I Can’t Breathe Now But I Can’t Let Go

The song, You Kill Me with Silence, came on as I drove home yesterday after another extremely busy day. As I drove towards my home, the lyric that is the title of this blog hit me. These particular song lyrics have never meant much to me, personally, as I have never been in a relationship that might be defined as emotionally challenging, at best, and abusive, at worst. Yet, yesterday, I finally felt that line of lyric acutely.

My summer is not over as I technically do not have to report to work, to school, for another week and a few days. Yet, this week has found me at multiple meetings connected to teaching. As Monday turned to Tuesday and Tuesday to Wednesday, I found myself more and more exhausted and, frankly, more sad. So, if I did not have to report yet and it is not making me happy, how/why have I had the week I have had? Simple. I am my own worst enemy. Sort of.

One aspect of my personality that I’m confident is always present is the desire to make things better. This philosophy or characteristic or whatever you want to call it has been around since I was a kid. I think back to my junior high days when I found out about a man being mistreated for his religious beliefs in my home town. At the time, I found myself relating to his religious minority status and instantly wanted to help. I didn’t ignore the situation but instead ran towards it. I openly expressed support for the guy and even showed up to join protestors pushing for religious tolerance. I did this at the age of 11 or 12.

This aspect of my personality didn’t go away in high school as I found myself going to the school district’s superintendent about the health curriculum at the same time that I tried to defend friends of mine who identified as LGBTQ. I won’t lie. This did not make me popular with my peers or even my teachers but I couldn’t…not do it. Something within me said that I should try to make things better, if I could. College continued the pattern as I helped to form an organization fighting for diversity. While this resulted in being on a first name basis with my college president and dean, it terrified my parents, at times. They worried that my actions, while having the best of intentions, would result in harm to me and my future.

Fast forward to adulthood. This push at the core of my being pushed me into education. If I could make things better, I should, right? Of course! Now, I am about to enter my 23rd year of teaching. (BTW, I think this makes me like a million years old. My theory is that teaching is like dog years. One year of teaching equals three years or something like that.) Things are not always awesome when it comes to teaching. So, what do I do? I don’t run. No. I fight. If I can back it better, I should, right? This leads me to join a number of committees to fix some of the most significant problems at my school. (Hence why I have been at meetings all week.) I became campaign manager for a candidate for school board. I do what I can to make it better.

This attitude of mine can be seen beyond the world of teaching and politics (this is obviously where I get my political activism from). I have even done with when it comes to fandom. When Rhonda and I started down this journey of blogging, researching and writing, not only did I want to understand fandom but I had hoped, in the back of my mind, that our actions might make it better. It might make fandom a more fun place. This is really where our meet-ups came from. I don’t want anyone to be a lonely fan so if we can do something for fans to meet each other, we should! Maybe if we question our actions as fans, it might lessen the worse aspects of our fan community. Yet, I have seen little change and often received backlash. This time, though, I backed off and try to keep fandom where it needs to be for *me* personally. I have to ignore the negatives in order to keep fandom as my fun place. If people don’t like us, I have to blow it off. I don’t have time or energy to fight on this front, too. I have to give what is left of my ability to fight to my job and to my community (local, state, national and global).

Now, much like the lyric said, I am feeling a little like I cannot breathe. It is all feeling like too much right now but I cannot let go. I haven’t been able to walk away from much that I have tried to make positive changes in and for. When it comes to fandom, I have been able to back off enough to keep going, while ignoring the parts of fandom that are difficult but I cannot do that with work (unless someone has a really awesome job out there that would pay me what I’m making as an old teacher with lots of education and experience!). I cannot do it when it comes to the larger society either. This goes beyond politics but to the country and world as a whole.

I’m not sure where this leaves me as I move into one of my final weekends before students walk into my classroom. For now, I’ll appreciate that these Duran lyrics spoke to me in a way that got me thinking and feeling. Processing how things are going can only help me keep in the fight.

-A

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