Life itself

It seems so selfish to go about my life as if I’m the only one who worries, is stressed out, is busy, or is conflicted. I feel as if every time I blog I have to boast about how busy I am or how complicated my life has been because of this or that.

Today upon opening my e-mails, our administrator informed the school about a recent death. He was a student. He was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend.

Suddenly everything that I’ve been dealing with lately seemed so small.

We were asked to talk to the students about anxiety, stress, and depression.

So here’s my chance to be uplifting, inspirational, caring, kind. And…. I blew it. I read talking points. The students just stared at me like deer caught in taillights.

The truth is, it’s hard to talk about suicide. It’s hard to know what the right thing to say is during a time of confusion. Pain like this is tough. I feel for my students because they are young and life is giving them difficult challenges. Some of them are having to grow up too fast. Some of them are oblivious to hardships. Some of them are independent. Some of them don’t feel they have a voice. What’s harder is that as a teacher, an adult, a mentor, I can’t always relate to them. This is where I’m conflicted because I’m at a loss as to what to say, how far can I invade their personal bubble, how long do I stay present?

It seems that during a death like this there are a million and one questions everyone asks, like why, just for starters. And me? I don’t have all the answers to the way the universe moves.

I sat back down after my award-winning speech on “I’ll be there for you,” and contemplated my struggles, my fears, my moment of depression. For one second, I realized that when depression kept turning off the lights in my life, I wanted to drown myself in sorrow. I wanted so desperately to feel. When that intoxicating desire to feel something took over I was a goner. Next thing I knew I was in the shower shaving my legs and the razor “accidentally” cut my ankle. I didn’t flinch. Instead, I watched as a tiny river of red ran down my leg and into the drain. After that I was addicted to that feeling. Why? Because I could feel something. I wasn’t numb anymore.

So it was back to the shower, time and time again. I never cut too deep, just enough to feel. I was playing with my life. It wasn’t until one evening my mom came home from work and hugged me. She said, let’s go get ice cream. Beyond my endless eye rolls, we went. We had a conversation about nothing. She talked while she savored her chocolate ice cream cone about how growing up she always wanted to explore the African jungle. I asked her why? And she said just because it’s something I know I’ll never get to see. I was puzzled. Why on Earth did my mother have a dream that wasn’t worth achieving. Intrigued, I asked her to explain?

She went on to say that sometimes we have a dream so big and unreachable that it gives us hope. It makes us get up every morning and work hard. It makes us cling to ourselves and to make peace with knowing that God’s will is what we should want.

God’s will. God? Oh yea? (smirk) Then the light switch got turned back on.

I suppose the point of all of this is that sometimes we feel like nothing will matter, like nothing makes sense, like nothing we do can help save a life. Who knew a hug, ice cream, and a unreachable dream would save my life. Give it meaning.

Maybe I should have talked to my students about my struggles to find hope. On the other hand maybe the talking points were enough. Everyone is different. Everyone loves, thinks, acts, feels, and moves differently. That makes us who we are. For me during a time of struggle, like this one, it’s not to necessarily try to understand, but to be there. To help by lending a listening ear. To be present. To be a smile. To be in this life.

On Sunday during church sermon it was said that we always hear the famous words of Mother Teresa, “God wouldn’t give you anything you can’t handle,” and it’s true in a sense. But in reality we should consider God not giving us anything He can’t handle. So we should give Him our troubles. He’s ready. He’s able. He’s for us. Give it to him. Or give it to me and I’ll pass it on to Him.

As always,

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