Emotional Capacity

In my parents’ driveway, I sat talking excitedly to a friend I haven’t seen for months. We both love to talk so our words always climb over each other like overexcited puppies. I couldn’t even remember last time we made it out to a hangout with friends or even saw some of our closest friends face-to-face. There was a day during the last week of school where I had to shut myself up in my classroom, all of my students had graduated so I didn’t have to teach, and knew I had to stay away from others because I was not my best self.

Though I want to be all parts of everyone’s lives, my emotional meter was above capacity and I needed a time out.

Sometime in March, I activated my hermit-mode to survive teaching until the end of the year at both the high school and community college, finishing an online grad class, getting seniors students to walk on graduation day, prepping for the Below the Belt Stride and Thrive 5K/1-mile Run at Hopkins, and going to Colorado on vacation. I holed up into myself to survive and hoped others would understand – to include blogging.

When in Colorado, it took me a day or two to realize I was on vacation. The weight of the last few months slowly scaled off, and I found myself standing, snow flurries in the air in June, at the top of the Rockies. I stood at the cliff with arms stretched out. With arms extended, I knew I needed to push myself out of my hermit crab shell and see people again, and do things, and build relationships. The freedom of my arms floating at 14,000 feet reminded me how I needed to embrace other people in my life. I can’t love people if I’m closed up into myself. Sometimes I need the space to regroup, but I know I took too long this time.

I think most of us ebb and flow with our emotional capacity for people and the daily grind. I still haven’t figured out how to manage it without activating the hermit inside to recharge in isolation. I’m getting better – It’s all a part of processing cancer and trying to see it as a singular event rather than the background music to which every movement in my life plays. I want to get better and make an effort to process with others – with arms stretched wide.


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