I lost control tonight.

I have depression. It is something I am very open about with my family and friends because when I’m going through a rough time and I tell people I’m going through a rough time because of my depression, I am less likely to get unsolicited advice that makes things worse. Because my people understand that I have a legitimate mental illness and I’m not just being a pessimist, they are very supportive.

Tonight was hard.

I’ve been feeling my depression slowly creeping in the last few days. I tried to ignore it like you try to ignore the sounds your old car makes. The noises are there, but you turn the radio up louder and hope for the best.

Today started with me waking up to a migraine. Usually if I take one pill, I can go about my life within 20 minutes. They are very effective and I’m so grateful that modern medicine has made my migraines manageable. I couldn’t find my new box, but I did find one of the emergency ones that I keep hidden in my wallet. Not a problem, I’d find the box when I got home.

I got to school and everyone just seemed to be in a bad mood. The teacher that is across the hall from me looked at me like I was a pile of dog shit on her new living room rug when I said, “Good morning” to her. I tried to brush it off – I know too well that everyone is fighting their demons, and I had no idea what she might be going through. Still, it stung a little.

My students were just plain awful. They didn’t listen to me. The school graciously provided me with a half-day sub so I could finish a project that was due to the county on Monday – a project I had been signed up for by my previous district and my name was conveniently not removed from the list. I was thankful for the half day, but I knew my students would be awful. I was stressed. But I let it go – the teacher in my classroom was qualified to teach, and 3.5 hours of lost education never hurt anyone. Everything was fine.

While I was working on my project, my migraine came back and hit me full force. It was one of my ocular migraines – I couldn’t see out of my right eye at all. It felt like someone was stabbing my brain with a butter knife. I powered through it and got the project finished, perfected, and ready to go for Monday.

I came back to a terrible note from my sub. As anticipated, my kids were awful. Whatever, go home. Tomorrow is a new day.

I went to the boy’s house that I work with for homebound instruction. He was having a bad day and refused to work for me. Another hour that I wouldn’t get paid for. My college bill is due at the end of the month.

The migraine was still cutting off the vision in my right eye and I had thrown up 3 times from the pain in my skull.

I stumbled into the bathroom and realized I couldn’t find my migraine pills that I had been looking for that morning.

I went into the living room. I sat on the floor with tears streaming down my face as I dumped my purse on the ground, and searched frantically like a starved squirrel trying to find the nut it had buried in the fall. No pills. I ran back to the bathroom, almost hitting the wall because of the lack of vision in one of my eyes. I tore the bathroom cabinets apart and I couldn’t find them.

That was it. That was the last straw.

I slumped down onto the toilet lid. My pupils were so narrow and sore from the crying and the migraines and the rage that I couldn’t see more than a pinpoint from my left eye. I felt my heart beating so fast that I thought it was going to break through my sternum and go crashing into the sink in front of me. My body was sweating, I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. I was sobbing so loud – that sobbing that just tears your throat and chest to shreds.

And then, all at once, I felt nothing.

I felt absolutely no desire to be alive. No desire for my heart to continue beating, no desire to continue breathing. I just felt there.

I don’t remember much after this. I know my husband walked me to our bedroom and gave me water. He called and texted my mom and dad. I don’t remember asking for pizza, but I know that I ate. I remember just existing in that moment. That moment that the lights went off, the moment the desire to keep going faded from my body.

I’m doing better now. My mom came over and just talked until I came out of that state. I know I shouldn’t scare them like that. It really sucks knowing that I left this disease get the best of me. It sucks knowing that for awhile, I had given up. I didn’t care what had happened to me. Even in my worst state before, I didn’t have the desire to just stop.

I’m not really sure why I’m writing this. I just needed to get it out there.

Mom, I’m sorry.

Dear Mom,

As I sit down at the table for a few minutes after scrubbing my house and washing clothes in preparation for our vacation, I think to myself, “I wish my mom was here to help me.” Even though we live super close, I would like nothing more right now than for you to come bursting through my door and wash dishes with me one more time.

