A Brave Face and A Weary Soul

I have started and deleted and started and deleted this entry about ten times now. I’m trying to be witty and turn a clever phrase, but to be honest, my brain is a bit short-circuited. I envisioned sitting down to write about my first day of instructional coaching via digital distance, which went quite well because I have some of the best teachers on my team, but my mind and fingers keep taking me somewhere else.

I consider myself an extroverted introvert. I receive immense pleasure from “me” time, whether it be curled up with a book in the bath, curled up with the remote on the couch, or curled up underneath a fluffy blanket taking a nap. I am a queen of “me” time. However, I don’t like to feel lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I like to be alone, but there is a difference in those two words — alone and lonely. Being alone doesn’t make one lonely just as being lonely doesn’t mean one is alone. I need people. Hell, we all need people. “No man is an island” and all that. Even with my husband and sister-in-law at home with me, I feel lonely — loneliness that exhausts the soul.

It may or may not be a surprise, but I put on a brave face a lot of the time because no one wants to hear when they ask “how’s it going?” that you are a terrible fucking mess on the inside. How do I know this? People usually ask this question when they have their bag on their shoulder or they’re cruising by your room (or cubicle or what-have-you) or when you’re passing each other on the way to somewhere else. Before someone can point out that I’m “people” and call me a hypocrite, I am guilty of this, sometimes, too.

Right now, I am putting on that brave face but it’s starting to crack. In the 5 years I have been with my husband, I have never seen him get so much as misty-eyed — not once — not even when we got married and that was pretty damn magically emotional. Today and yesterday and somedays before yesterday when we sat down and made plans in the event one of us contracted COVID-19 and succumbed to the infection he has been more than misty-eyed, and I have been there to tell him we will figure it out no matter what comes. Soon, I’ll have to put that brave face on for my students because they will need to see it. They’ll need to reclaim some steadfast normalcy in a world that’s swinging from uncertainty to uncertainty. They’ll need someone to tell them we’ll figure it out no matter what comes.

Last night, my husband and I went for a walk, and we hypothesized about the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and how long recovery will last. It was a macabre subject, but talking through things helps us deal, helps us take back our lives while we’re isolating and social distancing. Ultimately, we couldn’t come to an agreement on how long it will take the economy, educational institutions, and supply chains to stabilize, but we quickly agreed that the effects on social-emotional and mental health will be far-reaching and long-lasting.

And so, I am weary. But I write because it’s one of the ways I reclaim my sense of balance and push back the veil. It’s how I slow down the violent vacillations of the world and reinforce that brave face.

Featured image by Photo by Elisabetta Foco on Unsplash