Sadielady3's Diary

Sadielady3

Confident
My third period class broke me to tears today. I was teaching them something new- substitution method for systems of equations. Most students struggle with it- I've seen that year after year. This class was really trying to get it though. They were genuinely trying to do the work. We were having a lot of trouble. One of the students very quietly unmuted her mic on Zoom and said that she's trying but she just doesn't get it. She apologized to me for being dumb. Then other students typed in the chat that they were sorry too. A few other students piped up on Zoom as well. Then there was silence.

Here's the thing. I am a special education math teacher. Although I accidentally became a math teacher, I did purposefully choose special education. I wanted to help students who have deep struggles. This has always been my purpose. It broke me to have the kids apologize to me for struggling. It's my purpose to help you with that struggle. These kids don't know me so they can't see my heart as clearly as my past students can. I never want my students to feel like they have to be successful with math on the first go. The only thing I ever ask is that they give me what they can and try. The math will come if you work at it. But if you came to me behind with your math skills (and so many of my students do), how can I ask you to do something hard well when you're missing skills and information? I consider students successful if, after our year together, they have learned something, even if that means they still didn't master grade level content. Screw those artificial standards and arbitrary timelines. You are my kids and I want you to love math and grow. I want you to leave my room better than you came to me in at least some way. I want you to have gained from the experiences in my room, not feel more shame and sadness because you couldn't be perfect.

I told the students as much once I regained my power of speech. I told them that they were my kids and would always be my kids, even long after they graduate. I told them that all I will ever ask is that they try and make progress. I told them that the struggle is a part of learning and that things aren't always going to be instant and easy. I told them that growth is painful but builds you to be more confident and better. I went on quite a little speech to them. I'm horrified to think that my students don't realize how I see them and what an honor I always consider it to be to walk with them, albeit for a very short time, on part of their academic journey.

I've never viewed any group of kids as just another class. Every class I've ever taught has been unique and holds a special place in my heart. I may not remember every kid's name that I've had over the years (I've had somewhere between 800 to 1000 students at this point) but I remember every class and some amazing moments from every single one of them. Sure, I've found satisfaction in watching students learn math and know I aided that process but I've really marveled at the students who learned some confidence over the year, discovering that they, in fact, can learn.

I had one young lady my very first year of teaching who all of a sudden got up and stood on top of her desk (which made me really nervous, for obvious reasons). She started yelling (more nervousness) about how she wants to go back to her middle school teacher and show him what she can do now. She yelled out about how she wants to show him that she's not dumb and that she can learn. And then she looked down at me from on high with tears streaking down her face and asked me when I figured out she could learn. When did I know that she was smart. I told her that I believe everyone can learn. She told me that it was thanks to me that she could learn now and I told her that I had very little to do with it. This young lady would come in during her lunch break to work on her math. She stayed after school. She asked questions. She took notes and did her homework. All I did was guide her when she needed support. I told her all of that. She changed drastically from the beginning of the year when she sat quietly in the corner away from everyone. By the end of the year, she was a leader in that classroom. When I tested her at the beginning of the year, she was performing at a first grade level in math. By the end of the year, she had moved up to fourth grade (an incredible gain for one year). She nearly passed the standardized state test too, something that her beginning of the year data said was impossible.

I don't remember what skills she mastered in math. I don't remember what math she still struggled with. Hell, she could have shown no improvement in her grade level performance test and I still would have considered her a success. She grew so much as a human being that year. So few people get to experience helping others like that. While I know she did the hard work here, it was such an honor and privilege to get to be on that journey with her. I am blessed to be able to do what I do for a living. I wish the kids could see my heart. They'd never worry about making a mistake again in my classroom.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
And that is why some are teachers. Because it is their passion and their heart.

Maybe your T feels the same way, and he just wants you to try.
 