Mom, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all of the times that we went on vacation and you cleaned the house top to bottom, watched me and the siblings, packed, and listened to my dad nag. I’m sorry I didn’t help you more. I’m sorry I got upset when you wanted me to clean because “why would we clean a house that we aren’t going to be in for a week?” I get it now. I’m sorry that I fussed at you for making me share a suitcase with my sister. I know now that it was easier on you to pack the car with one less suitcase. I know it was easier for you to have one suitcase in one room and have us packing it together. Mom, I’m sorry I didn’t clean while you packed. I’d give anything to have someone helping me now.

As my husband irritates me when I ask him to help me and he half-asses folding laundry or doing dishes, I think back on the amount of times that dad did the bare minimum to help you and when he did, he did it half-assed and you had to redo it. I’m sorry that I didn’t pick up the slack when dad was slacking off. I’m sorry that I probably made things worse when I whined about having to do stuff when dad was asleep on the couch and dishes were piled up in the sink.

Mom, when you were the ones making the arrangements for the pets, I’m sorry I didn’t help you pack up the bag to board them. I’m sorry I said tearful goodbyes to Toby while you went over the food, treats, toys, bed, and bathroom schedule with the person taking care of him, none of which I contributed to helping you do. As I scribble down notes for you and all of the other people that are taking care of the pets while we were gone, I think about how hard it was for you to leave our pets behind, but it was even harder because you had to take care of all of that stuff yourself. I’m sorry I didn’t help you more.

Mom, while I double and triple check the website of the place we are staying, I think about all of those times that you made itineraries, check amenities and accommodations, boarding passes, schedules, and the works that none of us appreciated. While I scramble to pack bed sheets because my husband didn’t read closely enough to realize our place doesn’t provide bed sheets, I’m sorry I didn’t listen closely when you went down through the list of things we needed to pack. I’m sorry I didn’t help you make the lists.

Mom, I’m sorry I was a spoiled brat and didn’t help you when we were going on vacation and for so many other things in life. I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate what you did. I sure know how you feel now. I just hope that I can spend the next part of my life helping you with what you need and be the right-hand daughter you deserved back then. Mom, I’m sorry.

To the baby boomer who told me to get an education

Dear Baby Boomer I had the misfortune of waiting on,

You looked at me and saw a 20 something year old girl working for a catering business. You saw me running around like a mad woman trying to wait on the 80+ other people at the party you were attending. You snapped your fingers at me to get my attention like I was a dog. You talked to me like I was gum on the bottom of your shoe. You wouldn’t even look me in the eye when you spoke to me, and you made nasty comments about me to the other ladies at the table. You were sarcastic and belittled me when I was just trying to do my job.

The industrial-sized coffee maker at the building broke that morning. It wasn’t even the coffee maker that belonged to the catering business, it was the one that belonged to the owner of the building who insisted that we use hers. It was no part my fault. I explained that to you and the other ladies at your table. I explained that we had smaller coffee pots down 3 flights of stairs that I was running up and down in order to bring coffee to all the tables as soon as the coffee was finished. I explained to you that I was doing the best I could and everyone else was waiting on coffee as well. You told me that wasn’t your problem.

You proceeded to say to me, “Honey, this is exactly why you need to go get yourself an education.”

Your words cut into me like a knife. I saw red.

“Ma’am,” I replied as sweetly as I could. “I have worked for 5 years educating the children of this community. I have possibly educated your grandchildren. I am a highly qualified teacher with 4 areas of certification. I’m going back to get my master’s degree, and this is how I have to pay for it because unlike your generation, college is NOT affordable and teachers are NOT always paid well. Your coffee will be out in just a moment.”

I don’t know what it is with you and your generation thinking you are allowed to treat service workers like trash. I don’t know what you get out of treating us that way. It doesn’t make your service any faster or the quality any better. It slows us down, it makes us feel like crap. We are humans and with the way you treated me today, I know I am more of a person than you are.

Furthermore, I don’t know why you assume that people in this industry are uneducated. Many people my age have a career, and also have a “side hustle” in order to make extra money just to get by. I teach full time, I work for a catering business part time, and I take care of people’s pets when they go on vacation. I do all of this while going to grad school and maintaining a 4.0. In my state, you have to earn 24 post-college credits to keep your certification, so it’s not like I have a choice in getting my degree. My husband is working 2 jobs as well. Our house probably cost triple what your first home did. A 4 year education was about $6,000 in your day. One semester is more than $6,000 today. Sometimes only the man in your house had to work, while my husband and I are both working more than 1 job.

