On Tuesday morning, I arrive promptly. Not arriving on time is not tolerated here; whatever state you are in, you have to be on time. I sit – calmly – zoned out. I have not slept last night, nor have I slept properly for weeks. I sit calmly, too, through the opening agenda items, almost forgetting what is to come, as I focus instead on what is being said.
But then I am invited to speak. And the terror rushes back at me. And I start to shake, and my right side goes into spasm again, and I can’t speak. I stutter. And then there is noise outside, so I am stopped and then invited to start again. My voice doesn’t sound like mine, barely audible, stammering through what is written in front of me. And quick – because I don’t want to take up more time than I am allowed to, and I think what I have written might be too long. I am not the academic anymore – and without that identity, I am barely there.
Then comes questions. About my working hours. I try to explain that my work are supportive, and that I don’t have “working hours” as such, but it feels like it isn’t enough, and I break down and cry in front of them. I am not sure whether I have said or done enough, because I have to then honestly say that I cannot withstand conflict, either. And that I don’t expect that being in the TC will be easy on me, that it will be painful. I hear “there is brittleness, there” – that I won’t cope easily with being challenged. I am brittle. I despair.
But I am voted in. Unanimously. And there is still concern about my workload, but I am in. It feels like I have been relieved of a ten-tonne weight. For a few days after that, I still do not sleep well – waking two or three hours before my alarm, falling asleep five hours before it. But since then, I have rested. I have swum, and had two nights of eight hours’ sleep. I feel ready to face the TC in the morning.
Ready – but apprehensive. I will have to return to the past, to the emotional unavailability of both my parents; to life at school, at home. On some days, I am very brittle indeed. And my old coping mechanisms aren’t a valid option anymore. I don’t know how I will cope with this. Whether I will cope. After service this morning, after my reflection, someone I’d never met before – but a lay preacher – told me, ‘I can tell; God’s got His hand on you’. If I am brittle, then God is resilient. If God is resilient, I can get better. If I trust the TC, in locus Christi, to help me heal. I place myself in God’s hands.