I’ve been trying to write about my feelings as we all maneuver our way through this insane path our lives have all taken. I feel like it’s good for my mental health. But today, I’m feeling pretty darn vulnerable. But I think it’s important I get it all out.
More and more days lately, I’m feeling like a failure. Have I done enough? Given enough? Been enough? To the ones I love? To anyone at all?
I’ve dedicated myself to raising children and teaching students. Of that, I am proud. But I don’t think I’ve done a very good job. There’s still so much more I could have given.
More patience. More attention. More lessons. More love.
And now, I’m tied to my house and I’m tired.
I woke up last night thinking I had the Corona. My back was stiff. Was it my lungs? Were they feeling brittle? Was I short of breath? Was that a vibration I felt in my solar plexus? Was I having chills? Was this the beginning of the end?
And if not of my physical health, what about my mental health? I’m an introvert. The first couple weeks of this whole stay at home thing weren’t so bad. If I’m being honest, I sort of liked it.
But now… now, I’m really starting to miss my daily routine, my students and their smiles, my coworkers and their sarcasm. My weekly trips to Kroger, my favorite table at my favorite Mexican restaurant.
I woke up this morning, thankful. Thankful the soreness I’d felt in my lungs is simply a knot under my shoulder blade from yard work, not the virus.
But still. I can’t shake this feeling that I’m just not good enough. Not good enough to mother my sons 24/7 with no break. Not good enough to be a good friend and daughter from afar. Not good enough to teach students remotely. Not good enough to write anything folks might really want to read. Not good enough to make any sort of difference in a pandemic.
Shakespeare wrote King Lear in quarantine. They say Newton discovered gravity. And me, I can barely do laundry and dinner, get dressed.
When life is at its normal pace, I can fake it pretty well. I can hustle and bustle and smile and teach, and I can be fairly efficient and fairly decent at most of it.
But when things have ground down to this — to slow motion replays day in and day out… I don’t hold up under scrutiny. All the errors appear.
When the days are stretched taut the threads will pop, the weak will unravel. I am a mousy, mulish mommy no body really wants.
My boys are in love with their daddy. They’ve never seen him so much in their lives. It’s like a carnival and he is their favorite ride. He carries them on his shoulders, drags them from his ankles on their bellies down the hall. He puts together their new bikes, blows up their new pool, and spins their world at his fingertips. Just like he does mine.
Me. I’m just me. Still here. Like I always have been. Tired and true, but nothing special.
I have children in other states who love me, but they’re grown with lives of their own. Time creeps and time flies. And I, I barely make a dent. Now more than ever it’s obvious.
This whole pandemic thing has me in an existential crisis, I know it has. Trying to figure out exactly who I am and what I’m worth. And whether or not any of it really matters. Coronavirus has so much power over my life, my thoughts, my loves right now. Everything I am and everything I do is so inexorably wrapped around it… and all of it, and all of us, are so very vulnerable.
I am a daughter of two seventy-something parents. Vulnerable. I am the niece of medically-fragile aunts and uncles. Vulnerable. I’m the mother of four children, two grown, two in the nest. Vulnerable. I’m the wife of a good man who loves us all really well. Vulnerable. I’m a teacher of 167 students I haven’t seen in three-and-a-half weeks. Vulnerable. And thousands of students over time I haven’t seen in some time. Vulnerable. I am a writer of essays and blogs and a novel in the works. Vulnerable.
I am all of those things. But who am I really? And is any of it really good enough?
I’m trying, but I’m tired. These slivers of day pulled taut and endless have me tired.
But I will keep going. Keep loving. Keep teaching. Keep writing. And maybe one day, it will all be enough. Maybe.
That’s the thing with existential crises… you really just never know.