Another week down. One more week to go before case conference. As before, this week was one of anxiety and unabating fear. I’m unable to sleep restfully. I am constantly drained and tired. Caffeine now has little effect. I do not feel ‘with it’.
My marking has all been done, for now, in a frenzied and fruitless attempt to distract from the fear, to not show people that I am unwell. I am ashamed of being unwell. My officemates, my students, don’t seem to have noticed my voice shaking, the tears I am fighting not to cry. Or they haven’t said that they have. Fighting not to cry because I cannot possibly tell them what is wrong, is exhausting.
With exhaustion, the intrusive thoughts intensify, chanting through the students’ essay writing. The thoughts continue when the students are in front of me, when I am trying to explain something new to them. I hear the voices of self-doubt, self-loathing. I don’t bother to counter them anymore. They’re probably right. I am in a mess of my own making; it is me that is rubbish in relationships of any description. I am stupid, I don’t know what I’m talking about; I am no good. In some senses, maybe I would be better off dead. But I haven’t given in. If I can get into TC, things may get better.
By Saturday, waking early again, I am desperate for the emotion to end. I read from a book online, on therapeutic communities. It is vague, abstract, no real help.
But in its midst of scientific evidence for therapeutic communities, models of therapy, it refers to a poem by Jean Vanier of L’Arche, whom I was so glad to hear speak last summer.
When we do too much
not helping others to grow
or take responsibility for themselves,
are we not just servicing ourselves?
-seeking power and a pedestal?
To serve broken people
means helping them …
to discover their own gifts and beauty,
helping them to a greater independence,
so that gradually we may disappear.
Vanier, 1988, The Broken Body
I read it and remember his talk. I am calmer. It is OK to be broken. And finally, I cry, because I cannot know whether or not I will be accepted however hard I prepare; because imagining the pain of rejection from TC, is too much to bear. I cry, bent double, in physical pain. I cry until I sleep.
On waking, I remember someone telling me that God is in community. God is community (according to Genesis: .”we [not you or me] are made in the image of God”). I remember how held I feel when each year, I join the Taize community. I breathe.
For now, the emotion has passed. I don’t feel real, my body moving as a puppet, automatically, outwith my control. Smile here, sing that note there. I am dead inside, as cardboard. I have one more week. Then I’ll know. I just have to breathe, for one more week.