Posted in Health & Wellbeing, School Life

The Toll

Just need to chronicle this.

From the time we went into quarantine on March 13, 2020, my stress/cortisol or whatever had already been through the energy of ‘keeping my stuff together.’ That takes a lot of energy. I joke about “saving it for my novel,” but when memory trips back to certain events of the last two years at the school where I stayed, loved, and struggled for twelve years took on an admin team that, well, did not want me there and actively worked to ensure my departure, on top of having a disgusting, lying excuse for a human lead our nation into continued depravity, loss of democracy, and 600K deaths, my body just quit. My mind kept going, using all the energy, fuel, and functions to keep my brain going.

When I say “quit” I mean I just couldn’t move. I would try to go on walks with my husband in our neighborhood last summer and see people not wearing masks, and it hit soft spots of anxiety. Though I was wearing a mask, the fear took over. I got into social media arguments with people I thought loved me and my family, pushing back on mask-wearing, and the anagnorisis of witnessing that much white supremacist, cult-like behavior in my own community continues to be alarming.

And the actual daily sirens.

And the colleagues who dealt with their own tragedies and stress in ways that hit at dangerous intersections with my own.

And the sitting for hours.

Even though I had alarms to remind me to take breaks.

Even though I had alarms to remind me to stretch, playlists of songs for dancing, and a steady stream of online purchases to fill a void.

I didn’t overeat, thank goodness, but probably kept the wine delivery too stocked, if I’m honest. But I didn’t move. I hit snooze on my physical health. But the hours and days of sitting in front of a computer screen, waiting for students to show up in Google meet, the hours and days of sitting sitting sitting sitting staring at a cold screen, blurring my vision, all I had was my mind and creativity to do anything to keep students hanging on.

And now I’m paying for it.

Yes, I know I’ll get better. Last weekend I pulled weeds for hours, mowed the front yard, and just ordered a new seat for the stationary bike, because damn, the one it came with…not exactly motivating. We don’t have the funds for a fancy Pelaton, but maybe someday I’ll treat myself. I am vaccinated now and will start to walk again. I play with the dog. My canine extension of my own life is feeling it, too.

I drink gallons of water. I track my steps. I eat right. And I’m trying. But all of that in the world doesn’t matter if my mind just…can’t…make…my body move. I am mourning my body. These mentaphysical* histories and milestones: the body of my first decade — lithe and cricket-jump fast. The body of my teens and twenties, the ‘take for granted’ body. And the post-baby body. The forty, and now the fifty-ish-living-through-a-pandemic body. It’s rebelled. It’s worn out. And I’m too young for this. I must remind myself this is NOT MY FAULT. I didn’t break this body, but I’m the only one who can fix it.

*this should be a word