Done with Teaching/Done with Obligations

Ever since I began teaching here in the middle of nowhere, the school has had a goal to improve state writing test scores. Because fourth graders have to take the writing test, I am responsible for preparing and implementing the test to part of my class. Last year, the principal suggested that I attend this state writing workshop in a city two and a half hours away. I refused because it was during fall break. Even though I did not end up going home that weekend, I still felt I deserved a break. It ended up that I withdrew from my antidepressant that weekend so it was a good thing I did not choose to do anything.

Anyway, the rest of last school year, the middle/high school English teacher has talked to me about attending the workshop. It sounds like she has taken a lot away from it which has helped her students’ scores. However, it sounds extremely long, boring, and repetitive and I have a hard time focusing and become very negative the longer something like that continues. And last year, I had no intention of returning to this school so I never expected to go at all.

I heard this year that the state is making changes to the test so it will not be implemented this year. However, yesterday, the English teacher sent me an email and told me to prepare because the workshop is coming soon. She sent absolutely no details though and in my research, I learned nothing.

I really do not see why it would be necessary to go in the first place. After all, the test is not going to be implemented this year. And I have already missed some days this year for being sick and I am required to attend a three day conference next week. I really do not need to be gone another day even though I still get paid for it because really, missing days just makes life more stressful for teachers. It actually creates more work.

Then, there is the reason that I am done teaching. I do not need to waste time and energy in order to attend this conference that will end up benefiting no one. That is the reason why I also do not want to take classes for my reading endorsement.

I talked to my friend about the test and the email but she was not very sympathetic. Of course, she does not know of my plan to leave teaching. I am not ready for people to know. I will talk to my friend when the opportunity arrives but I am not just going to randomly mention it.

My life is complicated enough right now without adding additional tasks. That is not even including everything going on in my head such as trying to fight my OCD (talked about it briefly at counseling) and trying to decide what I will do with my life after teaching.

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My Grandma

Both sets of my grandparents/family are very different. My mom’s family is very energetic. We like to have adventures. We like to get out and do something and have a blast. We joke around and play games and have made many fun memories over the years. I always like to go home when I know that the family is getting together.

My dad’s family is very different. Overall, they are serious. If there is teasing, it is usually at the expense of others. One of my aunts will not let me forget about some incident that happened when I was a baby. I am tired of her bringing up the story because obviously, I do not remember it and do not find it funny at all. This family would rather sit and talk than get up and do things. While the conversations, can be great, they are also more serious. It is my grandma on my dad’s side that I am going to write about today.

I have a really difficult time figuring her out. Sometimes she can be very supportive of me. There are other times when it seems like she wants nothing to do with me. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I got a birthday card that contained only an apology that it was late when it was not late at all. It actually kind of hurt my feelings because of the note and for her forgetting the date of my actual birthday.

When I go home to my parents (which does not happen very often), my dad always tells me that they want to see me. He almost makes it sound like an obligation and gets mad at me if it does not happen. But when I am home for only a few days, there are some things that I want to do. And it is not enjoyable if it becomes an obligation. I should want to spend time with them on my own will. And as an adult, I am free to make that decision. So it is obvious that my grandma cares in this situation.

Then, there was the ‘gift’ that I mentioned earlier where she gave me all of my old school pictures in a photo album. She did not keep a single photo because even my senior picture is in the book. It really upsets me that she does not care enough to have a picture of me on her wall. She knew that I did not want the pictures because when she gave me the book at Thanksgiving, she was very firm about me not leaving it. Of course I forgot to take it because it meant nothing to me. The grandma on my mom’s side gave me the same gift but it only contained the little mini-pictures and they were labeled and were in a rather special little photo album. And I know that the large school photos of me are still hanging up because I still see them when I go there. It is not like I want to see myself because I think that I am that great but I just think it is a sign of caring.

Occasionally, I will get birthday presents from my grandma and other times I do not. It is not that I expect gifts as an adult. But it is completely random when I do receive a gift. And I have noticed with my younger brothers that if they get money in their birthday cards, it is not even the same amount. My grandma will give gifts at the most random times though. I remember one time I was given pajamas to take on a school trip. They were not conservative at all which was kind of a surprise considering they were from my grandma. It was not a problem though because they did not even fit me. I guess it was the thought that counted. I have gotten some good presents from her over the years. Lately, she goes and picks up secondhand dishes and household items for me but what she does not realize is that I have lived in my apartment for three years and have everything I need. So they just end up going back to Goodwill. Again, it is the thought that counts.

Finally, there were the events right after the death of my mom’s mom. Ironically, my family was at my dad’s family reunion when my dad received a call that my grandparents had been in a car accident. There were no details at that time so my parents took off, leaving my brothers and I in the care of the people around us. I just had that feeling that something was wrong At one point, someone asked me where my parents were and I started crying. My grandma did not like that because we had no details. Then, later, when I was talking about the plans my family had with my grandma and grandpa from my mom’s side for the next day, I was told that the plans were probably off which really upset me again because I had just gotten in trouble for thinking negatively.

