Friday, May 19, 2017

Triggers, Weaknesses, and When It's Not about What It Seems

Here I am, on a Friday morning, eight minutes from missing my daughters' hair appointments. Last night, I missed my older son's high-school-band performance because I was giving a final exam and issuing final grades. This was more complicated than one might imagine because, at the school where I teach (blessed school), I record my grades in a green book; thus, I do the calculations. Nothing is automatic.

These students and I spent forty-five hours together over the course of five weeks. I spent another forty-five hours with a morning class: equally delightful but much smaller and without a student like the one who organized a feast for us so that--last night, as I was making calculations--I was eating undone empanadas, fried chicken tenders, and little squares of Cojack on a sturdy paper plate.

I start teaching again, Tuesday night. Between now and then, I'll wait tables three times, write a eulogy, write a research paper, and edit as many photos as I can. If you're astute, you'll have noticed no mention of my children, and trust me: they need my attention, too. I want to cry for having missed my daughters' hair appointments; each girl looks as though a mouse has slept in her hair and needs to lose the bottom eight inches. Homeschooling has been in the toilet since Christmas. Jim and I promised a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's as soon as he got a job, and he got a job, and my four-year-old is dismayed that it's looking like Monday at best.

But as of next week, my responsibilities will start to shift. I won't teach morning classes or wait tables. I'll catch up on photo editing (the events have been completely beyond me), reconnect with my children, homeschool, clean. I don't have words to express how excited this non-nester is to clean. 

I regret not having written more, over the past few months, about all the ways in which God has provided and even delighted. There wasn't time. There isn't time, now, but I feel the need to pause and reflect. I am stronger, faster, more capable of multitasking than I thought. I am more inclined to stand up for myself than I used to be, and in a more effective way. I bear a million stories. I become increasingly less afraid to tell them. 

Mostly, I enjoyed my work--all of it--except when I worked with strep throat, a cold, or a bladder infection. I could hardly generate a feeling when each of my sons underwent surgery. Jim spent a day in the ER with chest pains; I was glad for the excuse to call off work and vacuum under our couches. My dad spent a couple days in the hospital with some sort of mysterious blood loss; I was detached enough from the situation that he might have been a friend's dad, or no one's dad. A stranger. I could've almost had a feeling about not having a feeling, but there was no energy for such like. I just kept swimming.

Then, this week, I finally lost my shit. At the time, it was the strangest, most inexplicable thing. I was out-of-the-blue enraged. Jim was baffled. I've learned, finally, to pay attention to when he thinks I make no sense: not that he always makes sense, but overall, he's a pragmatic sort. I knew he was onto something, also that I wasn't prepared to talk about it; in fact, I kept hissing at him not to talk to me about anything, to just. leave. me. alone. I felt downright dangerous, murderous.

Yesterday, the call with the offer came, and I went from enraged to mildly pissed, a state in which I can have (as the song goes) just a little talk with Jesus. It's less talking, really, than listening: than prying my soul open like the shell of an oyster. In this state, I could see almost right away that my rage had been less about anything in the moment than a trigger. This is progress. 

Jim had been informed Friday that he would receive an offer in his range early this week. We were confident enough (and desperate enough for our apple cart to be righted) that I put in notices everywhere. Then the offer didn't come when promised. Without realizing it, I was cast back into the hell of my miscarriage. Mostly, I don't want to talk about this (and refuse to argue or defend it) but feel compelled to tell you: I read a book I cannot recommend that held a message I cherish, which is that healing is a tv word, that we move through life as people with holes. We do not heal so much as we learn to accept and even use our holes. 

Even very recently, I thought God wanted to heal me; now, I think Him far more interested in using me. His strength is made perfect in weakness, amen. Maybe the goal is to see weakness clearly and for what it is. Maybe the goal is not to overcome it but to push through it, by the grace and with the help of God, over and over again. Watch me put one foot in front of the other, perhaps with a tray on my shoulder. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you I'm not in pain. I'm going to tell you I love Jesus, anyway...and my husband, and my life.