Sadielady3

Confident
@ladee , the thought occurred to me after I wrote that. I know a common problem I have is being way more critical on myself than anyone else would ever remotely be. The problem is that I deeply love my students but I deeply hate myself. I have endless patience and kindness for them and none for myself. I'm not sure I will ever grow to love myself (but I would like to) but at least reach a point of neutrality where I don't hate myself would be nice.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
I think I've always had problems 'loving' myself. I'm not sure what that means exactly. But I know I like myself. A lot. But not every day. Some days, like the past few, I'm cranky, anxious, restless, feeling myself getting impatient with myself. But I accept myself on the days that aren't all rainbows and unicorns.

So maybe if you set the bar more along the lines of learning to understand yourself first, get to know yourself. Because as you grow, you leave mom's messages further and further behind. For now, you are still in the shadow of how your mom conditioned you to feel so that you didn't shine brighter than her. Does that make sense?

Just give yourself time Sadie. None of us approach getting into serious stuff without trepidation and hesitation. That's very normal. And I've been reading you working things out with yourself. Making it a little less stressful.

You really are making progress. I know it doesn't feel like it. But you are putting a lot more positive spin on this than you were. So your 'self-talk' is working. It doesn't mean that you won't still be anxious or stressed, just means you are a few steps closer to doing what you need to do for yourself. And it's all ok. I know you aren't going to accept that validation, but I'll say it anyway.

Give yourself time. It takes time to get all the pieces of the puzzle in place before we start the real work. I'll keep saying this too. You got this Sadie.
 

Sadielady3

Confident
@ladee , I don't like myself a whole lot. I want to but I just don't really see the good. I'm trying. It doesn't help that I not only have a lot of things come easily to me and this doesn't but also that I have no compassion or patience for myself. I hope in time that I can learn those skills.
 

Sadielady3

Confident
Finished X's group for the week. Next up is the big appointment tomorrow.

Tonight at the IOP grad group, we talked about coping strategies. I talked a bit about my box but got some good ideas on how to create a travel sized option for when my life isn't lived solely within my four walls. Overall, a good session but nothing majorly transformative. They can't all be.

I keep contemplating taking a half day tomorrow since my therapy appointment is in the middle of the school day. I have definitely ruled out taking a whole day. The appointment does not interfere with my teaching responsibilities (no meetings or classes) and I am basically done for the day afterwards. Is it better to stay engaged in things up until shortly before the appointment or is it better to take a little time to ground and breathe before the appointment? I also have this whole teacher persona thing that has to wear off a bit before I simmer down to my more authentic self. He may get the teacher instead of the day to day version of me. They are a bit different. My administrator shared with me once that he wasn't sure what he was going to see when he observed me for the first time. Outside of the classroom, I am much more timid and anxious, like I am in real life. But in front of my class, I become this confident, funny, and powerful presence in my classroom. He noticed it to such a degree that he was compelled to talk about it. He says that he wishes I could be a little bit more that person outside of the classroom. The thing is that I feel really safe in my classroom so I can just channel the positive things that are floating around in there somewhere. I love working with the kids and that love comes out. I'm passionate in front of a class. That part of who I am doesn't need therapy. That part isn't broken. Maybe that part of me needs to stay out of the therapy room. I need to think on this.
 

Sadielady3

Confident
Today did not go at all as I thought it would. My T did not read my letter. I was surprised and he stated that until I gave him explicit permission to read what I wrote, he would not read it. The way he was acting, I thought for sure that he had read it. I did chicken out on the great reading of the letter though. My heart had been pounding hard before the session and I did not have the bravery to do it when given a choice. I did print a copy out and talked about parts of the letter though. I told him about things I had been doing and brought up the PTSD stuff. He told me that I don't need his permission to do anything. I acknowledged that I knew he's not my keeper but that I felt guilty for going down the path of a specific diagnosis without even mentioning it to him. He agreed that I almost definitely have PTSD and he thinks it's great that I found an online community for support. He said that I am wise enough to know what stuff is likely to be real and what stuff is likely to be crap.

