how to survive when your significant other (or roommate!) is an emotionally exhausted teacher

(note: as has been the case recently, I’m typing in lowercase for the aesthetic. life’s too short for grammatical prescriptivism, so just let me live.)

happy Sunday, y’all—or, as I call it, “teacher Monday.” I’ve been doing some mentoring and coaching for a first-year teacher recently, and we’ve had a lot of conversations about how much of an emotional toll the job takes on our relationships, not just ourselves. it got me to thinking about how I’m having one of the healthiest, most productive school years of my life this year—and, I have to say, I think a huge part of it has to do with the fact that I am now married and I have a wonderful and supportive partner. that made me think more about what we’ve done to make our relationship work despite the wild stress of my job (and my second job, and grad school…)

DISCLAIMER: while I have been going to therapy for eight years at this point (so, my whole teaching career), I am in no way a mental health professional and am simply speaking about my experience! Please remember that every person is different and so is every relationship, so your mileage will definitely vary… but I know I can be hard to deal with in general and my job doesn’t help, and it’s taken a lot of trial-and-error to figure out what works, so I figured I would share.

so, with aaaaaaaaall that in mind, here are my top five tips:

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reflections, week 9

running hella late this week because it’s been a really tough one… February is usually a difficult month for me emotionally, with this week being the hardest and, although I feel I am doing a lot better than I have in previous years, it still has not been a walk in the park…

write something every day (except Shabbat). I ended up writing a lot longhand this week due to starting my second playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition, so I have no idea what my word count is, but I think I only skipped a day this week!

be better about money. I might feel differently about this in a day or two, but right now I am loving that I got so many of my things paid today and that I’d planned properly for the start of this month. I also got a notification from Mint today that my credit score went up more than 10 points and, even though I recognize that credit scores are often bullshit, it’s still nice to get that external validation.

self-validate more. I honestly have been rocking this resolution, but today I found myself more insecure than I have so far this year, and I definitely asked for a lot of validation for my work in the awards assembly at work. Relatedly, I pushed myself way too hard with that assembly and I am now c r a s h i n g hard.

overall, I think I’m starting to hit the “I am too tired for this wall”… my habit tracker for this month was absolutely tragic despite my best intentions, and not even the bullet journaling is something I did consistently. but we’re on to a new week soon and a new month, so I’m going to take Shabbat to recharge and then hit the ground running to make next month better.

who knows? I might even actually keep up with Duolingo this time 😂

reflections, week 8

a day late because I was on a field trip with some students yesterday… but, as y’all probably know, tarde pero seguro (late but certain) is the name of the game for me…

write something every day (except Shabbat). I’ve been trying to do even small bits of writing on days when I’m running out of time or energy to write extended pieces—so the hope is to keep making progress on that! my double-class term is almost done, so I’m hoping I can commit to working on one project that I write on every day.

be better about money. this month has been tough in terms of money because both the roommate and I have gotten shorter checks than usual due to various shenanigans, but I’m happy to report that we’ve stayed on top of things as best as possible and that things are looking up for the next couple of months. yesterday I took the CTA for a long-complicated commute instead of just getting an Uber, so I’m feeling good about that too!

self-validate more. this continues to be an area of strength most of the time—but I still sometimes reach out for external validation before I can commit to finalizing some things, which is something that I still want to work on. I have really reduced my negative self-talk, though, and that has been a huge struggle for me for years, so I’m glad to have that to celebrate.

I’ve got some things to get off my chest that I’ve started to write about—but it might have to wait for two more weeks, or until the double-class term ends!

today I experienced… executive function????

okay, y’all, today has been wild in the best of ways because I have actually knocked out just about everything on my to-do list!

the best part, at least for me, is that I did not even have to give myself an intense pep talk, or bribe myself, or even do anything other than decide to do a thing and then do it. it’s seriously life-changing to remember that such a thing is possible because I honestly do not know when was the last time I felt like this was. I literally worked for about seven hours and did my laundry, cleaned my room, wrote three papers (so I’m now ahead in my grad class!) and did some grading!

(granted, I did not a whole lot over the weekend, other than writing a brief paper last night, so perhaps it was the actually resting that did it? either way, I am hella, hella grateful)

here’s to more functional days, y’all.

resolutions, week 6

(yes the title has been shortened, let’s roll)

write something every day (except Shabbat) – after a fair amount of consideration, I am now counting days where I wrote something academic as days in which I wrote, just not tracking those words in my overall count… which means that I did, in fact, write every day over the past week (even if my word count dipped quite a bit due to the pile of final essays I was grading)! the routine is not where I want it to be yet, as I’m not writing for consistent amounts of time or at consistent times, but I do feel more creative!

be better about money. talked to an accountant re: taxes, but now have to duke it out with the IRS. hopefully next week that will be sorted. this month is going to be hella tough financially since we’re having a shorter paycheck due to weather-related school cancellations and it’s the month where our roommate’s job switches to a different payment schedule… but we’re trying to stay positive!

self-validate more. therapist noted that I actually did this a lot in our session this week (I literally said the words “I’m proud of myself” and, while I have felt that before, I don’t think I’ve ever dropped the words quite so casually!) and it felt great to have someone recognize that this is something I’ve been working on! I’ve also just been celebrating my own success, even when it’s minor, a lot more… coworker says I’m starting to treat myself like I treat other people.

continuing to make progress so far… we’ll see how this goes. until next week!

revisiting my resistance manifesto

I wrote this two years ago and, unfortunately, it is still way too true—so in the light of today’s awfulness, I’m revisiting it and putting it here for posterity.

NOTES: I used the original spelling of 43’s name to avoid trolls but also because I refuse to let that surname die. Also, this is unedited except for the addition of bold italics for emphasis and the rewriting of the last sentence, which I edited to reflect my current description of my identity.

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weekly update on resolutions

let’s check in on progress for my three big-picture goals for the year…

Write something every day (except Shabbat). I’ve actually only missed a couple of days (literally) so far this month and I’ve written just under 15,200 words (not counting this post). It has been really exciting, but grad school started this week so I expect I’ll slow down a little bit on the output… but I am going to keep working to find time to write! I’ve also been reading for leisure almost every day, even if for just a few minutes at a time, to give myself time to recharge before going back to work. It’s been really nice so far!

Be better about money. I’ve been trying to spend less with mixed results, but I have made an effort to track all my bills and get everything on AutoPay and just generally make sure I’m current on all accounts and have a clearer idea of how much money is in my checking at all times! Overall, I do feel like I’ve been doing better at not hiding from my finances, but I know that there is still a lot of work to be done! On a bright side, I did already prep all of my itemized deductions for my side gig (including my miles!) so I am literally just waiting on W-2s/1099s so I can file my taxes.

Self-validate more. One of the reasons I started a bullet journal (which my therapist is thrilled about!) is so I can have visual representations of my progress, which will make it easier to remember that I am growing and I should be giving myself credit for it. I’ve also been working on celebrating my successes (even if all I did was finish my to-do list) and talking myself through the stumbles in a less negative way—so I’m excited about my progress so far!