I am powerless over my students’ punctuality/attendance and my life has become unmanageable. In this moment, I can feel the misery arising in me. It’s 8 am and only about one-half of the class has arrived. I could acknowledge the ones who are on time, reward them somehow, and punish the rest. That’s within my power, right? What do I do? This is where I can go the way of my higher power or have a codependency flare up.
I thank my higher power and Codependents Anonymous for giving me the wisdom and grace to find “right” action. Instead of just ruminating and stewing as I wait for late students to arrive (or maybe they will not come at all, further reflecting on my effectiveness as a teacher) soaking up shame, hating myself for not being more interesting, more pleasing, inspiring, more disciplined in writing lesson plans.
“I’m not enough” reverberates through my soul. Never enough. Then, rebounding into rage at their rejection of all I have to offer, the richness and flexibility of the curriculum which I have so thoughtfully and diligently provided. And worst of all, I don’t want to unleash my rage and shame upon their sleepy souls in the form of sarcastic comments like, “Great job, you’re only 10 minutes late.” Or “Boy, you really care about this class a lot.” Or “Thank you so much for your stellar punctuality.” I know that these types of comments and my reaction to their being late only pushes them away and reinforces my own cycle of self-flagellation. It pushes me toward my “lovely” addictions to alcohol, drugs, pills, food, sex etc. and away from God, away from the serenity which I so deeply crave.
But today, after saying my Third Step Prayer, especially the “relieve me of the bondage of self” part, I stumble across a simple solution. At 8 am, class starting time, I simply begin to question a student who is on time about his progress on his upcoming project. I quickly become engaged and pleased with the progress he’s made so far as well as his knowledge of the book he’s been reading for class. I begin to model directions and ideas about how he might move forward in his work. I am being professional, helpful, and engaged with one of my students. This is what I signed up for. All the bubbling shame and rage has subsided, softened, disappeared (for now). I have been restored to sanity (Step 2).
Thank you, CoDA, for giving me the tools and awareness of my “abandonment triggers” and a way to practice healthy and loving relationships in this wonderful world.
Jim H. 7/19/2022