A mighty struggle

Since I started teaching in August, I have been tackling a lot of triggers.It has felt very multifaceted…

It is related to the school where I am teaching–one that I actually attended as a child. It is related to what I went through. It is related to who I felt supported by–teachers–always teachers. It is also related to who I am teaching now, and how much I am able to help and support them.

Let me give you a hint…for my struggling students, the ones who remind me of me? Or the ones that have it way worse than I ever had it?

…I am never able to help them enough.

And that hurts my heart.

I did an EMDR session with my therapist a few weeks ago, and she said something that has really been sticking with me.

During the EMDR processing, I found myself really feeling pulled into a memory of when my mother moved us to a new town and we suddenly had a new family–brothers and sisters and a new dad. They weren’t married, but you get the picture.

My anxiety was new to me during this time of my life…I was a third grader. I was terrified to be alone. Terrified of being left. Abandoned. I experienced intense stomach issues. Fear.

At school, I would leave my classroom multiple times a day to walk by my new sister’s second grade classroom. Simply knowing that she was in there made me feel better. Just seeing her, without even needing to be seen by her, made me feel safer.

Here, I made a connection. When my life gets really bad…when I start to feel like everything is falling apart, I exhibit the same behavior. I made a confession I am not ready to publicly share.

Saying that aloud to her made me feel lots of shame.

She simply responded with, “Go with that…” which is just what EMDR therapists SAY during reprocessing.

I got stuck here, though. The next time she asked me what I got, I admitted that I was spending too much time worrying about her reaction to my latest confession.

That’s when she said, “Let me tell you what I heard you say. I heard you say that you were a little girl with lots of worries and anxieties and nobody ever spent the time to explain to you what was going on inside your body. You were, what, 7? You did not worry about the things normal 7 year olds were worrying about. You weren’t worried about when the next recess would be, or what was for lunch. The fact that you still do this sometimes? Is it healthy? No. But, it tells me how bad things get for you sometimes.”

And I let out a sigh of relief.

Her analysis of this situation has really stuck with me. It is something that, as a teacher, I keep thinking about. As a parent, I think about. And, as ME, I think about.

I have never thought about it that way.

I have never realized that the things I worried about as a kid weren’t normal.

I mean, yes…I know that they aren’t normal. I know not every child (thank god) experiences trauma and anxiety.

But, in my head, in my body…these things are NORMAL.

And that is what I have to change.

This is a moment. A target. Something I can see and something that I realize I can reprocess into something healthier.

I am so grateful for my amazing and supportive therapist. I have confessed so many things to her that I was just sure would have her packing and running towards the hills. Her abandoning me too is a great fear of mine. But, time and time again, she shows me, without judgment and with lots of compassion, boundaries, and empathy, that I am okay. I am struggling, but I am not so bad that I have to be cast aside. Time and time again, she shows me that she is still here, available to support me.

I am so very grateful and blessed to have her in my life.

So, yes. I struggle. I do things that aren’t the most healthy. I have experienced anxiety and depression for lots of years. But…I am growing. Slowly, but surely.

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