The halls were quiet this morning.
Schools aren’t built to be quiet. While a lot of work can get done when the halls are quiet, it’s not the work that drives the hearts of educators.
It is the little ones that bring life to the school that we are passionate about. The quiet days make us long for the gusto of our students.
I would be lying if I told you that when I walked into the halls of our school this morning that I didn’t feel just a little twinge of anxiousness.
The empty halls, the stillness, the expectation of teaching and learning in difficult circumstances all brought me back to March 2020. We thought it would be a couple of weeks until we were “back to normal”.
But as I entered my room and got to work this morning, the Lord reminded me of something that trauma was trying to make me forget. Even if this situation was the same as March 2020, you are not the same person anymore.
Isn’t it interesting how trauma can do that to us? It can call us by an old name and we answer as if time has not passed. It can bring to the forefront of our minds all the past fear, failure, and insecurities as if they are fresh wounds.
We are not the same as we were, and I can most definitely say that we will not be the same as we are. We will continue to become.
I am learning that the “normalness” of life is really the integration of the past with the present. The unification of our past selves and current selves within our current circumstances is the process by which we become.
Trauma will remind us of who we were. It will try to call us by old names, force us into old habits, and trigger our negative thought cycles.
Trauma will inevitably put us on the defensive. Reminding us of how hard it was, how we, or others, have failed and how unfair life has been.
Things remain uncertain and hard decisions are having to be made each day, we are again, living with constant uncertainty.
If you are feeling the compulsion to publicly shame, blame, or criticize in this situation…Please don’t.
Publicly doing any of these three things might give you a false sense of belonging, because let’s be real, public criticism is often met with a response that validates our feelings. But what it does little of, is help our situation. It typically attacks a person or persons rather than the real issue.
If we can blame a person, or system, we can create a false sense of control. It might make us feel better for a moment, but what it won’t do is make anything better.
What we can recognize now, is that “shame, blame, and guilt response” has a real name and it is…FEAR.
Your fear is valid and does not have to be dismissed. Uncertainty is scary. Acknowledge that. Talk to someone, reach out for help. You are not alone.
What your fear does not do is validate an inhumane response to the suffering and struggle of others.
Whether you are tackling the continuation of this pandemic as an educator, business owner, service provider, working parent, stay at home parent, grandparent, friend, or any other title you carry I am here to tell you, you are not the same as you were in March 2020.
We have learned that compassion and empathy serve us in a much more productive way than anger driven shame, blame, and criticism. Compassion and empathy allow us to communicate criticism in a way that can improve the situation.
If you are wondering if your criticism is constructive ask yourself these questions:
- What is my motivation?
- What are my intentions?
- Who is it important that I communicate this to?
We are collectively going through something difficult. We are all affected. This is so hard. There are a lot of questions that are not just being left unanswered, but seem to be ultimately unanswerable at this time.
We feel the weight of decisions that have to be made. Some of us are having to make those hard decisions. Others of us, making the best out of the difficult decisions made by others.
Trauma and fear will seek to isolate and divide.
Compassion, empathy, and understanding are the antidotes that can can bring peace.
If we know better, will we do better?
Ultimately, the choice belongs to each of us. Will we seek to connect through negativity or through compassion? Will we work together to productively find answers or pick a side and choose polarization?
Will we answer fear and trauma when they call us by our old names? Or, will we step into what we have learned, and continue becoming?