Without warning, I gulp in a sharp breath, as though I’ve just emerged from hours underwater. My hands immediately go to my eyes, shielding me from… something. A known-yet-unnamed darkness that has haunted me for years. There are some nights when it drowns me and I wake up gasping for air.
My boyfriend stirs and begins to slip his arm around me. Instinctively, the touch makes my body jump. “Hey,” he whispers, “it’s okay.”
I blink my eyes open to early morning sun. My hair– long and barely manageable this summer– curtains over my eyes, the black streaks making a strange, abstract patchwork of the white ceiling.
My monster sits, waiting to see what I’ll do next. The adrenaline that flooded me during the dream and when I woke up begins to dissipate, leaving me feeling tingly, raw, and unbearably sad. Hot tears spring to my eyes and I almost lie down at its feet, ready to surrender momentarily to the darkness.
Then, I begin to breathe. I hear my own voice, steady and sure, in my mind. “Walk back towards yourself.”
I slowly inhale another breath. I count the seconds I can take to bring in air, filling my once gasping lungs. I count the same number of seconds to let it go. I remind my body I am not drowning now. My feet are on solid ground. I’m ok.
“Walk towards yourself. You need to walk back to yourself now.”
I let my muscles melt back into the bed. I let myself be held.
“Walk back to yourself.”
I guess I’ve been pretty quiet for a while.
I shared with EdWeek that, to be frank, I sort of got kicked in the teeth this semester. Not by my students– who are wonderful, magic unicorns of joy in a ridiculous world– but just by the nature of being a 28-year-old who is trying to adult and often failing miserably.
Between my own personal shenanigans (there is no better word. I’ve checked.), deciding to act in three shows back-to-back, attempting to ensure I still meet writing deadlines and trying to restabilize myself, I guess something had to drop. So, I’ve been a little quiet– at least in the digital space. Trying to keep up with the world at home made it hard to stay informed of the world abroad.
I’d be lying if I said I regretted any of it, though. As much as I’ve missed engaging in intense educational discussion, I feel like I’m finally starting to get back into my own skin. Or maybe I’m running away from the images of what I was. Anyway, I have more in-person connections with people I care about. I am writing and reading more. I am trying new things physically (namely CrossFit). I am quiet with myself more often.
So, what’s next?
For the first summer in years, I don’t have a job. With the exception of shows and rehearsals, I am sort of a dirtbag who has been going to the gym and reading books and writing.
Slowly, though, I think I am finally beginning to creep, to crawl, to walk back towards myself. It’s a strange feeling. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. But I’m happy that I finally get to try.