On Monday, a day off, I felt like garbage. I spent far too much of the day prepping for the week’s lessons, and by early afternoon I had a pain running down the right side of my neck and was cranky as a hangry toddler who’d missed naptime. I figured I’d been sitting incorrectly for too many hours, so I took some ibuprofen, even though I’m not supposed to because of my acid reflux, and then I piddled away what was left of my day, feeling even worse about how I was using my time.
School went all right on Tuesday, but I couldn’t stay awake in the afternoon to grade student work, my neck was worse, and I was still grumpy. I hated how another day felt wasted, but I couldn’t seem to get myself to do anything.
*Cue the migraine*
Thinking that there might be some connection between my neck pain and my ear that had plugged up several weeks earlier, I finally made an appointment to see the doctor on Wednesday to get my ear flushed out. I figured I could talk to her about the neck pain, and if nothing else, at least I’d be better able to hear my students again.
Sure enough, both ears were plugged. And that right one was super-infected, which might have been creating the neck pain.
I was sent home with an antibiotic (thank you, modern medicine) and instructions to rest, and then I did something pre-pandemic Rita never would have done: I called in sick for the next day.
I was pretty sure I could go to school and teach my two classes and go home. I wasn’t contagious, and I could power through on my migraine meds. It’s more work to set things up for a sub than it is to just show up and teach. Also: substitute shortages are a very real thing in Oregon, and I didn’t want to burden my colleagues, who would be asked to cover my classes.
But post-pandemic Rita is working to resist that kind of thinking and action. She finally realized that, hey, all that listless doing nothing wasn’t a sign of some character defect but was one of illness, and she needed to take care of herself. (Too bad she didn’t clue in and take care of her plugged ear sooner.)
So I stayed home, and I didn’t beat myself up for yet another day of doing a whole lot more of nothing much.
Not sure who needs to hear this (besides me, who needs to hear it regularly even though I’ve been through this cycle more times than I can count): When we can’t get ourselves to do things we want or need to do, it means that something is wrong. Not that something is wrong with us, but that something is wrong for us.
We’re not lazy. We might be conflicted, depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, bored, or sick, but we’re not lazy. Or undisciplined or too dreamy or any other kind of too much or not enough. (Lazy is word we often use when we’re too lazy to figure out a more accurate one, imo.)
Better to figure out what the real issue is and deal with it than to suffer through frustrating days wearing a psychological hair shirt. Sometimes real grit is doing a thing that feels soft, especially if you’ve been socialized to think that it’s your job to solve all the problems you see. There’s a line between rolling up your sleeves/pitching in/doing your part and sacrificing yourself in a noble but misguided (because futile) effort to put band-aids on hemorrhaging wounds. Seems a lot of us are looking for it these days. If you’re one of them, hoping my little story might help in your search.
And that’s all I can manage for a post this week. (See above.)
PS: A post by a blogging friend has me wondering if I need to state this clearly, so I will: I always welcome comments and discussion, even if I don’t ask a direct question to solicit them. To me, discussion in the comments is as much a part of blogging as anything I post, even though it can sometimes take me a bit to respond. (See above, again.) Feel free to chime in with your experience, your questions, your pushback on my ideas. I’m here for all of it.