enemy number one

4.5.11

Self doubt is my enemy Number One. I know that but just because I do doesn't make it any easier to deal with inner critics and voices that tell me I'm not good enough for someone or something. And the ironic thing is, the more you fight with it, the more insane you feel.

So when the kind folks at Trembling Trees became my inner voices I felt like I was fighting with my sanity. It was a dream in which everyone was an extension of my fears and shortcomings. Therapy that I had no idea that I was going into, a sanitarium of lazured walls and an upside down fairy tale.

Because let's face it, we all want to be liked and I was and am no different. The only reason why I excude confidence is because I chose to. It's easy to feel average and when you look around your thoughts are confirmed. What's not easy is to rise above the drama, the illusions, the mirrors and self-levitate your ass into a calmer existence.

I feel like I survived the stone ages. The stones they threw at me are all too familiar:

You're not good enough.
You don't belong.
What's wrong with you?
You don't have children.
You're too young.
You can't teach.
One day you'll be good.

I became a battered woman. Like so many who let what others say send her down. But bruises heal and I knew that I would have to stand up straighter and utter a few swear words along the way. Humans take a kind of nibbling pleasure at someone else's suffering. We're relating in a twister sister kind of way. Why else would hazing be considered part of any initiation process?

Does this make us adults? I don't know. For me it helped. Not trusting people as naively as I did may seem sad because we want to trust in the goodness of others but being selective is trusting too. Trusting in yourself and your intuition.

Compassion I've learned can grow in any soil. I think making mud pies is wonderful game and digging to China is simply another pastime to help us investigate and makeover childhood dreams. For a time, I let the outside voices dictate my dream to teach, convincing myself that I didn't even want to do it. But then I had another go at it.

I mean I had false starts but now that I've finished a lap or two I know I can do it. Could I be a Waldorf teacher again? Nah. I could but I don't feel like I belong there. It wasn't my clan. Now I could do a better job of pretending to fit in but I'd rather not pretend. If there is such a clan, it's the living freedom clan. Away from politics, parents, and pedantics.

Right now I'm teaching English in Thailand. I blog about it at the Tell Thai Heart. I feel fully recovered. Sounds odd to say, like I was an addict of some sort of self pity drug but it took me time to process.

***
We need time to process. This is not to be confused with time to procrastinate. But stalling can be a form of thinking, don't you think?

Perhaps when life hands a doggy bag full of poo we need a moment to decide what to do with it. Perhaps the warmth of the contents of said bag distract us from the task at hand. (pun intended) In other words, we are too close to the situation.

I've heard that the human brain has the same 60,000 thoughts every day. Can you imagine rewinding and playing the same tape over and over again? Of course you can, apparently you're doing it now. It's like your favorite song or mixed cassette tape.

When I was processing the posturing, the pedantics and the Trembling Trees playbook, I was essentially transitioning so I could reset my system clock. This isn't the same as erasing my hard drive because you can't, not completely. I mean there is a small section that holds the memory of your former operating system.

***
I never thought I'd say this but I look back and read what I've wrote and think I was part of some strange cult. Now this might be insulting to the Waldorf community and people I know who are assoicated with it but how else can you describe it?

Waldorf is like an organized religion. And this is not a bad thing but let's be honest about it. School is an organized religion. Atlhough the cynic in me wants to put “organized” in extreme air quotes.

We're indoctrinating children into a system of beliefs and the reason why education is such a political campaign and hotly contested is because it is like a religion. I used to say I felt like a woman accused of being a witch and my firing was the crackling burning at the 'ol stake.

I also used the word excommunicated. I wasn't trying to be dramatic either. Oh, no. I had enough drama. I enjoyed a good flogging of drama. Instead I was trying to put into words this sensation, this puzzle that I was constantly living with that no one seemed to care to understand.

I'm not entirely sure why it is so important to be understood. Must be this animal communication thing. This need to reach out and reach in and pull a rabbit out of your hat and have folks applaud or at the very least acknowledge what you've done.

Dave Chapelle said it best, to be called crazy is dismissive. It's such an backhanded blow to be dismissed. You're not given the decency of individual, free, independent thought. Rather it's a shaking of heads and clicks of tongues.

I was embarassed when I thought it did any good, when I thought this is how I'm supposed to feel about being fired. Now I'm embarrassed that I thought it was embarrasing.

***
Recently I was talking to a friend about her own “is it me or is it the school?”/ “what the hell happened?” teaching experience. As I listened to her talk and watched her drive through Chiang Mai traffic, I wondered how many more dedicated teachers find themselves in very similar situations.

Because I've stopped being surprised when I hear that someone has a story that sounds like mine. At first I thought what I had to say might be a bit of an anomaly and I would be able to relate to people who had been fired in the most general sense of the word.

But then former Waldorf teachers, parents, and children stepped out of the woods, and then I thought maybe there is more to this story than I originally thought. It seems teachers everywhere and anywhere are caught in the world wide web of education's mis-administrations.

As I type it, it sounds as cold as print, and can be easily sallied off like the closing of a newspaper. Then again these are the people who are educating our children and pretending to know what's best for them. So I don't know how to think.

My friend is a good teacher and so is her husband (and he's got his own story). He's in another country teaching and she's not teaching, opting for more education like Mrs. Rabbit did. Her experience happened about a year ago, maybe less, so the hurts are more easily accessible.

You don't need to know the details of her story because you hear it in her voice. I've heard it in many voices. The bewildered tone, the scarred speech, the timbre of trust washed away. And I think, my friend, I understand. Unfortunately that is the best I can do.

She's not reopening a wound so much as reminding me that I had a wound. Like when someone points to an old scratch and asks, “How'd that happen?” My friend mentions rather embarrassingly how her first reaction upon seeing a former co-worker is to hide. I told her, well, I did too, on several occasions.

I realized how much we were not hiding from these people but from the reminder of our pasts, the circumstances and the situations that we wished we never lived through. We were playing victim from our own decisions and decisions that were made before us.

***
There is an antipathy that I feel towards the whole experience. I can't say that I feel bitterness or regret. My time with the children, my ability to do things that I never thought I could do like sing and play music and paint or draw give me such a sense of accomplishment.

There is also a kind of accomplishment that comes from living life at both ends. Not in a Hey you should try this way but in a Hey I lived through some shit kind of way. I was never supposed to be a failure, you see. I was never supposed to be the one who couldn't hang my hat next to others. I was raised a certain way, to be good, follow the rules and be kind and generous.

But I discovered folks were drinking a different kind of Pepsi and I've learned that what I prefer tastes good to me too.

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