What Is Resilience?

And how can I get some? Sitting here on a blustery yucky Saturday afternoon having a complete pity party. Part of me thinks it’s valid, and part of me feels guilty because the sadness I feel can’t even compare to the sadness that Johnny or Kathryn’s friend who dropped Stella off must be going through. God, I wish I could hug them and tell them it’s going to be okay.

Actually today is the first day where I’ve had a whole day to sit home and DEAL with how I feel about this whole thing. I’m a teacher, at least for a little while, and when I found out, in second period study hall, I had to push it so far down into myself. If I didn’t I would have collapsed on the floor in front of a bunch of very scared 8th graders. “Just wait til 3, just wait til 3,” I told myself. All last week and this, it has taken all I have to not just freak out screaming at my students, “DON’T YOU REALIZE WHAT HAS HAPPENED HERE YOU IMMATURE FREAKS!”

I’m completely burned out from teaching as you can see. I just can’t handle the drama anymore. I’m counting the months until I quit and start a new life, but in the meantime, life has decided to throw me so many curveballs that my sense of purpose, of “self” feels as thin as gossimer. Yeah, I know, waaah waaaah waaaah.

I just feel like I have absolutely no resilience left. I’m completely burned out from teaching, right before Christmas I was in a major 6-car accident on a busy highway, and now this. My nerves are completely shot, and my reserves are empty. Just so damn empty.

The minister’s words, friends’ words ring in my head, “They wouldn’t want you to live your life sad” and again, what I feel can’t be what the family feels, what the close friends feel. So why can’t I get past this? How long are you supposed to grieve from something like this? What is the appropriate “time frame” before it moves from regular grief from a horrific tragedy into a “pity me, pity us, pity our plight” opportunity to fish for sympathy?

Or do I just think too damn much?

I had a dream last night that I was living in a different city, closer to home, in a newer house, with a dog and a new job. I was telling someone about Kathryn, how great she was. And I was happy. I was really, truly, happy. All the stupid aggravation and frustration and damn anger I now feel for my job was over, was finished. The sadness was gone. Wow, if only I could hibernate like a bear in a dream like this until it all went away, and I could bring the dream into my reality. I feel like I want to do that, hide away until my wounds heal.

Too, I think a lot of what I feel is homesickness. The place I call “home” now doesn’t feel like it, there is no sense of neighborliness and community that I felt and remembered when I went back to Richmond last week. God, I miss it. People you might not know personally but who you’d say “hello” to in the store or on the street. And it was bright and sunny. Cold as hell, but bright and sunny. So it felt warm, much warmer than where I live now.

An old friend commented that she was glad she had “gotten out of there finally” and talked about all the losers who had stayed. I couldn’t disagree more. I feel like I left looking for something, but it was there all along. People always talk about how dangerous Richmond is, and sure, I know it. But that’s where the community comes in, in some weird way. People hold together, look out for each other, ask about each other, because we know we are only here by some tenuous thread. Anything could happen, anytime. So when it finally did, we pulled together, and last Saturday 1400 people pulled together to talk, hug, and remember, to remember how precious life is, how precious what we have is. You can’t tell me that’s not community.

At my school people noticed how down I was, and asked what was wrong. When I told them, instead of offering comfort, they started to tell me what was going wrong in THEIR life, how they had gotten bit by a dog, or their neighbor was cutting down all the trees bordering their yard, etc. I wanted to scream, “What the fuck is the matter with you! I just told you some of my friends were brutally murdered!” Instead of offering condolences and support, they dumped their problems on me because my “news” made them uncomfortable. It’s like no one ever taught them what to do in this kind of situation. I kept thinking they were sorry they asked. “Hey, I don’t need to know your life story or anything, I’m just making conversation.”

My principal even stopped me when I started to tell him. “I don’t really need all the details,” he said, “I just noticed you weren’t your usual self.” At the beginning of the year he made this big speech about how we all need to help each other, how we were a community of professionals, of colleagues, there to help and give support. He even gave some analogy about if one of us is down in a ditch, per se, we should offer a hand and pull them up. Complete utter lip-service bullshit.

Whether it’s a cultural thing to this area or because the news was so horrifying that they didn’t know how to act or what to say, it still left a bad taste in my mouth. People, when someone gives you bad news, you offer support, a shoulder to cry on, a good ear for listening, and Kleenex. That’s what you do. I mean, good lord, isn’t that the human thing to do?

Thanks for listening to my rant. Big Love.

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