When the call finally came about my grandparents, my grandpa handed the phone to my aunt and made him take it. Then, she had a quick conference with my grandparents and that is when I knew something was wrong. When they finally decided to tell us the news, only my oldest brother and I were told. It was actually one of my aunts that took us home and everyone else stayed and my other brothers found out much later.

That night, my grandparents got after me for not eating. I may be thin but I do not have an eating disorder and also do not like being told what to do. After what I had been through that day, I did not think that I should have to eat if I did not feel like it. I remember angrily grabbing the pizza slicer (they decided they would order pizza since it was a crazy time) and cutting a slice in half. I showed them how angry I really was.

The last event that I remember from those horrible days was when my grandparents both told me that I needed to be strong. That really upset me. I had just lost an important person in my life and it was like they were telling me to show no emotion.

I just cannot figure my grandma (or my grandpa) out. It is like she cares at times but not all the time. If it were any other family member, I would say that of course she loves me because that is typical of most family. However, the actions do not always indicate love to me but rather resentment or not important.

Memories

I have a large box in my spare bedroom filled with diaries and photo albums. The box is very heavy because I have diaries from when I was in second grade. Then, there are the photo albums my grandma made, the one of my pictures, my high school memory book project, and numerous small photo albums. Yesterday, I decided to go through the box and see if there was anything in the box that I didn’t need to keep. I am keeping my diaries even though they won’t mean anything to me. However, there were some things in the box that I felt was not worth keeping.

The first thing I decided to discard was my 4-H record book. I was involved in a very active group. We made tons of sewing and craft projects and volunteered in many community projects. And for every single thing we did, we had a picture that went into our record books. And since I started when I was in fifth grade, I accumulated a lot of pictures by senior year.

The pictures were not anything special so that is why I decided to get rid of the heavy book. While I was in the process of taking the book apart, I looked at all the pictures of me. The one thing I noticed was that I was not very attractive as a kid. I have never considered myself pretty but I never realized my looks were that bad. My parents kept my hair short. I looked decent if I had long hair. I also had a very strange sense of fashion and would wear things like blue patterned pants or pink sweatpants.

I kept very few of the pictures from 4-H. There were one or two that I kept because I had decent hair. A couple of others I kept because of the memories. Otherwise, it was quite nice destroying pictures where I looked absolutely horrible.

The next thing I discarded was a photo album my grandma made me. It was a book of all my school pictures from kindergarten to senior year. There were a few pictures from my graduation from high school as well as my college graduation program (I gave the commencement speech). The reason I did not like the book is because those pictures in the book were the ones that had once been hanging on my grandma’s wall. It upset me that she didn’t want the pictures. I know those are the only ones she had because she included both the picture frame ones as well as the miniatures. The thing is, my grandma knew I would not have wanted it in the first place. She gave the book to me at Thanksgiving with explicit instructions not to forget it. I did forget it though. I will write more about my grandma another time.

My box is slightly lighter than before and memories that I would rather not remember are gone.

Good-Bye Teaching

Lately, I have been debating about whether teaching is what I really want to do with my life. I notice every day that students are constantly misbehaving for all teachers and they know there is nothing you can do about it. A lot of parents are not supportive either. They cannot even help their child have the proper supplies for school or their homework completed. This is only my third year of teaching and I cannot picture myself doing this any longer. However, I do not want to go back to school and I want a job that pays well so I can live. I am just not sure what I want to do with my life instead though.

With my first counselor, we talked a lot about how I hate this town and she and I talked about taking additional classes so that I would have the endorsement required by many schools in my own state (that is the problem with going to school out of state). I did the research and found a school that offered all the classes online and the application process was easy so I applied, got accepted, and was given a plan of study. Many of the classes I have already taken counted towards the endorsement. I was told I only had 11 credits left to take. Unfortunately, that is too many to take at once while working full time and when you suffer from severe anxiety.

Every day since I have last seen my counselor and applied to school, it has become more and more clearer to me that this is not my career field. And on Thursday when I saw my new counselor, I told her that. She and I talked about how I was exerting a lot of time and energy into a career that made me unhappy. Every day I wake up worried about going to work. When she put it that way, it is obvious that I need to get out.

There is one thing that is really making the whole situation crazier though. I applied to school too late in order to take classes this semester. But then the person assigned to be my advisor said I could start a class in October. I was told yesterday that I needed to call and get signed up. I do not want to waste time and money on a class that I do not need outside of teaching. But what if something changes and I have to stay in education longer? Should I take the class now?

