Teaching in a Pandemic (I CanNOT Survive This Twice)

Being a teacher this year has been one of the hardest experiences I have ever had to push myself through. I have written a bit on here about my journey being a 7th grade English teacher this year, amidst virtual learning, then hybrid learning, and now still hybrid but really like 80% face-to-face and 20% virtual.

Every part of this year has been so difficult. Let’s break it down.

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To My Therapist -a poem-

So my therapist caught me off guard yesterday. She’s moving up in the world and is transitioning to a new job. Next week is our last session together. I have a lot of feelings about it.

I came to you a broken mess –
a puzzle whose pieces
fell to the floor,
but I couldn’t find the way
to pick them up myself.

I cried out for help,
and you answered the call,
ready to take on everything I threw at you.

While I’m not perfectly put together just yet,
I see where the pieces will go,
and even though I’m sad our time is done,
I’m glad you practice what you preach:
you keep yourself number one.

I know it’s your job,
but I owe a lot to you.
I truly thought this year was
impossible to get through –
but look at me now,
stick kicking,
still fighting,
so close to finally feeling renewed.

Thank you for the last eight months.
I’ve learned so much about myself.
I know now there are better days ahead,
not just for me, but for you as well.

The Worst Thing About Masks -a poem-

The worst thing about masks
when you’re astute, aware,
intuitive to emotions
others are experiencing –

your eyes.

Eyes are a window to the soul, they say.
You give yourself away when your
Eyes don’t tell the same story as your words.
Squint, wink, blink, raise eyebrows.

So when I tell you how I’ve been feeling lately,
you hide your worry from your voice,
under your mask,
but I see it in your eyes.
I know you want to ask,
I know you want to cry,
you care, you’re concerned –
how could I ever think I wanted to die?
You stay strong,
but I feel your emotion inside
all because of your soft, sad eyes.

The mask makes them pop,
I can’t help but notice.
I feel worse knowing you’re worried;
you have enough on your plate
and now – oh wait – here’s one more thing.

Your eyes gave away
what you tried to hide.
The worst thing about masks
is your eyes are magnified.
I can see right through them,
you’re terrified –
I’m sorry I’ve become a burden.

You Are Not A Burden

I have to repeat these words to myself on a daily basis recently.

I’ve been posting a lot of poems lately. Not every single one I’ve written, but a good chunk of them. It’s annoying because I want to save them and try and publish a poetry chapbook of my own, but I think there’s power in sharing an emotional struggle to ensure that no one ever truly feels alone in the battle with their own mental health. I feel that when we try harder to hide it from everyone, it’s when we feel the most alone and that we are a burden to those who love us.

I’ve uttered those words to my therapist a few times. “I feel like I’m becoming a burden.” It’s the anxiety/depression talking, I know. She’ll ask in response, “Who told you that you’ve become a burden?” and I have to admit that nobody has said it, that’s just how it feels. It’s crazy what a sick brain can convince you of.

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Check -a poem-

On the outside
she looks like she’s barely trying.

On the inside
she feels like she’s slowly dying.

When would someone see
the signs of a broken girl
who’s running out of time?

Her mind – a hive
of soul-killing ideas
that she’s
unworthy,
unlovable,
unwanted,
undeniably unnecessary to anyone.

Check on your friends
who smile through pain.
Check on your friends
who work hard to maintain
some semblance that everything’s always okay
come rain, come sun, come cloudy day –

for the face they wear is but a mask
glue-filled cracks
waiting for someone to finally ask
“be honest, please, are you okay?”
so they can admit
“it’s all a display;
i’m so damn tired of being awake,
desperately looking to finally escape.”

Check on your friends before it’s too late.

Outlet -a poem-

The car-
a space to scream:
freedom to express emotions
weighing me down every damn day.

Therapy-
a paid person to talk to:
a judgement free safe space,
faced with a fresh perspective.

Social media-
A chance to forget:
forced you to find something positive;
we share a glimpse to create a narrative.

Journal-
a place to write:
journals don’t judge, paper doesn’t poke
until you break, desperate for happiness.

Words.
We all need a place
where we can use our words
to freely feel our feelings.
In this society where we’re expected
to fake it til we make it,
what happens when you can’t?

Max capacity,
living unhappily
until we deal with it drastically:

a temporary problem
solved with a permanent solution.

In My Sleep

I woke up this morning mad
because a God who answers prayers
didn’t answer mine.

I woke up this morning mad
because God gave me more breaths
than I wanted.

I woke up this morning mad
because God said not yet.

I’m not asking desperately to die,
and I’m not going to actually try
but everyday I ask God why
I can’t seem to feel him nearby.
I don’t know how much more I can cry.
I’m tired of looking up to the sky
waiting for a reply,
waiting for him to notify

me that it’s going to be okay someday
and these troubled times are just a pathway
to greatness that lies beyond what I can see,
but right now I just want to be free –
just not in a way that’s up to me.

I’m Sorry -a poem-

I’m sorry
for venting
when you wanted quiet.
I’m sorry
for crying
instead of just being silent.
I’m sorry
for thinking
I had your shoulder to lean on.
I’m sorry
for relying
on the vows we agreed on.
I’m sorry
for asking
you to feel some emotion.
I’m sorry
for hoping
you’d have a solution.

I’ll just go back to keeping to myself
now that I know you don’t want to help.