Boomers, stop assuming that millennial are trash. Stop assuming those working in restaurants, as cashiers, as janitors, and in fast food positions are uneducated. Stop assuming we are lazy and unmotivated. You have no idea what we are doing just to get by.

Sincerely,

The educated waitress

You Have To Fill Your Cup Before You Can Fill Others’

Friends, my cup has been about half-full recently. Don’t be sad, this is a step up from last week, when it was totally empty. Not even a drop! I’ve been doing some self-care recently (hang with me, folks) and I realized something very important – I am unable to fill other people’s cups when mine is empty, and so are you.

When I was on empty, I literally felt empty. I was drained from the end of the year business, drained from the paperwork, drained from the child-abuse forms I had filled out for the 13th time for the same family, drained from feeling like I wasn’t contributing enough to our home, drained from cleaning our home, and just drained from being drained. I had nothing more to give.

A friend called me right near the end of all this. Her boyfriend of 3 months had broken up with her. She was devastated, she had loved him and was going to spend the rest of her life with him and his child in their one-bedroom apartment and work to support his drag-racing career so he didn’t have to work. If you can’t tell, I wasn’t captain of his cheering squad. I responded with the polite, “oh’s” and “mhmm’s”, but that just wasn’t enough for her. I tried to give my advice, that she needed to talk to him in person instead of over text. If he did not oblige, she needed to move on with her life and accept that he just didn’t feel the same. She told me I was the worst friend in the world and I wasn’t being supportive.

“You know what?” I replied, feeling the blood boiling through every inch of my body. “You have not asked me how I have been doing a single time in the last 2 months. You know we are struggling financially and that I’m struggling with depression. I just can’t take on your burden right now. I’m sorry”. I hung up the phone. I felt like the worst person alive. For about 5 minutes.

That’s when it hit me. I wasn’t able to handle her problems because I had too many of my own. I wasn’t taking care of myself and I was stressed to the max. I’m a person who likes to help other people, and I realized in order to do that, I needed to help myself first.

Every morning, I do 30 minutes of light yoga to start my day. I drink a coffee and get to work with whatever needs done for the day. But that half-hour a day has made such a difference. By just simply taking that 30 minutes for myself – no husband, no phone, no social media, no interruptions – I am able to get my brain set for the rest of the day.

That 30 minutes of light yoga turned into 30 minutes of light yoga and walking the dog for 2 miles. I use my time to just breathe and enjoy time with my best buddy. No husband, no phone, no social media, no interruptions.

Flash forward 2 months and I feel myself going back to my same old habits. Grad school started again, I’m working another job, and things just keep piling up. Only this time, I feel a little whisper coming from the corner of the room as my eyes fall on my yoga mat. “Come back, girl. You need me.” I crawl half-asleep onto the mat and just take some time to breathe. As my eyes are closed and I’m almost letting go, I feel a furry little paw touch my leg. My cat stares up at me with his big, green eyes. My dog sits not far and just stares at me. I grab her leash and we go.

I guess what I’m trying to do with my life is getting into a consistent routine of taking care of myself. I’m trying to overcome my bad habits of falling back to my old routine of going and going and going until I’m exhausted and collapse. I’m trying to learn that I need to take care of myself first in order to be able to appropriately and consistently take care of everything else in my life. Who knows, I might just get it right someday.

Every Child Needs a Bad Teacher

Yep, you read that right. Every child needs to have a bad teacher at some point in their life. I’m not talking about your teachers who are verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive – I hope no child ever has to come into contact with this person. No one ever deserves to come into contact with a person like that, especially a teacher.

When I was in senior high, I had a science teacher that was a bad teacher. Instead of actually learning the vocabulary words, he would give us student-generated crossword puzzles. These student-generated crossword puzzles often had spelling errors or definition errors, but he continued to use them year after year. These crossword puzzles counted for a good percentage of our grade. Because he was a bad teacher, I learned to teach myself vocabulary skills and because of this, I didn’t really struggle with acquiring vocabulary for college.

