Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hanging On...For Dear Life

My goodness, this past week has been packed with news and it's a little hard for me to take it all in right now. Here's what happened:

Monday: One of my former teachers committed suicide (the same day I was teaching and being observed)
Tuesday: My last day teaching in Tel Aviv and a lovely lunch with one of the teachers
Wednesday: My relationship of over three years ended abruptly and unexpectedly
Thursday: Mourning relationship termination, did get up and get dressed, watched Grey's Anatomy
Friday: More mourning, more Grey's Anatomy
Saturday: More mourning...but I left my apartment, got coffee and dessert with a friend, AND finished my presentation for class tomorrow (I call this progress).

Like someone told me just a few days ago: "Sometimes when one thing comes crashing down, everything comes crashing down." Right now, it feels as if those words have never been truer. For weeks now I have been digging myself out of the swampy black hole...with medical issues, academic problems, and a whole slew of emotional and social drama that I would be quite happy to avoid. And I know that breaking up with my boyfriend sounds like such a petty problem, but right now it is everything.

For three years, and almost four months this one person has been my everything and the love of my life.   So often I felt like he was the one thing that kept me grounded...particularly so far from home. I could go on and on about what an amazing person he was and how truly fortunate I was to have him in my life, but that would be accompanied by yet another crying spell (which is really the last thing I need right now). The point is, I've forgotten who I am. I feel lost and confused in a world that was already confusing enough. I need to be surrounded by the people I love, and I haven't even found the comfort of a hug.

I don't know why it is that the few people that DO know about what happened seem to think that I'm going to do something crazy (I have no history of diving off the deep end or anything), and I find inquiries such as "How are you?" and "Are you okay?" exceedingly annoying. What do you want me to say exactly? I'm too honest to lie just so that YOU can feel better about my suffering...seriously. If you were more realistic in your expectations, I would be happy to give status updates. I can't tell you that I'm "okay" -- I'm really not -- but I COULD tell you that I'm doing better than I was yesterday. I could tell you that I am satisfied with the baby steps I have taken toward okay-ness. I could tell you that I'm not okay but that I'm working on it...anything except "I'm okay."

Letting go was one of the hardest things I have done in my life. I said goodbye to someone that I loved deeply enough to marry and who loved me back. I said goodbye to a relationship that at one time we both thought would end in marriage. We went to hell and back together and leaned on each other when we felt like we could hardly stand. We endured thousands of miles of distance, air raid sirens, and the threat of war. I sent him off to the army and didn't know if he would come back. He supported me after I was injured in a car crash and lost my short-term memory. We have stood strong through all that life threw at us...and I just said goodbye.

I learned the terrible lesson that sometimes love is NOT enough -- that just because we loved each other didn't mean that we were right for each other. THAT is why right now I cannot stand, THAT is why I grieve, THAT is why I can't stop the tears. The more that that lesson sinks in, the more painful it is to accept...THAT is why I'm not okay and the reason why I need time to heal.

I promise more uplifting news in the future...but today, I needed to tell this chapter of my life.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pausing to Give Thanks

There are so many things in my life that I am thankful for, but there are also days when -- even though you know that you are thankful -- you just can't feel it. I may have had a few too many of those lately. I am aware of all of the blessings in my life, of the wonderful people who have crossed my path over the years, and I have become even more acutely aware of the little things (having been away from many of them for so long now). But right now, I just want to be thankful for LIFE. I may be so very alive that it hurts, but the pain and hardship is part of it all...and I have to believe that it leads to bigger and better things.

Today I learned that my high school geometry teacher took his own life. That's the news that I started my day with...the day I needed to be 100% focused on my lesson (and, of course, the day I would be observed). Death, three hours of sleep, and the profound question: how could someone who has touched so many lives value his own so little? My teachers have shaped the person and the educator that I am today, and he was one of them. I learned something from him, not about geometry (well, that too), but about life. He was a teacher who advocated for his students, who made them laugh, who rewarded correct answers with Jolly Ranchers, and who threatened to take away your chair if you didn't keep all four legs on the ground...and it wasn't just a threat.

I learned something about myself today too. I was reminded of the importance of valuing yourself and of recognizing the difference you have made in the lives of others, particularly your students. They DO remember the little things...they'll remember the Jolly Ranchers, not to lean back in their chair, and how hard you worked to explain new concepts so that they would understand. They may never know your first name, but they will know you -- the teacher, the coach, the mentor. Today I taught my last lesson with my eighth grade class; it was a lesson about superheroes. They may not remember the lesson, but if they use just one piece of knowledge that I have given them...maybe that's all it takes to touch a life.