Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Tomorrow is a big day. It's a true return to "normal," a term I use loosely because I don't think I know what normal is anymore. But, it's my time to go back to being a productive member of society. Tomorrow is my first day of school.

I was given an amazing gift--a compassionate administration that saw through my efforts to look okay last Monday when I went in with my husband to attempt to split the getting-ready process between my two new schools and saw that I needed more time. More time to heal physically and not be in constant pain, more time to start the emotional healing process that I hadn't yet had much oomph to put into since the physical part was so consuming. It was a beautiful thing and, after an initial freak out and an Opening Day spent at home frantically emailing everyone and trying to make sure that my bases were truly covered at both schools, I surrendered to the time I was given. I spent many hours in bed, resting and not attempting to train for getting back on my feet. I did some preparatory work during the week but decided to spend most of my time to truly relax--I read and made counseling appointments and called the nurses to make sure that I wasn't missing some vital piece of recovery information. That was nice, it confirmed that I was prescribed laziness and quality time with the couch and/or bed. As I healed physically, the emotional side of things washed over me and I was so, SO grateful to have the private space to deal with the sudden crying bursts and feelings of overwhelming loss and sadness. This past Wednesday it was only the two-week mark since everything went horribly awry (or what had already gone horribly awry came to light). Unbelievable to me that it's only been two weeks--what was I thinking when I thought I could be okay to come back to work after only a week and a half???Thank goodness I was given the option I didn't think I had. The realization on Wednesday afternoon that only two weeks ago I had been pregnant and that now I'm not, missing a part of my body, and missing the first week of school was a trigger point for days of waterworks and anxiety and self-doubt. Did I handle it the right way? Was I somehow too optimistic? Did I set myself up for a devastation? (The answers are yes, no, no. I would have been devastated no matter what and optimism is just who I am. I had to get excited about my pregnancy, there was no way to see it as doomed from the start and ignore it. I worked too hard to dismiss it despite knowing deep down that we were totally screwed on this one.)

But now, on this Sunday afternoon, I am feeling incredibly anxious. And also strangely at peace. I know that coming in tomorrow is the right decision, because:
  • I can walk around the 1 mile circle in my development and feel ok.
  • I vacuumed today.
  • I can pass the vision board in the kitchen and look at it and not feel like my heart is breaking into a million tiny pieces.
  • I am wearing my fat jeans today, zipped and buttoned with nary a belly band in sight. I haven't, however, tried on my work pants yet.
  • At this point, if I stay out any longer I will just feel more overwhelmed and behind when I go back. Which won't be helpful.
  • I need a regular routine and schedule. I need for things to appear normal. I need to not walk my dog in the middle of the day and have people look at me funny who know I am a teacher.
But, at the same time, I am terrified because:
  • I have not exactly been keeping a normal sleep schedule. 6 am comes incredibly early. (However, I can take a nap when I get home.)
  • I have not had to be "on" for 7 straight hours, either physically or emotionally. I know that I can just do my best and fake the rest, but it is a little scary to think of how that performance is going to be so completely exhausting.
  • I don't know how many people actually know what really happened. So I guess I'll just go with "I had emergent surgery" and leave it at that, and I'll find out real quick who knows the whole tragic story.
  • I am afraid of too much sympathy. Kindness and sympathy are beautiful things, but when you are trying desperately to look and act like a normal person who did not have a traumatic event occur less than 3 weeks ago, it puts major cracks in your facade. I feel like tomorrow I will be a veneer of calm and collectedness, and I need to keep that thin coating intact somehow.
  • I did not have the chance whatsoever to set up my space fully in one building, and at all at another. August was a blur of amazing highs and the lowest lows we've ever experienced. It was not possible to focus on anything else for a time and then my time expired and I was in the hospital and completely unable to get myself into school physically. So I feel behind the 8-ball just from my own personal organizational standpoint. I am supposed to be a model of organization and time management and I feel slightly hypocritical at the moment, albeit for a pretty good freaking reason. Hopefully everyone will have patience while I sort things out this week and can be all set up for the third week of school.
  • I have been wearing cozy pants all week and am not accustomed to work attire. I am not even sure if my work attire fully fits me, I haven't done the dress rehearsal yet tonight. I am literally laying out my clothes for tomorrow so that I have nothing to decide first thing in the morning. And I want to look very professional and together tomorrow, for both adults and students alike. It's my first impression day.
  • I just have the first day jitters in general--amplified by the fact that someone else started my kids off last week and I have to jump into something that's already started. I know the first week isn't necessarily academic-heavy, but the second week is. I missed my relaxed acclimation window.
  • I have no idea how exhausted I will be by the end of the school day tomorrow. I have very high expectations for myself and I have to dial it back so that I can just survive the day, because by 2:45 I may be barely able to hold my shit together and in a lot of pain. I may not have the luxury of staying after for hours to get everything set up the way I'd like until later in the week. Which is unfortunate because I have an open house with parents at one building Wednesday night. Not terrifying at all. "Oh, you're the teacher who had a sub the first week of school!" That should be not awkward at all.
I am confident that it will not be a disaster. I am a professional, and I have spent a large portion of the weekend going over IEPs, brushing up on my personal professional development library full of strategies (organizational! study! memory! compensatory! comprehension! writing!) and information on particular classifications to refresh myself, since the last three years have been rather specific. I have a ton of information on autism spectrum disorders but it's been three years since I worked with a more diverse group of students. I know how to do it, I am trained and certified to do it, and I have done it successfully before. I actually have walked into a situation where I felt way over my head and it turned into three years of making a difference in a young man's life and creating opportunities that didn't exist before I finagled them. So I know tomorrow will be ok. It's just scary on so many levels. I think my first day would have been frightening without all this other personal devastation added into the mix. I am learning to be just a normal human being again, and so it's a little intimidating to add "and resource room teacher in two buildings with not entirely similar policies and curricula" to my list of things to accomplish. I feel like puking, actually. But at least hopefully I can do that tonight, and not all over my lovely new students.

I can do this. I can pretend to be completely normal. I can start the transition back to actual normality. It has to happen sometime, may as well be tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment