As a secondary piece to that last post, I thought I would follow up with what happened next…after the E/N/T specialist appointment. As I had been given the information that there was a problem, somewhere in THERE- just not necessarily with my voice box and vocal chords primarily, I left thinking that I might need to look up an old acquaintance of mine: my dear friend I.B.D. Or, better known as Irritable Bowel Disease. I hadn’t really given too much thought or attention to him for quite some time. In fact, I had virtually ignored his presence in my life for about two years. Funny how old unwanted visitors can pop up at the most inopportune moments of our lives.
I was back in school Friday morning. I had slept off the stressful day that was yesterday: the day of the appointment with Dr. Camphos. In fact, there was more to that story, but I will get back to that in a minute. And, I arrived a wee bit late for work, but still under the wire. No worries. Yet. I get through the first part of the morning and send the kiddos out for recess. But when they all land back in after their first break, I start to get a heavy pain in my chest. It starts out as an ache and soon escalates to the feeling that a full-out sucker punch would bring. And visualize/imagine with me, if you might, that feeling of being sucker punched over and over again. Well, that was my day yesterday, friends. It’s called a flare-up. Be glad if you have never experienced one.
Long story short, after a day at the doctor’s on Thursday, I land myself in emergency for three hours on Friday. I just cannot get enough of the doctors. This one is the strong silent type. I have by now totally lost interest in impressing anyone. At times, I doze off from any given place I might be sitting. I am that tired and worn out. The final verdict is that I need to see my family physician; then this strong/silent type-guy sends me home with a prescription to hold me over until that actually happens. I also get a cocktail (one never knew a Friday evening spent in the emergency wing could be so enjoyable.) It’s called a pink lady. It tastes like chalk. Mmmmmm. Not really, but it did do the trick and remove that sucker punch feeling from my chest.
So, here is where I am at. Now. After having tried to process all the information thrown at me over the last couple of days:
1.) My vocal chords are okay. I just don’t know how to use them properly.
2.) My inward parts are not so okay. I also need to learn how to care for them properly.
3.) I need to make some changes in my life.
4.) I need to stop trying to please everyone.
5.) I need to start trying to let myself experience more of the joy of which I write.
So, I had two epiphanies. I had one epiphany while in Dr. Camphos office on the Thursday afternoon after I had rushed from the school and almost arrived late to the appointment. After I had collected myself, settled my nerves and gotten use to the new gag reflux I now know I have, Dr C. and I talked about my vocal strain. And I revealed to him that I used my voice inside the classroom in such ways that an actress might use her voice on the stage. I elevate sound to a higher pitch, as that is what I have come to understand that children prefer to listen to when they are young. I push oomph and enthusiasm into everyday speech. I make my exclamations louder than normal, my songs more lilting, my reading voice more entertaining. In short, I am an entertainer, along with being a teacher. And I am pretending in ways to be something I am not. Loud and raucous. Jovial and exuberant. Jolly and energetic. You know. The typical kindergarten teacher.
That is the clincher. Every day that I go to work, I have to pretend that I am far more exciting, entertaining and interesting than I really am. I do a great job at it. Everyone who sees me in action tells me what a great teacher I am. But I am taking on a persona that is not natural to me: for I am an introvert who masquerades by day as an extrovert. And I do so because I think that it is the only way in which to perform my job. This is a problem on many levels, but currently it is a problem because it is somewhat contributing to me losing my voice. Not good.
Second epiphany. I am sitting at my kitchen table surrounded by staff. We are having a school development meeting at my house because it is sometimes easier to get out of the building and talk than it is to try and find a vacant room. So, we are wrapping things up when the subject turns to personalities on staff and those people who have a caring heart. People really notice who is nice and who is just ordinary, average and unwilling to go the extra mile. Forget about the not-so-nice people; that they are noticed is a given.
To make a long story short, a staff member tells me that they thought I was upset at them yesterday. Yesterday. That was when everything was falling apart in my own little world. I try to wrack my brain. What would I have possibly done to make this friend of mine think I am mad at them? I mentally re-trace my steps from yesterday. I was on duty, I had not gotten my sub plan ready, I lost my preparatory period to look after an issue with one of my Educational Assistants, I was rushed as I left school for my appointment, leaving one of my students crying. I had forgotten my address for the E/N/T. I had almost arrived late.
You know. Little bit of a stressful day, people.
All I can think of is this: I was so caught up in my own story yesterday that I had no room to go and interfere with someone’s else’s story. In other words, I cannot imagine how she thought I was mad at her. I never had the time! And furthermore, this is a person on which I try to lavish attention and interest. I go out of my way to make this person feel special and cared for. The one day I could have used a friend myself is the day that this person notices that I am not my usual doting self. So my epiphany is this: it is hard for someone like myself to change personas when people perceive you to be something and further expect you to live up to their expectation of who you should be. In others words, how does one go about changing the rules by which they themselves have lived their lives? I have created this persona of being the nurturer and care-giver for others. How does one go about getting a little bit of that back? Goodness knows I need some TLC right about now.
I read the book Pleasers written by Dr. Kevin Leman this summer. I am all too aware of my pleasing personality. I know that I go out of my way to please others. I try to please in almost every facet of my life. This is a direct effect of this pleaser problem even on my health- most of what I have going wrong is due in part to me trying to please people. So, what to do? I am writing this out on (virtual) paper because I need to be accountable. Writing it is one way to be accountable. I also want to be honest. I am a woman with a problem. I am a pleaser. Yet I believe that there is hope out there for me.
So here is what I know now that I did not truly “buy into” yesterday:
1.) I don’t have to be anything I am not. Who I am is enough.
2.) Life is too short to waste worrying about what people think of you.
3.) I am responsible for being true to myself.
4.) If I want to sustain a long healthy life, I need to start looking after my well-being.
5.) Through faith and trust, there is joy and hope for me. I just have to claim it.
And I am ready to experience that hope and joy. As God is my witness. For He is to me: A very present help in time of struggle. And in time, with God’s help, the rest of my list will follow suit.