Becoming healthy–overcoming anxiety, setting boundaries, learning self-worth–is not a linear process.
It is not something that you think about and then, BAM! life is perfect.
It’s just not.
It is a lot of small steps forward and big steps backward. It is learning triggers and recognizing them AS they are happening…or, even, not until they have already happened.
Right now, I am in the latter category.
I am a teacher. I am a teacher because, when I was a little girl, suffering through my own trauma but smiling and acting perfect, the people who were there for me along the way were teachers.
Teachers impacted my heart. They made a difference.
That’s what I want to do. I want to help all of the sad kids in my class. I want them to know love.
…Even if it is just from me.
I have a BIG heart. But sometimes, my big heart is at odds with my big heart.
Sometimes, my big heart causes me more heartACHE. More pain. More anxiety. More struggle.
It comes from a lack of boundaries. From a certain distance from my own story–that distance that makes me forget that the sad, hurting little girl still lives inside of me.
Yet, it shows up. It shows up when another sad, hurting little girl comes to me. She cries because her mom and dad are fighting. Another day, because the cops were at her house. She shows me her foot, which is hurting, because she stepped on nails as she ran away from the fighting and hitting.
You see, she tells me ALL of this with a smile, as she blinks back tears. She also mentions that she has told no one else–not mom, not dad, not grandpa–because she didn’t want to add to the craziness of the fighting. She tells me she is “fine.”
My heart plunges into my stomach.
You see, I recognize this little girl. Really, I recognize her smile. I know that, behind it, is a hurting little person who desperately wants a hug, to be loved, and to be told that everything is going to be okay.
My own hurting little girl comes out–in full protective mode. She wants to help. She wants to make it better.
She asks questions. She investigates more than a teacher should.
She hugs this other little girl tight–often with tears streaming down her cheeks–and tells her that she loves her. She tells her that it is okay to feel sad. That it is not her fault. That taking care of mom and dad is not HER job.
And she curls up into her sad, little ball, when she realizes that none of it changes reality. The real little girl in this scenario still has to go home to fighting. To dysfunction.
MAYBE. Maybe my daily hugs are enough.
Maybe sitting this sweet girl down and telling her that it is mom and dad’s job to take care of HER–not her job to take care of mom and dad–MAYBE, it is enough.
Or maybe, like me, she shrugs it off.
Maybe, when she is 28, she will be on an airplane someday, fighting off her very first panic attack.
Or maybe, I can’t separate my own shit from my students’. It is so muddy.
Student trauma is SO VERY MUCH more prevalent than college ever led me to believe.
I want to control it. To make it stop.
But I don’t have that power.
And, God….does that rip me apart.