We talked about "The Body Keeps the Score" for a few minutes. He has not read the entire book but he has read parts of it. I talked about my relationship with my mom and how as a baby she would struggle to connect to me. That relationship has not clicked my entire life. I acknowledged that the reason it is so hard for me to cut off all contact with her is because I am still trying to win her approval and her love. I told him that I know logically that if it was possible for me to win her over and gain love from her, it would have happened years ago but there is still that part of me that really wants that. We talked about how I need to be able to let her roll right over me without having an impact and why she affects me so greatly. I talked about my issues with my core beliefs. Thank goodness I worked my way through the graphic organizer he shared in group and journaled about it so I could think that out. I told him that I thought unlovable was the worst one of all of them. So, we're starting with that one.

And now it's time to go to group. So much therapy today...
 

Sadielady3

Confident
So, went to group tonight. It was okay. We discussed grounding techniques. Most people weren't really into it. We talked smack about football a bit and I talked about some random things. I was so tired. My brain just couldn't do more therapy after the session earlier today. My next session is on a Wednesday so that should be a bit easier and then I scheduled myself for Fridays after that point. That way as we start the EMDR, it'll give me the weekend to decompress and support on the following two days. Now, I just have to hope that the EMDR will help. Fingers crossed.
 

Sadielady3

Confident
I was at least a little productive today but not like I should have been. Guess I'll be working this evening.

I'm still thinking about yesterday's therapy session. I'm trying to take credit for the parts of the letter I did go through but I'm pretty angry and ashamed about the parts I just couldn't do. All of the parts I couldn't do are my feelings that are aimed at him. Didn't say the feelings are about him, just aimed at him. I know the difference. I know he'd know the difference. But still couldn't tell him.

I suspect that I'll probably get vaccinated around February or March. I've been worried that my T will make me go back to in-person sessions. I like having the distance of video between us. I feel a lot safer. I don't understand this feeling. I'm not sure what I think would happen to me in his office. I guess maybe he'll see something in my body language that I've been able to hide? I know him seeing more helps him to be able to treat me more effectively. I really do want to get better. No matter what, at some point he will push me to come in person. He doesn't really like video visits.

I've been thinking a lot about my childhood today as a result. I managed to survive and do things with my life despite the upbringing I had. I somehow found some level of success at what I do. I don't feel like I deserve any of it. I definitely have impostor syndrome. Yet, I'm tuning out on my life. I'm ignoring all of the good things that I have because I'm just getting trapped. Distance learning won't last forever. I've been starting to gain some new or at least growing friendships. I have an amazing husband that other women are jealous of. And in the end, I'm always afraid that it will end up getting taken away because I don't deserve it.

I know most, if not all, of the reasons for keeping my T at arm's length. I know that this behavior is a protection mechanism. It probably has shielded me from things in the past that would have hurt me. But keeping out the bad also keeps out a lot of the good too.

And after all this time the same burning question remains: Do you actually want to work with me and if so, why? Sadly, it's a question I'll never have the courage to ask.
 

Sadielady3

Confident
I just finished reading "The Body Keeps the Score". That book was definitely enlightening. If nothing else, it made me feel more normal in my feelings and behaviors based on my childhood experiences.

Towards the end, he talked about a type of therapy that had people role play the relationships from your past but to change them into your ideal version of those relationships. If I had to envision my ideal mother, it's actually quite simple for me. All I ever really wanted was to be loved and seen, appreciated for who I was. It would have been nice to be hugged and told I was loved. Sure, there were a lot of things throughout my childhood that were messed up but I think the biggest thing that messed me up was the lack of love.

So I'm going to write a letter, that I will never send. With all of the wishes that have sat in my heart for so many years.

Dear mom,

I wish I could have been the daughter you designed in your mind. It would have saved us both a lot of pain. I'm sorry that you can't see how incredibly dysfunctional our relationship is. I have so many memories of times that you showed me your true heart and where I really stood with you. Being told a 95 average in my gifted math program wasn't good enough and getting no acknowledgement for my many achievements and awards alone tells me how unloved I really was. Getting a perfect 800 on the math portion of the SAT in seventh grade and having you simply grunt at it and say nothing. Going to a summer program for gifted writers in eighth grade. Winning essay contests at both the local and national levels. Being the Poet Laureate of my graduating class. Getting a perfect score at a state solo music competition. Getting into one of the most competitive music schools in the country. Getting my masters degree with a 3.91 GPA (you made sure I knew that you had a 4.0 while working with two small children at home). Nothing was ever enough. Nothing.

