Whatever that means
Sometimes I talk about things so I can feel them. Because I know I should feel them. Because feeling them will make me feel human (whatever that means). The previous post was fueled by genuine, heartfelt passion- a passion for justice. It is perhaps one of the few things I’ve actually felt this week.
Emotions are a strange land. They can rule and conquer you. They can inform you. More often than not, they just screw everything up and confuse the heck out of you. I used to jump into relationships based on emotions. But feelings change and relationships die. After years of slamming my head into walls, I hunkered down for a few years and licked my wounds. I made a conscious decision to be aware of the partners I choose, to be the one to do the choosing out of a rational mind. This meant that sometimes I found people who were good matches for my personality, who were kind and fun to be around that I just wasn’t in love with. So I’d talk about them as much as I could. I’d tell my family, I’d tell my friends. I’d text or email the beau constantly. To know that he was there. To remember that I was supposed to love him. And after a while, the emotions followed in line. Because emotions come and go, but the decision to stay with a person is an act of will.
Death, however, has left its mark on me. Family, friends, fellow church members, teachers, coworkers, and now students have all left this earth in a hurry. After years of practice, my grieving [and fight or flight] process has evolved into a sea of blankness. If I hear a fight outside my window and threats about a gun, I can coolly call for emergency services and answer their questions with a level head. Not only can I do this, I have. When someone dies, it seems I have become the kind of person who’s supposed to hold everybody together right after it happens. Then, when everybody is well into their repairing, I break down.
This Saturday, one of the students I taught died in a tragic car accident. There were no drugs, alcohol or shenanigans involved. She was even wearing her seatbelt but lost control of her vehicle in a terrible storm and crash landed in a tree. None of these facts even ripple on the surface of my emotions, but I have had dreams. No, nightmares. So I know the facts are buried inside my subconscious, waiting to erupt.
But the tragedy has built over the past week. One of my students has an extremely rare, life-threatening illness. Another has an incarcerated father. Still another is homeless after being put out by an abusive parent. Other than reporting the abuse and making sure the student with an incarcerated parent is not homeless, there is not much I can do for these children. These kids are pretty much my life; they are part of my family, and I love them. I am proud of every wise decision they make, and I suffer when they make poor ones. I want the best for them, but this past week has only brought them the absolute worst.
The problem is, at least for me, I don’t feel a single thing. I know these incidents bother my mind. However, I don’t perceive the sadness in my heart. I think my body is trying to protect me from it, but that is frightening. It’s frightening because I know it won’t be able to hold the sadness inside forever. It’s frightening because I don’t know when or how it will burst forth, or if I’ll even be able to control it when it does. So I’ve been trying to psyche myself into feeling them now, when it still matters by talking about it. I talk about things so I can feel them. Because I know I should feel them. Because feeling them will make me feel human (whatever that means).