The day before yesterday, I got a card from my Grandmom, wishing me better days and enclosing a gift card. (I probably should have saved it for a rainy day, but I already spent some of it on a box of thank you cards and a new purple gratitude journal decorated with the constellations.) When I called to thank and update her, she said this: “I’m so glad to hear that you’re going back to your art.”
I don’t know exactly what it means, going back to my art, other than brainstorming a name for an Etsy store and reading a poem a day from the Learn then Burn poetry-teaching anthologies, but what a ringing endorsement of my entire existence in one short sentence. Throughout the whole breakdown process, my family has been unfailingly supportive, my mom, dad, and Aunt Connie listening to the same (already pretty much decided) decision-making perseverations, my ex-wife watching episodes and bringing pie. Aunt Connie even came to the school to help me pick up the first batch of my stuff a few weeks ago. My family is a work of art in and of itself, making it so much easier to make the self-caring choice.
So yesterday I emailed the principals and the teachers that I like best and today I faxed the form. I just happen to be resigning on the same date on which I left AmeriCorps five years ago—if something’s too sad, it sure can’t survive February, it seems. My closest teacher friend texted right away to send her support, and that’s pretty much all that matters from that building anymore. I’d expected my letter to be a little more flowery-grateful, but I guess I’d written them all the thank you cards I had.
I’m still recovering from the stress and depression, but it’s a good sign that I only took 3 out of the 9 Ativan that the hospital prescribed last month when I went in for chest pains on what would have been my penultimate day in the classroom. I still have freakouts that I’m not good enough, that I’m letting everybody down, that I’m a useless burden on everyone, but those moments pass, and I go back to my notebooks, markers, and Friends episodes until I start to feel like myself again.
In the long run, I’m not sure how the bills will stay paid, but I’m covered for now. While I take a break from teaching, I’m working at a university bookstore, which had been my day-job-job for on and off for about twelve years now. I love the heft of the textbooks, then Zen of the repetitive receiving tasks, the fact that the job asks absolutely nothing of me after I clock out. I get to feel competent for a while, and after two years of rotten struggle (and other things) that will be a relief,