An Unfortunate Turn of Events

I usually try to take the challenges I encounter because I’m bipolar and write about them here in a safe and secure place, hoping to inspire those of you who also have a diagnosis to keep working to improve yourselves and not to quit.

Unfortunately, today’s article is not going to be that kind of a post. I feel like my life is over today in a more real and complete way than I think I can honestly say I ever have before. I am at a crossroads today.

My husband, the principal, came home recently and told my daughter and me that he believes the state of Texas is going to force parents to send their students back to in-person schooling after the Thanksgiving break. My daughter and I were floored. She’s a remote student and I am former secondary teacher with ten years experience who is also certified in elementary education. We’ve been rocking remote learning and enjoying it very much. Chloe and I do not feel it is safe, especially with winter coming and the news of covid spread so dire, for her to return to school.

On a side note, my 9 year old daughter found out that I used to be a teacher when she was in first grade and has been eagerly clamoring to be homeschooled ever since. Each of the three school years since have begun with tears and fights because she desperately wants to stay home and be with me all day and believes I’d “be the best teacher for [her].” My husband has always said that public school is the best place for her, and, in addition, that I wasn’t “stable” enough to homeschool her. The past three years for me have been iffy, they’ve been all over the mood map, and I never pushed back on this assertion of his too hard, also believing public school would be Chloe’s best learning environment.

But, that was all before the pandemic. Now, school is a dangerous place. The benefits of socialization are outweighed by coronavirus and the possibility of Chloe catching a disease that could kill her, or at least drastically endanger her health for possibly the rest of her life. I have also done some research on homeschooling and it’s many benefits for children, found an online curriculum for fourth grade that includes French (a language that at one time I was fluent in), a homeschooling community we could join of moms and kids for small classes and after school activities, I am brimming with supplemental lesson ideas, novel units I could create, I have a Pinterest board called “Chloe’s Remote Learning” dedicated to the academic fundamentals as well as art lessons, emotional health, teaching the growth mindset and mindfulness activities for kids to promote wellness.

While I was doing this research, I came across some interesting facts: homeschooled students are usually smarter than their public school peers, and an individualized program for your child’s unique learning style and interests means only about 3-4 hours of school during each week day, thereby freeing up time for lots of enrichment activities, real-world experiences and field trips.

I don’t think I’ve written much about why I resigned from my high school English/SAT Prep teaching jobs. It was because I ran out of Family Medical Leave during that last school year while I was trying to recover from an episode and so I made the decision to resign. I miss teaching. I love writing lesson plans. I love explaining new concepts and seeing that lightbulb blink on in someone’s mind. I love passing out truly earned A’s. I love learning new things. I love sharing my love for education.

Who better to teach than the most important student in the world to me—Chloe! How better to redeem my stilted career than to put my skills to their best use possible: helping my daughter reach her full potential. It would be the greatest mission of my life. I would be there to watch her blossom and grow every step of the way. I would get to see everything! What a blessing and an amazing journey it would be!

But, my husband said no. He said that he doesn’t trust that my health, although “regained,” will hold. What he’s saying to me, it feels like, is that all the hard work I put into “getting better” was for nothing—if I’m still not deemed healthy enough to homeschool my daughter in order to save her from a pandemic and a serious, even deadly, disease, then I say that all the incredibly hard work I’ve been doing in therapy has little intrinsic value…

Chloe is the most important part of my life. My world is really pretty small, and it revolves around her. The fact that I’m not being trusted to educate my daughter means that I can’t protect her, and if I can’t protect her, I’ve failed as a mother, and since I only have two “jobs” (mothering and writing), I am having a hard time coming up with a reason to want to keep going.

I’m not mad at my husband. She’s his daughter too. But it cuts me to the quick that he doesn’t believe in me. It cuts off my will to live. It makes me hate myself. After all, had I been a different person who had been capable of more successfully handling my father’s rape, I wouldn’t have developed a mental illness; and, therefore, I would be able to keep my daughter safe at home.

I called dr Allison at 4:58 today, 2 1/2 hours ago, a Friday, and left a message asking if we could move my normal Tuesday appointment up to Monday because I realized then that my feelings surrounding this unfortunate turn of events are massive, complicated, dangerous and possibly life-threatening. After “the principal” said no to homeschooling today in what became an argument, I had to go to my room to hide my tears— the argument had dumped me straight into a shame and depression spiral of furious journaling and raw, desperate agony.

I happened to see a Noom commercial on tv while I was heave-choking and practically hyperventilating and I said out loud to no one, “Wow. That’s what I need. An app to help me go on a Kristen M McCurry/Marie K Johnston diet! I just need to cut back on ‘me’ and I’d feel better!” It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

Any good Buddhist will tell you that “wherever you go, there you are.” It’s a reason in the past that I’ve cited to myself as the real and main reason to commit suicide in the first place—I didn’t want to live with me, each time of the 10 attempts this fact was the same, although the reasons for that fact were sometimes different.

At this point, I wouldn’t say I’m feeling suicidal, but I can think of a ton of self-destructive things I can do to “punish” myself for “letting Chloe down.” I feel like I want to go back to old habits like starving myself, drinking, smoking real cigarettes…

Anyhow, to make a long story longer, Chloe heard me crying. Unfortunately, I told her basically what had happened and then Chris came in. This is where the story seems about to come to one of those happy endings I was telling you about…

Chris says, “Ok, you can homeschool her then” like it was no big deal while pretending I didn’t just spend two hours crying and shame spiraling into suicidal ideation because I have a medical condition. But, I thought, at least Chloe and I are getting what we want.

But, while getting dinner ready, I said “thanks for changing your mind—I feel so much better now,” to which he didn’t reply at all. It was then that I realized he still doesn’t want me to homeschool…He only relented because I got so upset, to buy time, or whatever, but the point is that he lied.

So, I end this post the way it began: what do you do when your husband would rather his only child contract coronavirus than let his bipolar wife homeschool her?

Here’s to all the parents out there who are dealing with remote learning, before and after school care, and who have anxiety about sending their kids back to in-person learning!

Thank y’all for reading! I appreciate the support!

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