On the eve of everything

Not sleeping. Feeling intense anxiety. It’s hot. It’s smoky. Katie and Millie are leaving for NYC tomorrow. Distant Learning starts next week. Technology training last week. I’m crying in the mornings. I feel such a profound sense of loss and fear. I want to curl up in a ball. I want to say, “Stop!” But I can’t stop anything. Not the frickin Corona Virus. Not Katie leaving. Not instructing students from behind a computer screen. Not the wild fires destroying our beautiful California. Not the in-progress re-model that’s costing me savings security. It’s all happening so fast and so slow and I am powerless. I force myself to put one foot in front of the other.

I. Have. To. Stop.

I am wrapped up in yarn and it’s pinching my legs, my arms, my chest–my heart.


Loss. Aware of an impending profound sense of loss.

I am naked.

Vulnerability (incompetence as the teacher who prefers pencil and paper over Google this and Google that, and a lack of financial resources so I can make different decisions) has exposed pent-up fear. I know, I am incompetent as a digital teacher. A fake. I like to plan. I like to know. I like to be in charge.

And I know, I know all the cliches about the only thing you can be in charge of is your attitude platitudes. But I’m just trying to be real. Tony Robbins can’t help me right now. THE WORLD IS BULLSHIT! Enough of the positive attitude. I need to vent. Shout. IT ALL SUCKS!!! Forget the silver lining.

“Oh, Ms. Barker, are you OK?”

No. I am NOT.

I want to be in my classroom with my students. I don’t want Millie to leave. I don’t want to carry the financial burden of managing a household expenses by myself any more. I want to be rich.

I know I have it better than many. I am grateful. But I am upset. I am sad. I am worried. I’m not my best self. I’m lost beneath a smoky, hazing cloud that I’ve been pretending for a long time isn’t all that bad. But it is. IT IS!

I write, but I don’t shout. I don’t share, at least not this directly, with others. It’s this silent, gnawing, aggressively throat-gripping ominous presence that grabs the keyboard and demands to be heard. Writing. My lifelong, best friend. She’s always there for me. She doesn’t judge. She allows. She agrees. She holds my hand and guides me to the place I need to be. The Journey. The Lesson.

I know that a lot of people reading this will relate. I know it sounds like I’m depressed or need anxiety pills or maybe you don’t like me for being so “negative” when my blog is about Life IZ Good. You’re looking here, perhaps, for hope. And there is. And I am, hopeful that is. But not right now.

Things will get better. Problem is, I don’t know when. In the meantime, this anxiety that I have never felt before at this level, is rumbling. I want to quit, but I know it would be foolish. Economically stupid. Yet, if I sold my house I could be free of the financial responsibilities and live where I’ve always want to live. I wouldn’t have to worry about money or teaching virtually. I could be still, at peace, near the sea. No responsibilities. Just me and the dogs. I could cry and not be judged. I could sleep in or stay up late and play with art and breathe without heart palpitations.

Or I could just grit through it, see what’s on the other side of this. Accept my emotions. Ride the roller coaster. Take walks. Find a groove amidst the pandemic.

I’m not going to end this post with a Hallmark card. Because I don’t know what I am going to do. Is this my heart speaking? Should I listen? Because I know, as poet Mary Oliver said, “Though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” others will want to “guide me”. And I am appreciative. But on the eve of everything I wonder, “Is it time?”

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