On Feeling

Sometimes, when I’m very tired, I feel like I’m going to cry at the drop of a hat. Every emotion I have manifests in tears, and I can’t really control my reactions to anything without risking becoming an absolute blubbering mess in front of anyone and everyone.

This week has been one of those weeks.

I’ve always thrown myself into my work, and this year is no different. I’m coaching swimming again, I’ve been working with the football team on a photography project, I designed a website for a leadership conference we co-hosted, and I’ve been putting in 60+ hour weeks since the middle of August.

This isn’t a complaint about work, not at all. It’s absolutely no secret that I love what I do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m just feeling a little unseen right now.

I’ve been working with one of the football players at school, helping him with English even though I don’t teach him anymore. He hadn’t read a book outside of class in years, but in the last month he’s read 2 books (Stranger in the Woods and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), and wants to pick up another book. When he comes to talk to me about what he’s been reading, it feels like I’m making an actual difference. To see this kid gain confidence in his abilities as a reader (and a writer) has been one of the most uplifting experiences of my career. When he comes into my classroom to talk with me, I’m so proud that I can feel my heart threatening to burst out of my chest. The other day, he was so proud of himself for being nearly done the second book (in less than a week) that when he left I almost cried.

I’m pretty sure this is the most important work I’ve done in my career, and yet when I talk to some people about it they don’t understand why it matters so much to me. It’s a hard feeling to describe because I know that what I’m doing matters, and I know that he’s not going to forget this experience.

But despite all the great things that happened this week, yesterday was a hard day and it ended with a not-great football game. It was the end of a long day and a long week. I had a couple important conversations after the game that helped a bit, but coming home to an empty house with no real way to let it all out was a real challenge for me yesterday.

I had wanted to cry many times throughout the week, but I managed to contain my emotions until I was alone.

And when I was finally alone, I cried.

I cried because I was mad about my swimmer who dislocated his shoulder during the football game.

I cried because my heart hurts for my kids when they’re hurting.

I cried because I put my whole being into my work and sometimes it feels unnoticed and unappreciated.

I cried because I just needed to get it all out and I didn’t know how else to do it.

I cried, and I’m glad I didn’t hold it in.