I have no idea what I want to do or where I want to live. I am often praying to God, asking Him to give me advice about what my calling is.  I am getting very impatient about waiting for an answer.

I know in some ways I will be disappointing a lot of people around me but they do not need to know yet. My parents will be angry and try to tell me what to do. My friends might either be glad for me or wonder why I would choose to leave teaching. I have a feeling the town and the rest of the school will be surprised too. I do not need to worry about they think though. This career change is all about me and what will make me happy. And I do not need to be thinking about certain details yet. I am still under contract to teach until May.

Lonely Weekend Part 6,942

As I began thinking about writing this blog, it occurred to me that I have certainly been having a lot of lonely weekends lately. It is starting to become a horrible rerun and I am ready to change the channel.

My friend left last Saturday and got home sometime on Wednesday so that she could get to her practice. I knew I was not going to see her that day because of it but I still was excited that I would get to see her soon. And then Wednesday night, I got sick and missed school yesterday. I saw her for a brief second yesterday because I asked if she could possibly go to the store and bring me something. I also saw her for a brief second today because I managed to make it about three hours before I was ready to go back home. And I just have a feeling that this will scare away my friends for the weekend even though I am feeling a lot better and will hopefully feel nearly one hundred percent tomorrow (physically, not necessarily mentally).

Anyway, I have become aware that loneliness is a constant complaint of mine and wondered if maybe God was asking me to do my part in this situation. If it were not for my friends, I really would have nobody. They invite me on all sorts of events like going to the nursing home to visit their family or to go get their new car. I have always said yes to these trips because it means that I can get away from my loneliness for awhile. I have really come to enjoy these odd moments and always look forward to the next one.

I know that my friends are not expected to invite me on such outings. And they also have lives of their own that do not revolve around me. There are times when they need to attend to other matters and cannot always include me. I get that. But it also means that unless I want to continue all these lonely days, I need to do something about it. I am just not sure what. There are no groups around here for me to join. This community is filled with old people and the people that are my age only have interest in the rural lifestyle that keeps them here.

It makes me wonder why God would bring such a lonely, introverted person out here anyway. I have always had a hard time making friends. And now God is calling me to possibly make a few additional friends in addition to my two friends I have right now?

After being sick and spending all my time with online shows, I really do not need another two days of me, myself, and I. But I get it. I would not want to hang around with someone that has been sick.

Different Counselor

I was not sure I wanted to go back to counseling so when I received a call from the counseling office about a later appointment, I turned it down saying that I had something going on later that evening. I decided that I should probably continue though because for me, it is a choice of life or death. And with my uncertainty of careers, it is most likely going to be death. I called to make another appointment and learned that my counselor is in the hospital. I was given an appointment for next week though with the hope that she would be better soon.

I received a call from the counseling office today though. I was actually surprised when my phone was ringing. I was actually hoping that it was my friend calling because she left last Saturday to see her family and has been gone for the last several days. I have been rather lonely too. But I knew that I needed to answer the call even though it was not from my friend. That is when I was told that though my counselor was out of the hospital, she was not going to be able to return to work for several weeks.

I was told that I could see another counselor that apparently owns the office otherwise I could drive quite a ways to see someone else. I was hesitant at first. The secretary was not pushing me at all and said that I could have time to think about it. On one hand, this would be my ticket out of counseling. On the other hand, I knew that it was again a matter of life or death. Even though I have had a few good days, I know that I have no coping skills and will easily return to cutting and wishing that I was dead. I was not sure I really wanted to see another counselor but this will be my chance to compare and see if maybe there is hope for me in the middle of no where.

I am extremely nervous for this appointment. It is not for another week though.

Cell Phone Loneliness

I used to get really annoyed in college when my friends would text on their phone and just ignore me. I got even more irritated when we would be walking and they would say we needed to stop so that they could text someone. It got to the point where I would not wait for them. I did not have texting in college and while I sometimes felt like I was ignored because people would rather than text than call, I was still grateful that I was not attached to my cell phone.

I have texting now. Not that I text a lot of people. I really do not anyone that I really talk to. I have one friend that will text me if something is going on otherwise my phone is usually silent. That does not keep me from checking my phone often though when I am at home, especially on weekends. It gets to the point when I am so lonely that I wish for a text just so I know that someone cares and acknowledges my existence.

My phone has been on vibrate pretty much since I got a cell phone but I find that on weekends I actually will turn up the volume. I want to be able to hear when the text comes. I knew that this would be a lonely weekend. I kept my phone on vibrate because I did not expect a call. So when my phone buzzed yesterday, I got really excited. I was immediately disappointed though when I realized that it was just an app giving me a notification about something I really did not care about.

