. I thought, somehow, that she wouldn’t really be remembered. Maybe, instead, they might remember the successful senior, who graduated top of her class.
Today, I walked into the library with sixteen students in tow. We climbed the stairs and greeted a gentleman sitting at the desk. I did not recognize him.
He took one look at me and said, “You must be the new teacher. Weren’t you the little girl who lived just down the street?”
I smiled and shook my head yes.
In my mind, I was frowning and wanting to deny.
But there is no point.
My therapist tells me that I have nothing to feel ashamed of. That I am a successful adult, who is resilient and who has overcome so much.
A success story.
And, perhaps she is right.
But the constant reminders of where I came from–the truth that I have fought hard to hide under layers of perfection and people pleasing–they are shocking my system.
Because, despite being back in the same town, I really thought I could keep these memories buried.
But, I can’t. They come out. And, with them, come all the childlike feelings of loneliness and insecurity that are so hard surrender to.
I made it through my day. I survived it.
But, it was hard. It didn’t feel good. I came home and really wanted to cry. I needed to talk to someone, to simply verbalize how I was feeling. To feel validated in my emotions.
Yet…who? Today, I didn’t have a person who wanted to hear it.
Or, more likely…who I wanted to burden with it.
And that…that makes it harder.
The last few weeks have been full of triggers. Memories, shame, insecurity.
I hate remembering. I hate feeling what I feel. I hate needing to talk and wanting someone to take care of me.
I feel worse when I don’t have that.
I feel insecure asking for it.
And, I feel ashamed admitting all of it.