Her pain encircles her like spikes,
Protective in the way that they
Keep us all as far away
As she can without the loss of eyes
Or skin or life we cling to now.
But we feel it all the same
And sometimes talking is the way
To iron out those creases full of pain,
To learn that hurting makes us real
And that a searing of the heart
Is normal when our loved ones choose to part.
I had a training session on how to deliver a PSHE lesson that other day. For those of you not in the UK it means Personal, Social and Health Education and it teaches students everything from basic first aid to sex ed.
Obviously I’m training to be an English teacher so as I sat listening to this lecture on how to deliver the lesson I felt every emotion there was in the book. I imagined myself standing in front of thirty teenagers and answering some of their awkward sex questions and I could feel myself squirm with embarrassment.
Then I found that there is also a lesson in bereavement that is supposed to be taught and I felt even more uncomfortable. I realise that some of my students will have experienced loss and it will be really hard for me to talk about it in a way that isn’t going to upset them or me.
I emailed the lecturer and asked about when something is too uncomfortable to teach and his reply was really helpful. He said that you should never have to teach something that is going to do you harm, but on the other hand, you can’t shirk your professional duties and not teach it because it makes you feel a bit squeamish.
It was worded nicely but it made me think that really, as humans, we need to be willing to feel that discomfort every now and then. If I’m not willing to get upset and maybe even show my vulnerabilities then how am I going to grow and how are the students going to grow?
I took from that email that I need to push myself even if it really hurts and it causes people to lash out at me or cry or not like me very much. I’m obviously not going to set out to make people hate me but I need to prepare myself for this and really take the sting out of it. People have pain that has nothing to do with me and a kid lashing out at me normally has more to do with the lesson and how it relates to their life, than anything to do with me.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that we should probably have that uncomfortable conversation. As long as it’s for the right reasons and you are doing it with a certain amount of love wrapped around it, then it’s probably going to be worth it. Remember, some of these uncomfortable moments are the ones that shape our lives the most acutely.