It is not that I am really attached to my phone. Before I moved here, I often left my phone in my room and would go the whole day without looking at it. It was kind of a joke that I was hard to get ahold of. It is a different story now though. I keep my phone especially close on weekends just in case. Sometimes I am lucky and my friend wants to hang out. And other times I am subjected to a weekend of loneliness.

Internal and External Depression

Depression is rooted in the mind. It is very internal. It is all inside. The overwhelming sadness, loss of interest, hopelessness, difficulty in concentrating, and thoughts of suicide are inside. Nobody can see these thoughts. A person feels them strongly  but unless you admit what is going on, everything you are feeling stays locked up in your head. That is a place that I consider safe because then nobody can say anything that might hurt me more.

I realized the other day though that depression can be external without admitting to anyone what is going on. They symptoms listed above can be dealt with externally which I realized is how I deal with the pain. I am able to hide the external expressions though. For example, I wear sunglasses quite often but not necessarily because of the sun. I wear the sunglasses to avoid eye contact. I do not want people to see the sadness and the tears that are welling up or the resentment I have towards this town. I also wear a jacket frequently. Though I really like the jacket, it also has another purpose: It covers up the cuts.  I often use bandaids as well but when the cuts are on both wrists or do not look like cat scratches, I need to find other ways to hide them.

Ever week at church, there is praise singing before church. The choir members usually stand up front and lead in the songs. Today, I wore my jacket to hide the cuts. During the service, I desperately wanted to wear my sunglasses to hide the tears that were threatening.

Even my apartment shows how I am feeling. When I am feeling down, the dishes pile up. There is little to no food in the refrigerator. I do not have the energy to cook so I make something fast like grilled cheese or something out of a can. The laundry piles up and nothing gets put away. Everything is too overwhelming and I just cannot do it. This is all external depression that anyone can see but if they do not understand, it will probably go unnoticed, just like what is happening right now.

When depression becomes external, it becomes difficult to hide. I have to live a secret life so no one notices what is going on. I am not sure why I am hiding something serious. There should be no shame in what I am experiencing. However, there are always the people who do not understand the pain going on in the mind.

Lucky Me

I guess I should have known it was too good to last. My students had a couple of good days and I had a little more faith in myself that maybe I could be a teacher and that I had just been impatient for my students to get the hang of things at the beginning of the year. Then today, I had more than enough to deal with and I want more than anything to quit.

I have two people come in throughout the day to help with one student. I know I should not be greedy, but they are not with him all day and he really needs someone with him one hundred percent of the day. I would not mind working with him but I have other students that need help too. Besides needing help academically, behavior can be an issue too. His behavior was something I had to deal with today and the principal was too busy to deal with the student.

Later, the principal came in to deal with the student and got mad at me for not doing anything. I have tried multiple things with the student trying to get him to behave and nothing seems to motivate him! He is in his own world and unable to focus on anything. He doesn’t care about what privileges he loses after a couple of minutes. That is why I called the principal to deal with the student. Despite the behavior being extremely horrible, I am at a loss.

It was right when the principal got after me that I wanted more than anything to quit. I know nobody is perfect and I should accept the criticism. I am just tired of everything I put up with.  And it is the same things every day!! Nobody gets it either! I think I would get more support if people got it!

Then, to make matters worse, I did not even get a break from the students today except at lunch. The only special the students had today got cancelled. This isn’t the first time it has happened. There were times last year when I didn’t get a break at all because I also had to do noon duty. Again, people don’t get it. Teachers need a break in order to keep their sanity. Instead, I get irritated with the students and lose my patience quickly. I also get overwhelmed because I do not get time to complete my own work. Whatever. It is not like I wanted to complete my lesson plans for next week at school anyway. Especially since it is way easier.

I have no idea how I am supposed to get through this school year. I want more than nothing than to quit. I can’t quit though. And lucky me I get to endure everything for the rest of the year!!

I very badly want to cut right now. Even though my children scissors are at school so that I won’t cut, I traded them with large adult scissors with the hope that I would not use them on my wrist for the fear that they are bigger. However, I am not exclusive. I also use many other objects.

Counseling Cancelled!? Part 2

If you read my blog from earlier today, you will remember that I refused to go to counseling next week because the time was very close to choir practice. I also mentioned that I was not sure how I felt about going to counseling anymore. Counseling Cancelled!?

Tonight I got word that since there were not enough people interested in choir, we were not going to meet any more. That means that I am available for that appointment next week, providing that they haven’t already filled it.

I am debated about whether I should call the secretary and say that I am now available since they had yet to find a time for me to go. On the other hand, I really do not think I want to go so if I do not make the contact, maybe I will get a week or two of freedom. I know that they will eventually contact me to try to schedule an appointment. Really, I am just avoiding the inevitable. I don’t want to quit because what if I end up at a really low point in my life again? But I am not really up for it anymore. I just don’t want to be a quitter twice.