Friday, February 28, 2014

Pain for Gain double take:

I have one of the highest pain thresholds of anyone I know. My earliest memory of pain: hand slashes broken glass. Shock ridden, I didn't start crying until several seconds after the fact. By then, the blood had begun trickling down the length of my arm. I had felt the pull of my skin when the glass tore through it, but I cried out because it was the first time I had seen my blood, so red, pour out of me. I was going to die. I ran like hell for my parents. 

Looking back, the pain was there, but I was forward-thinking, past the cut, at the blood pulsing out of my wound and splotching onto the concrete in perfect little circles. I was focused on watching what it meant, if the blood didn't stop. I never acknowledge pain face-to-face. That's how I got through two major reconstructive foot surgeries, twice re-learning how to walk, and the worst timing in the planet for appendicitis -- I flash forward to when it won't hurt anymore with ever so cool a head and, hey, might as well squeeze in a nap while I lie here and get a root canal. 

I've never broken a bone, gotten punched in the face, or been physically abused in any way. I've never had to know pain to be anything but an inevitable part of life. I am thankful for that. Whether it's been running into table corners, sore muscles from exercise, or my body doing its healing thing, my pain threshold has let me categorize pain into something greater than the pain itself. 

As long as I have been journaling and blogging, I have tried to dig deeper into my struggles and moments of complete loss. I try to get underneath the anxiety and find an explanation for my feelings. Why do I feel this way? Is my anger brought on my own impossibly high standards or by a conflict of belief systems? What can I learn from this? How can I start to move on, let go of the troubling thoughts and worries, and find the good? My personal and public writing has always reflected this effort to channel the confusion into something, in the least, thought provoking.

It's been six months since I started working as a native English teacher in a Korean elementary school. What finally pushed me to write some posts that may not be thought provoking and won't have the usual upbeat, sarcastic tone was meeting my new co-teacher. Likewise, talking with friends in my program and reading blogs about teaching in Korea, I realized that it's not just my grumpy-cat personality or a frustrated lack of optimism that explain why I have felt like shit the past couple of weeks. 

So here marks the start of a few posts that will put down the shovel and will begin to admit the emotional strain of teaching in Korea. 

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