Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When Chaos Reigns Supreme

My life is chaos. Of course, it's always chaos, but it's a bit more than I'm used to these days. (Disclaimer: I have a feeling this post is going to be a bit of a downer, so please skip it, if you're in the mood for the usual giggles. It also might be my last for a while, until I can get a handle on life's craziness.)

I was handling things pretty darn well for a while, if I do say so myself: The do-it-yourself kitchen project that has stalled (Week #5 and counting...), resulting in a house that is filled with peeling laminate flooring, piles of tools, dry wall dust, paint cans, and NO COUNTER SPACE! I'm doing OK with that part of things, overall. I mean, eventually I'll have a kitchen again, right? True, I had to cancel Thanksgiving at our house, but this project is sure to be finished by our annual Christmas party, right? Right?!! (Somebody, please just tell me it'll be done by then. Anybody?)

Then, there are a couple of good friends who are facing some very tough times and need extra support and love. It's my pleasure and privilege to offer it, and I do so with no regrets. But, there's definitely some secondary trauma that goes along with loving someone who is suffering, eh? Shoot, even if you don't know the person who's suffering. We all get secondary trauma just from turning on the news. Tragedies and atrocities abound! No doubt about it, it can wear on your soul...

Add to this mix, the very recent letter from my hubby's employer, just letting us know that he, along with many others, is on the chopping block for possible layoffs next year. (This would be the second layoff for us in two years. My poor husband. My poor family.) How do I handle this particular news? One word: Insomnia. Just like last time. Oh, and wine.

Then there's the meeting last week, during which I, along with all of my fellow middle school counselors, was told that my position is at risk for the next set of educational budget cuts. I've never been busier helping my students, their families, and my staff handle the ups and downs of this crazy life, try to find some academic and emotional success, and keep a little forward momentum. Never! But, everyone's dispensable when money's on the line, eh? (At least we'll have a nice kitchen, if we have to sell the house and move in with my parents. That is, if we ever finish the kitchen. SIGH.)

But, the hits just keep on coming. One week ago, one of our middle schools burned down. No one was hurt. It happened in the middle of the night. But, it's a devastating loss. Around 600 students and staff lost their building, their supplies, their entire school community. I worked there for six years before being transferred to my current location, and I am grieving right along with them. I drove to the building the afternoon it happened, and I stood in the drizzle and cried as I watched the firefighters still struggling to drown the burning embers. I felt helpless. I felt sad. I felt angry. But now, I have the opportunity to support their school community in a very tangible way: My school is welcoming almost 200 displaced seventh graders, and their teachers, into our building. I'm proud and happy that we are doing this, and I'm so impressed with the empathy and generosity that my students and staff have demonstrated all week, as plans were being discussed adapted, changed again (and again, and again...), and finalized. But, the reality is that it is an overwhelming endeavor to make room for that many extra students and staff, to find a way to build a sense of a new school community, to put out all of the little fires involved in such a huge transition, and, as a counselor, to help my students and my own staff cope with the changes and the sacrifices, while also providing the necessary support to the staff and students who have suffered such a profound loss. I've worked so much overtime that I've barely had any quality time with my own family over the last week. And, it's getting to me. I'm tired. I'm on edge. I'm nervous about how things are going to go when the new kids show up for their first day with us tomorrow. Will the orientation I've put together be enough to support them on this incredibly important first day? Will the efforts we've all made, from making posters to writing letters, be enough to make them realize they are safe and wanted and in good hands? I'm stressed out and spread too thin, helping with the planning and organizational pieces, while juggling the emotional needs of my own students, as well as two struggling staffs, and handling my own complex emotions at the same time. I miss my husband and kids. I've been with them, yet not really with them, y'know? I'm empty, and I need to refill, somehow. Is the weekend really only 3 days away?

Kitchen disaster. Friends grieving. Layoffs looming. Work madness...Chaos reigns supreme!

But...My family is healthy. My hubby and sons love me. My job fulfills me, even when it exhausts me. I have wonderful parents, who are there for me in every way that counts. I have friends who support me and are always ready to make me laugh or to let me cry. So, in spite of the chaos, life is good. Challenging, but good. And so, I go on... (But, I might not blog for a while. I really, really, really need to sleep sometime.)



  1. umm, it's ok to be overwhelmed Beth. No disclaimer necessary. Clearly you are juggling alot. I wish I had more to offer you than words, but just keep in mind that the chaos will pass eventually. You'll get through it all. No pain, no gain, eh? Thinking of you...

  2. Hang in there- I definetly understand the friend in need issue. Sometimes it is hard to offer the support you should to a friend in need when you yourself are in need. Good luck with everything. My fingers will be crossed for you.

  3. Wow, you really do have a lot on your plate and I'm sorry for all the bummers recently. I second Momma Hunt, hang in there and good luck!

  4. I'm so glad you were able to find things to be thankful for at the end of your post. It's so difficult to find the silver lining sometimes, but even just appreciating the things and people you have around you can brighten your spirits a little. Things will get better for you soon and we'll all be here for you when you are able to come back.

  5. Your last para covered it all - you've got your health and your family's love and really that's all we really need