Saturday, March 5, 2016

Vulnerability, Feeling, Doubt, Pain, and Trying to Swim

Ok I'm going to say some things here.

I've been kind of drowning.

This current mess started in October and continues to grow.  I've talked about my invisible boy before. I worry and watch and try to see. But recently it's started to solidify for me that there is something wrong. I talk to trusted advisers who get quiet and say, "yes."

He has started staring at me.

And not like I turn around and he smiles and waves at me all goofy kind of staring. Like he's looking through me into my soul kind of staring. I look over at him, and he's looking straight at me and does not look away like normal folks would after a moment of eye contact. I always look away first. It has become unnerving.

Because in addition to staring at me, he gives me nothing. I don't mean "he gives me nothing" like I'm expecting some sort of tribute. I'm a bit of an empath, not in a psychic way, but in a "This is how I encounter the human species" way. I feel my way through and if that doesn't sound like a thing, then it's not a thing for you. It is a thing for me. I can feel you people.

I can tell when folks are bored or sad or angry or happy or excited or manic or flat or any number of things. I don't always act on it, but I often consume it. I bring your mood home to be my mood. This is a maladaptive trait sometimes, but in a classroom it makes me the teacher I am. I can tell, without having to ask, that you do not understand what I'm teaching, because I can feel it. I can tell that you like my lesson today. I know when you are hurting and I need to take it easy on you. I know when your frustration is about to boil over and I can try to alleviate it.

But it's like this one child is staring at me through a television monitor. He isn't actually in the room. Emotionally, I mean.

He is staring at me and he's not there and nobody knows who he is and he's in 6th grade and his former teachers confuse him for another boy with a similar name.

And I fully admit I am not trusting my gut on this one (even though it has been pointed out that I am never wrong--sometimes I don't get a bullseye but I'm always hitting the target). But I'm terrified of making a mistake and one single mistake feels like it will ruin this whole house of cards and he's reaching out to me but WHAT IF I'M TOO EXTRA FOR HIM? WHAT IF HE'S WAITING FOR ME TO DO SOMETHING AND I DO IT WRONG? WHAT IF I AM WRONG AND I SOUND LIKE A FREAK?



So this week I've been feeling it build up, the stress of knowing that I don't know, the choking feeling of wanting to do something and being afraid, the soul-killing fear of being right, the pain of all the past everything coming to bear, crushing me into paralysis.

I went and got a tattoo on Thursday. I walked out and felt better for the first time in months.

But I ruined it again on Friday in my religion class, when I talked about a former student of mine who committed suicide. Because we're studying Jeremiah and we read chapter 20 and we talked about feeling betrayed by God. Being tricked. Being angry. I wrote out and then read to them, out loud in the semi-darkness of my classroom, about my student and about his death and about his funeral.

They got the picture. I had them write for 15 minutes about a time they were either angry with God, or if that didn't ring true for them, with a person who had power over them. They wrote. They shared. Most were about when grandma or grandpa died, which was a relief. Some were not. I have work to do this weekend to respond in the best way possible.

And then I went out with a friend Friday night and talked, pretty much non-stop, for 7 hours. The night ended with me in her car leaning on her dashboard sobbing through similar words that I say above. I'm angry that nobody has seen him. I'm afraid he's not going to make it. I'm terrified of what I should do. I'm paralyzed by doubt. It's too much.

She told me to stop asking permission to do what I knew was best. That I was the expert right now. Talk to him. Just. Do. It.

I went home and, once I was able to get to sleep, all my dreams were preludes to a conversation. They were rehearsals.

Except for one. I stood across the street from his house and watched construction work going on. Work that took off the front of his house and put it on a hinge so you could pull it open like an oven door. I could see into all the rooms.

I woke to two feelings:

1. I really needed to go out with her on Friday and be vulnerable and share my pain. I've been walking around, for years, with friends I didn't feel I could do that with. Not and still walk away with any of their respect. I am so relieved and happy that being me was ok? It sounds ridiculous because I am often way more me on my blogs than I am in real life. But I was me last night and I needed to be.

2. I am not drowning anymore. I'm swimming as fast as I fucking can.

In the end, the message probably won't be for me, like I said a couple of days ago. This invisible boy will slip through my fingers and remain invisible, which will kind of permanently etch me as much as Andy permanently etches me every time I walk into that tattoo parlor to have him hurt me on purpose.

But I'm not going to stand in another classroom, ever, for the rest of my life, and think to myself, "what more could I have done? My God, I could have done a lot more."


  1. Good luck to you. This scares me for him, but it also scares me for you, scares me for everybody, because I don't know how to read this blankness—is it one that wants to take everyone else out too?

  2. I know. It scares me. He's so young but he won't be forever. And I get to spend half my afternoon with him here in a moment. I need to start finding an opening to talk to him.