This teacher also spent more time flirting with the pretty girls in my class than he did teaching. He would talk to the gamers about whatever video game was new. He would talk to the jocks about football. I didn’t fit into any of these categories, so I was definitely not one of his favorite students. This taught me that not everyone is going to like me, despite my hard work and dedication. This taught me that some people won’t like me no matter what I do. It taught me to judge people based on the qualities they consider are desirable, and then to decide whether I really cared about them liking me or not.

He allowed bullying to happen. My brother is autistic and this man allowed a girl to bully him DURING class. She called him a retard, a sped, and a freak. My brother would get upset and flap his hands. This teacher would scream at my brother to keep control of himself or he would be kicked out. I was involved in advocating for this girl to be disciplined. Because this man was a bad teacher, I learned the importance of standing up for those who cannot. Because of this man, I am a teacher that stops students in the halls for using the R-word and asks them to explain the definition to me. When they cannot explain the precise definition, I educate them calmly and explain the error in their ways.

This terrible teacher allowed students to grade his papers for him. There was a girl in my class who did not like me and did everything she could to secretly pick on me so she could maintain her nice girl image. She would take points for things that weren’t in the rubrics. She would “accidentally” mark things wrong on my tests. When I brought this to his attention, he told me not to complain. Furiously, I went to the administration and had to fight my case using evidence that I collected. Because of this, I learned to advocate for myself. I learned not to go to administration to complain, I learned to go to administration with indisputable evidence to make my case.

When this man finally started grading his own papers (because of me going to admin), he started taking away points for things that weren’t on rubrics and accidentally marking things wrong. Because of this, I learned to double and triple check my work, to go above and beyond in assignments, and to again advocate for myself against an authority figure. It taught me to be a careful worker and to take pride in my own work, regardless of how others feel about it.

When this man sees me as an adult, a teacher myself, he always praises me as such a good student. He tells anyone that will listen how he always liked me, always knew that I would be a good teacher. I always smile and let him know that he helped to mold me into the teacher I am today. I keep it tucked in the back of my mind that I am the teacher I am today because he was a pathetic example of what a teacher should be. He made me strong, he taught me to stand up for myself and others, and he taught me how to fight the right way. Because of this man, I am a good teacher.

Responsible Gun-Owning

There is a lot of debate all over the world right now about guns. Just guns in general. To get my stance out in the open – I am a firm believer in responsible gun-owning. I get my background checks, I buy at reputable places, and my guns are registered. They are locked up at all times except when in use. My ammunition is locked up in a separate location at all times except when in use. My concealed carriers permit is renewed early. I have only guns I feel are necessary – 2 handguns for target shooting and self-defense purposes. I attend safety courses when offered and have repeated the same courses to stay up-to-date. I practice target shooting for recreational activity with my dad because it is a common interest. While I am not a hunter because I have no desire to sit in a tree stand in the cold and rain, I have come from a long line of hunters and other responsible gun owners.

My father has owned all sorts of guns for as long as I can remember and I have always been taught to respect guns, big and small. My dad takes a lot of flack for owning semi-automatic rifles and other larger guns. He has been told numerous times that he does not need a gun that does not cause mass destruction because he is not in the military. He has never hurt anyone with a gun or any other kind of weapon for that matter and has instilled responsible gun-owning in me for the longest time.

While at the shooting range today, there was another man with his 2 daughters. They had a really flashy gun with all of the bells and whistles. He had name-brand equipment and brought a fancy camera to record their time together on range. He loudly made comments about my shooting ability, although I did not see either of his daughters fire a single time. I watched out of the corner of my eye as his daughters took pictures of me and laughed. One commented that I was dressed like a boy but shot like a girl. He also loudly made fun of my dad’s shooting ability, as he saw my dad calmly and patiently helping me to improve my shot. He screamed at his daughters for making too much noise while he was trying to shoot. He had the equipment of a professional, but acted like a diva. He was loudly proclaiming, “Wow, did you see that shot?!” after each shot he made, whether it hit the target or not.

As my dad and I were packing up to go home, he said, “Girls, get off those f****** phones and come look at how a real man shoots. He and his daughters walked downrange – leaving his gun loaded, with the safety off, on the stand, with my dad and I still back there. I have never been more appalled at a gun owner in my life.

