I used to feel really guilty and really bad about doing that, falling asleep and leaving A on his own with the kids, but the truth is this: If I don’t take time for myself and recharge, I’m useless. Cancer treatment, and the medication I take every single day to hopefully keep the cancer from coming back, on top of dealing with the after effects of one of the worst depressive episodes I’ve ever had , is a lot to deal with on any given day. Some days, my body, my mind, and my heart just need to rest. Last night was one of those nights. I have no shame in admitting cancer did a number to my body, my heart -literally, since one of the medications I had to be on causes heart damage and my course of radiation also had a pretty high likelihood of causing heart damage-, my mind, and my soul.
It has been a difficult number of months for me personally. My father’s health and physical abilities continue to decline putting more and more stress on my mother and sister. I am the shoulder to cry on and ear to vent to in my group of friends, and there has been a lot of crying and venting, for them and for me. I am a fixer. I want to solve problems and fix issues. There are situations right now I cannot fix nor can I solve. It is incredibly draining and scary.
Last night, when I went to take that nap, the thought going through my head was “I am responsible for me and those two little kids playing in their rooms. I am not responsible for everything else.”
I have to tell myself that over and over because on the personal side of my life, I feel responsible for EVERYTHING going wrong right and for EVERYTHING that’s out of place. I have to believe, as Henslowe assured Fennyman in Shakespeare in Love that sometimes we can’t do anything except trust because things mysteriously turn out well. I’m putting my trust in a number of people, and that’s really hard for me. I do not, nor have I ever, trusted people easily. That’s why I have a small group of friends. That’s why I don’t open up easily to others. I know what it’s like to be stabbed in the back by friends who were secret Brutuses. I know what it’s like to have your trust betrayed. So, it’s very hard for me to trust outside my family and group of friends, and to be honest, I don’t even trust everyone in my family. I just don’t give my trust easily. I’m hoping, and I’m not someone who hopes easily either, Henslowe is right. Things will work out mysteriously well. Things will be all right because right now, they’re not. They’re so not.
The school year is coming to a close. It’s been a good year for me professionally. I was named ELAR Teacher of the Year for my campus, a shared honor as two of us were named. I branched out to take some other responsibilities. Beginning next school year, I will also work for an educational company as a consultant in addition to my teaching responsibilities. I’ve been hired by College Board to score AP exams this summer. These may seem like little things, but for me, they’re huge. I continue to grow as a teacher, as far as I’m concerned, we should never stop learning, and to that end, I’m attending two professional conferences this summer, one week long and one long weekend.
My six-month checkup is beginning to loom large on the horizon. It’s at the end of June…June 29th to be exact. Right now, I don’t feel anything about it. My heart doesn’t catch, yet, when I think about it, but the closer it gets, the more my heart will catch and cancer will fuel my dreams.
Life has not been easy over the last three years. There have been months long stretches of heavy, hard things, not just cancer. Hard life lessons. I’m caught in one of those stretches right now of hard life lessons.
I told a friend last week as I cried on her shoulder -virtually, through text messages, as I literally cried, sitting in my closet where no one could hear me- I feel like Fate, God, whatever hates me. She replied she doesn’t believe in a god, but even if she did, she didn’t believe anything hates me. She said sometimes life is hard, things are hard. Last night, the hard caught up with me. I couldn’t take anymore -no one else’s worries, no one else’s concerns, no one else’s burdens. I had to shoulder my own, and last night, my body, my heart, my soul, and my mind craved sleep. So, I slept. As the cliché says, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Yesterday, my cup was empty. I had to take care of me. Today, my cup is fuller because I took care of me last night.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is self-care. You cannot take care of others if you pour yourself totally empty. You exist as a shell. I’ve done that over the last few months, poured myself completely empty. I’ve existed as a shell. I told myself no more. So, I slept. I turned off my phone. I slept.
I took care of me.