I honestly thought that the toughest experience of teaching was over until I experienced something that made me put a pause in my life. I’ve even begun to rethink about who my true friends are and how every time I go through something, you truly realise who care about you. The list modifies slightly with every crisis because I’m always forming new relationships especially when you have moved to a different place and to a different workplace.
Typing this now, I honestly can’t even reflect on what happened this week as what happened yesterday is still prominent in my memories. The day honestly started off quite well and I thought it would’ve ended on a high. But perhaps it’s true. Whenever something goes well, something negative is bound to follow.
I even talked to a counsellor today (whom I’ll call M) because yesterday’s event was traumatic for me. And with speaking to him, I’ve realised that I didn’t fully grieve over my grandmother’s death last year. I didn’t realise that I was still feeling guilty.
M asked me whether I felt guilty because I did something immoral or something that went against my values. It was not that. I felt guilty because I was following the stay-at-home orders for being a close contact. I think a part of me wanted to break the law so that my grandmother didn’t have to suffer for so long because I knew she was only holding on to her dear life for the last glimpse of me before she let go. It was hard. But I was so glad I got to see her.
If I did break the law, she probably would’ve been disappointed. Hearing that, M told me to challenge my guilt. It won’t go away immediately. But I have to know that I did the best I could in that situation I was placed under. M was right. And I think once I break down this guilt, I may be able to grieve fully.
I honestly couldn’t believe how it was still affecting me a year later as I teared up again. But speaking with M made me understand this point that it is ok to cry. Being a confident and strong person doesn’t mean that you have to hide your vulnerability.
And I knew that. In fact, I wasn’t afraid to cry and let out my feelings in front of my colleagues yesterday because I knew I was in a safe space. I did do a good job yesterday. I was professional and got all the documentation done so that the incident could pass over quickly. But that doesn’t mean that I’m thoroughly ok.
I still need to face the triggers of the violence that occurred between the students. Why the heck did it have to happen in front of me? I’m not a person who condones violence nor have any experience of seeing such violent actions in person. (Movies don’t count.)
Speaking with M, he told me I have acute trauma in which the positive thing is that it will go away in a few days. I honestly felt like a wuss at first because I was not directly involved in the situation in any way. But I think it’s the pent up emotions that I have inside of me that has weakened my resolve.
I’m honestly glad that my workplace has these systems in place where we can talk to a professional counsellor who can guide us and help us to a better place.
I know these events would make me stronger as a person, but it sucks that anyone has to go through with this. I received emails and messages from my colleagues and students hoping I’m alright. Even one of the students involved apologised which was sweet and hoped it didn’t traumatise me or anyone else. These kids do have heart but emotions sometimes get to the better of us.
In saying that, I have this friend who has been constantly texting me about our dinner reservation because she has to provide at least 24 hours notice for cancellation or else she’ll be charged. I did give her 4 days advance notice saying I might have to cancel if its heavy rain because it’s too much hassle to travel. But then she sends texts every single day asking if she should cancel then even though I said we will “double check the weather the night before“. Isn’t this a clear message that we will check the weather the night before and cancel then if we have to?
Clearly not because then she says let’s check in the morning (2 days in advance) and decide. I didn’t bother responding.
Then she sends a text the next day how she got an email to confirm the booking. I responded saying I’ll check the weather around 5pm which gives us an hour before the cancellation period.
Then she sends a screen shot with the text confirmation asking me if we’re cancelling or not. Mind you, it’s still not even 5pm yet as it was still in the morning! The morning! PLUS! This is the day when that this traumatic incident occurred.
I was definitely not in the right head space and with those constant texts, it’s just becoming an issue that is just wasting my time. So I cancelled and said “I’m not in the right headspace”.
Thinking back, it’s unfortunate all these events occurred and I didn’t even have time to cope with it all fully. And that’s why I place such a huge importance on mental health.
How can life continue as normal? How can the world even function if our mental health is not cared for?
Truly thankful and lucky I have support. I wonder how different of a person I would be if I didn’t.
But like I’ve been teaching my students, characters become stronger and a better version of themselves due to overcoming these adversities ✌️