Being told while in the hospital after my second suicide attempt that the doctors should let me die. Getting seriously ill with strep in middle school and being forced to go on a family vacation that nearly closed my airways by the time we returned and a neighbor found out how sick I was. After stepdad number 2 shot a hole in my wall and then punishing me because it was my fault for being a bad kid by cutting off the heat to my bedroom so as not to waste the money heating my bedroom, now exposed to the outside environment. Repeatedly testing my allergy to turkey by sneaking it into things to see if I'd get sick this time (and I always did). Telling me I'd never marry because no one would ever want me. Refusing to let me do extracurriculars because you didn't want to be my taxi (thank god for friends' parents/friends with licenses). All of those times you went out drinking and bringing strangers home for me to wake up in the morning and get out the door. All of those times when you'd openly mock me over things you didn't approve of. All of the forgotten birthdays and crappy Christmases. All of the times you dumped me on other relatives because you needed a break from me. All of the awful things you told my teachers over the years, despite them calling you for positive reasons. All of the times you forced me to watch my brother for days or even weeks while you went away on trips to Vegas or Paris or wherever. I didn't even take my first airplane ride until I was 23. You took my brother to Disney World but didn't include me. You couldn't be bothered to come to my graduation recital. You missed every single musical performance I was ever in. Being told I was an embarrassment when I was suicidal in high school. Being told I was an embarrassment when I was committed. Every single time I did anything to reach out for help that might dispel the illusion that you were a good mother I was attention seeking and selfish. Who looks at their daughter with stab marks all over her body and tells them that they are ashamed? Even if I did it for attention, shouldn't that have signaled to you that I needed psychological help? Shouldn't I have mattered enough that even the thought of some small embarrassment from the very few people who would know I was getting help have been less than the well-being of your only daughter?

But the worst thing of all of the things was telling me over and over and over again how I ruined your life. How I was the reason your life turned out the way it did. I didn't ask to be born! I didn't demand you raise me! You made the choice to get pregnant and follow through on that pregnancy instead of ending it. You chose to keep me instead of giving me away to someone who wanted me. I was a baby and then a child who had no choices. I did not consent to being a part of your family.

I have spent my entire life trying to prove I am worth something. I have spent countless hours worrying that I didn't do well enough or that something wasn't perfect and therefore people would leave me. I spent years playing the dutiful daughter, taking care of you. I have spent years and so much energy trying to figure out how to earn a place in your frozen heart. But instead, the simple truth is that you never left me and never found a way to love me. I have no idea if you ever even tried or simply enjoyed all of the benefits of having someone to manipulate and abuse. You've spent countless hours whispering in my ear, repeating all of those messages from long ago that my heart truly believes. I have no idea how long it will take me to shatter those echoes, crash those inaudible waves of sound into their last rock, to be absorbed back into the universe, and be no more.

I know you had a lousy childhood and went on to marry the wrong man and try to live the wrong life for you. I know you would have been far happier remaining single and just living some sort of glamorous life. I know you got married because you thought you had to based on your parents' expectations. I am sorry that you had the lousy abusive childhood that you did for as much your sake as mine. But everything else was ultimately your choice. You have needed therapy for so many years and you don't even see it. You don't see how bitter and poisonous you truly are.

So many people over the years have told me that I am a good person and that they love me but I never believe them. After the examples you gave me in generous, overwhelming supply, it took me years to believe that my husband really loves me and I still don't understand why. But I am going to figure it out. I am going to take that good hard long look at who I am and learn how to be better. And someday, your voice will stop resonating in my head. I am going to keep making the choices you failed to so many years ago. I only regret not doing it sooner. But now I'm ready.
 
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