Compulsion

I am struggling. I love school, I’m so happy in my relationship and my friendships. I am working hard. Nothing is perfect but this is where I want to be. Yet somehow my trichotillomania has broken new records of least amount of eyelashes and eyebrows I’ve had in my entire life. Is it the stress of graduate school and these high expectations for myself? Is it the lack of control in a world that seems to be falling apart? Is it being too busy? Is it not earning enough money? Is it that this is the best I’ve ever felt and my compulsion decided to kick into overdrive?

So many causes but no clear solution. Many people think stopping is as simple as that. But it’s not, it’s like telling an alcoholic to stop drinking or an anorexic to eat a burger. It’s not realistic or practical. This is a disorder, there’s something within me that won’t let me escape in a healthy way. I go to my eyelashes or my eyebrows and soothe myself that way. I do it knowingly, other times completely involuntarily.

What doesn’t change is the guilt and the fact I will do it again and again. I feel this sense of shame and I was hiding it from my boyfriend. The secret burned too heavily, I’ve shared so much with him. I had to explain why as content as I am, I’m not exactly pleased with myself just yet.

I’ve been down this road so many times, this road to recovery and then back to relapse. I want to know what it’s like not to crave the pain of trich to replace whatever I’m carrying.

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Origins

I always felt a strong kinship to my Latina side but I have to say I barely know my own origins. I talked about it before in a previous post but this struggle still bubbles up. Sometimes it gives me this immense sadness and other times I feel incredible anger. Regardless of which strong emotion comes up, I feel powerless because I look at my past self. The child I was and how I didn’t know what a torta was because I only associated tortas as Mexican sandwiches but when we were in Guatemala for the first time, they brought out this pastry. My younger brother Willie was the one who was most shocked and I barely remember it but it feels like these memories my brothers have are unlocking those dormant emotions.

What I do remember was feeling so frightened when we first stepped off the plan. I didn’t want to leave my mother’s side as she cried and hugged these strangers. I had no idea who they were, they ended up being family. There was no proper introduction, it was as if we were expected to know who they were. We were supposed to behave perfectly in front of people we had never met. It was expected that we knew everything about Guatemalans and their lives, yet we hadn’t a clue.

I still don’t and yes, now I am adult and a lot of it is within my power but it’s hard not to revert to that instinct I had as a kid. My instinct to stay in my comfort zone. As a kid that was clinging to my emotionally abusive mother. Now as an adult it is to learn and ask about other people’s cultures. I am intrigued by them but when it comes to my own origins, I have this burning shame inside that sits at the surface. It’s like I’ll burst into tears at the idea of even asking about any of it because I feel like such an imposter.

I know next to nothing. I get teased for not knowing the entire Spanish vocabulary. I am distant with my parents due to their toxicity. If I ask my family in Guatemala, they will feed it back to my parents and I really want to leave them out of it. I have this shit holding me back. I fight that urge to give up so soon but I am overwhelmed. I don’t even know where to start in order to unpack where I came from.

Losing Battle

Yesterday I did not something I rarely do at work. I disagreed. I disagreed with another teacher and she refused to take no for an answer. She kept repeating herself in authoritative ways but I did not see her point of view. 

My students are performing their play today. They have rehearsed their socks off during school time hours. Sometimes that means they miss out on morning recess/playtime. They are 5/6 years old. There is a schedule for when each grade or year group can go out to play. Occasionally my co teacher and I have taken children up to play when it was not their “scheduled time” with no discord or concern of safety because either my coteacher or I are present to supervise in addition to the 3-4 adults already on the roof. 

Yesterday I brought my students up for 15 minutes. The kids on the roof at that time  as the 12 year olds. Other classes left and my children stayed with 1-2 other classes that were older. One teacher approached me saying it was unsafe for the older children to be up there with the “little ones” despite my presence and all of our supervision. She not so kindly asked me to move them to a very small part of the playground. I acquiesced to her request in part but two groups of my students were interested in scooters and playing soccer with the older children. I thought I will keep the ones running around over here to appease teacher #1 and let the others play in the other sections.

1. Soccer is a contact sport but 12 year olds are mature enough to know when they are being too rough 

2. These 12 year olds are too big for these particular scooters anyway so no one was using them except my students.

Well another teacher came up and demanded I put all 16 of my kids in this small space to play due to safety. I asked what safety issues? I am not concerned. In my mind there are maybe 30 kids up there and 4 adults… What safety issues? Teacher #2 said our students are too big this is their “allocated” time etc. no empathy no room for open mindedness or collaborative/cooperative efforts. I said we would use the space for 10-15 minutes max and leave. No harm or foul. She refused and again demanded (not asked)?me to move the kids. I stood my ground because this did not make sense.

I saw my class collaborating with the older students already and causing no problems whatsoever. I declined to obey her orders per se because I am an adult not a child. A third teacher came up and said well such and such kid is really rambunctious. I again stood my ground while this teacher announced she would take no responsibility should an incident occur. I said I would take FULL responsibility. By the way nothing happened we were gone in 10 minutes while I received eye rolls and death glares from teacher 1 and 2.

I went downstairs to my coteacher explained the situation and she backed me up. She saw their “safety” concerns unfounded and said she would deal with them if they contacted her. Well the teachers contacted the upper years “leader” not my teacher and I was forced to attend a meeting where I was told that my behavior was inappropriate and unprofessional about 4-5 times. Trigger words I am sure. I maintained my cool and tried not to interrupt I only interrupted once which was important for me! 

I explained my side but I was ganged up on by the leader and this teacher. I said I am allowed to disagree and that this safety issue made no sense. These kids ought to be wise enough and also exposed to other years. Also there should be flexibility. I was told I can never say no and I thought that was disturbing. She said she found no validity in my point and NO ONE would back me up. She tried to shame me and say it was so appalling to hear that this was coming from me “of all people”. That this teacher has been here 6 years (ignore the fact I have been here 3 without this kind of issue in this school) and that this was not an authority issue.
Yes it was because if it was not then she would chat my teacher instead of going to tattle and force me into a meeting where my side was not even considered. It was all from these two teachers point of view.
Regardless I did not apologize. I bit some humble pie and merely ended the conversation with “now I understand and thank you”. I left. I will not say sorry when I do not feel it and I was definitely not ok. I was furious and upset! Totally belittled and told my opinion is invalid. Later I was also disrespected by the headmistress.
I am reading another Brené Brown book and in it she said a professor told her “you cannot use shame to change someone’s behavior”. Well that is this school’s mentality. Staying here is a losing battle. If I cannot be myself and disagree with I another teacher in an understanding and emphathetic manner what am I doing here? I have a fantastic co teacher but that is not enough. I am tying myself to a sinking ship. These so-called leaders demand respect and obedience when none is deserved or earned. 
I must make this school year my last. By any means necessary.