It still never feels like enough.
Some days, that feels crushing. The truth is, I get stuck there more often than I'd like to admit.
Getting unstuck from those negative thought patterns takes more time and energy than I feel like I have. I have an autoimmune disease that takes a lot of my energy regularly, and in the last six months, it's increased to fever pitch. There are days when I struggle to motivate myself to go from sitting to standing, or even to reach over and get my water bottle from my bag.
For me, physical weakness creates this surge of anger. I'm angry I have to deal with it. I'm angry that I can't just be normal.
Whatever that is.
And that anger spills over into everything else I do. It spills over into my relationship, into my classroom, and into my reflective time. I spend hours watching meaningless entertainment. I don't engage with my partner, or with my students.
So the kid who asks the same question the 15th time (after I've just answered it 14 times) gets a frustrated look. Or an eye roll.
And as frustrating as that is, when I give in to that frustration and let it show in my response, everyone loses. My students feel stupid. I feel like a horrible teacher (and person).
Worse still, I get stuck again.
It's easy to blame my circumstances. I have had unrelenting chronic pain for more than a decade - nearly my entire adult life and career. I struggle to breathe, walk, even get out of bed. There are lots of other parts of my life that cause stress and anguish and sadness.
But that's not good enough. My students deserve to be taught by someone who will understand that sometimes, you're so into starting the assignment that you legitimately didn't hear the answer the first 14 times. They deserve a teacher who doesn't get frustrated by questions about grades and points.
They deserve a teacher who will remember the Most Important Thing: that what they learn about history and English is not nearly as important as what they learn about being human. That the things they'll remember is the word of praise, the encouraging hug, or the hastily written note.
And equally, they'll remember the eye roll, the look of frustration, and the impatience.
The only way I know how to get unstuck on this is to talk about it. That's the purpose of this post, really. Better together has become something much bigger than what Andrew and I intended when we started using it three years ago. It has become something fundamentally true about both of us: that we need each other to make sure that we don't stay stuck.
In Virginia Woolf's novels, the characters who remain dynamic - who move and push through the challenges they face - are the ones who are redeemed at the end. I know life is not a Virginia Woolf novel, but in that regard, I think she got it right.
We cannot be islands. We cannot be in our own bubbles.
Life and progress, whether in or out of the classroom, is about movement and sharing and relationship. It's about realising that no one can get themselves unstuck.
We need each other.
This post was written as a flash blog post for #flipclass chat on 1/12/15. Join us next Monday at 5 PM PST to join in on the fun!