  1. He did not know my dad or me. There was no saying that we weren’t two nut jobs. We could have very easily grabbed that gun and taken off with it or murdered him and his daughters. He had no other weapon on him, there was nothing he could have done to stop it.
  2. You never walk downrange unless you are certain that no one is firing. Even though my dad and I were in the process of packing up, we still had guns out and were not asked to hold fire so he could show his daughters his shot.
  3. You never walk away from a gun to begin with. I don’t care if the safety is on or not. I don’t care if your gun is loaded or not. You never walk away from your gun.

This man clearly proved the need for more gun laws and gun education in this country. This man, who had all of the equipment of a professional, had the brains of a jellyfish – none. This man was a clear indication that you can have all of the equipment, but without proper education, you are a danger to yourself and society.

Gun safety classes should be mandatory for owning any type of gun. You should not have a gun placed in your hands until you can pass a safety course. You should be able to prove that you are proficient in gun safety, ability to shoot, and cleaning and caring for your weapon on a yearly basis. Shooting skills deteriorate as time goes on without practice – I was a prime example of that. I have not shot in 6 months and I really sucked today. Practice should be a requirement. If you own a gun, all of your family members above age 10 should also have to go through the classes and pass a gun safety test. Maybe then idiots like this man would have at least had daughters with the common sense not to leave a loaded gun downrange near two strangers. Maybe if more people respected guns, we would not have the issues in this country that we do today. Maybe if people had accountability when it comes to owning guns, there would be less psychos with guns in their hands and more citizens who are informed and practiced. All of this would be a pain in the butt to accomplish, but our safety is worth it.

Gender Roles in a Marriage

“Why isn’t your husband mowing that grass?”

If I had dollar for every time something like this has been said to me when I am doing yard work, carrying a tool kit, or doing any other kind of physical labor, I could probably pay the mortgage for next month. It’s always said by a nosy older neighbor or someone my age trying to make a joke. But I usually follow up with something like, “Oh, he’s working his second job so I can continue to go to grad school.” This usually shuts them up. I used to think that it was because there really isn’t a response to that, or because they feel bad that my husband is working two jobs, but I think I came to the root of the reason tonight.

It’s because my husband is expected to provide to his family. It’s because I’m not expected to do physical labor.

Truth be told, I enjoy mowing the grass. I like working alongside my uncle as he teaches me the proper way to use a level to hang our towel rack. In the fall, I’ll look forward to splitting wood with my parents to keep our house warm in the upcoming winter. My husband, on the other hand, does not enjoy doing these things. So why is it that no one says a word to him when he is the one mowing the grass?

It’s because he is expected to do these things, even if he doesn’t enjoy them. 

Gender roles in a marriage are so dangerous. At the start of our marriage, my husband did next to no housework besides taking out the trash. I did all of the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, and taking care of the pets. It drove me crazy and it about destroyed our marriage. You see, my husband grew up in a home where his mom did the “woman things” like cooking and cleaning and his dad did the yard work, fixed things that needed fixing, and was at the table at 6:00 sharp expecting dinner. I grew up in a home where my dad worked really crappy shifts and my mom worked hourly, so she did mostly everything. Our upbringing was a dangerous combination of him expecting women to do the household chores and me growing up seeing a woman do it all.

After many fights and a lot of tears, things have worked themselves out. We realized each of us has strengths and gain different enjoyment when it comes to chores. I love laundry and mowing, so I do the laundry and mowing. He is amazing when it comes to paying bills and cooking, so he takes on those chores. When we see something that needs done, we just do it. We don’t wait for the other person to do it because that job fits their prescribed gender role. We just do it because it makes life easier for the other person.

As I watch my husband shaking his butt to his tunes while he cooks tonight, I think about how far we have come. I think of the man that used to come home from work and prop his feet up while I rushed around the kitchen making dinner and I’m so glad that man didn’t stick around. I think of how he comes home from work and kisses me for mowing the grass and I know he’s glad he didn’t have to do it. I see him handling raw meat in the kitchen and my stomach turns and I think of how fortunate I am to not be cooking. Our pets don’t just look at me anymore when they are hungry. I don’t feel my blood boiling anymore because he doesn’t come home and flop on the couch right after work. Life is good. Communication was the key. Communicate what you like and don’t like with your partner. Draw up a list if you have to. Just don’t conform because that’s what you’re used to seeing your parents doing. It is 2019, let’s start acting like it.