I think actually I am sick.
In assembly, they were making an announcement about mumps. There is, yet again, a mumps outbreak. It’s the 21st century and we have wi-fi at school now, but we don’t vaccinate for mumps. All of a sudden, I began to feel very sick. Now, sickness freaks me out anyway, and I thought I was just doing that. I was having a reaction to a discussion of sickness, but the feeling did not pass. I was standing there during the national anthem and feeling very sick and very faint. VP Ma’am was standing next to me, and as I started to feel that I might actually fall, I held onto her sleeve. She grasped my hand very firmly, and after a second, said, “Do you want to go in?” or something like that and she shepherded me into the staff room and sat me down in my chair and put my scarf under my head. “Rest for some time. You will feel better.” Then she went away. She has class first period.
After a little while, someone else appeared at my table, “Miss?” It was IT Ma’am’s very good friend who teaches the National Language in the younger grades. “Are you okay?” She suggested I drink water, and that seemed wise. She asked if I had eaten breakfast. Indeed I had.
So I told her I didn’t know what happened to me. I was getting a fever. Art Sir or whatever I have been calling him suggested I take Tylenol, and that seemed like a good idea too. So I did that. I sat there for a while. The staff room kind of cleared out, because most teachers in my room have class first period, and I sat there mostly alone. Nothing seemed to be getting better. I was burning up and sweating and then freezing cold. After a little while, I went up to ask the principal if I could go home. I had to fill a form out, and then I came downstairs and wrote out an assignment for the kids in my classes to do so that hopefully they won’t be bouncing off the walls for 2 periods. A kid from class 3 happened to come to get something from his teacher’s desk, and I gave the assignment to him for his class. On the way out, I went by one of the Class 4 rooms (the other seemed to be empty.) and gave the assignment to them. They looked suitably worried. Then I came home.
I got home and felt terrified.
It seemed to me that probably I started to get sick last night, and I was literally so afraid to feel my body that I couldn’t feel that I was getting physically sick. I did have an idea I had a bit of a sore throat, but I think the body ache and the fever are much more triggering, much more systemic kinds of sensations, and I just didn’t feel them. I noticed my emotional reaction: I felt hopeless and trapped. But I didn’t notice the physical sensations, because that was too scary.
I think it is very different to be sick now, because I know there is only one of me. It’s as though I didn’t know it was my body before. It was kind of an appendage, but it wasn’t mine in particular. It seemed to belong to everyone. I had no sense of ownership, and so I did not have to experience the fear of being vulnerable. I kind of think the vulnerability I feel now is normal. It’s just that usually when kids are small and feel vulnerable, that feeling gets soothed. They aren’t so completely overwhelmed by it. I think sometimes I experience these very normal things—fragility, worry, a longing for closeness—and they are new to me, so I don’t know how to handle it. I remember in the winter, when C was gone, that I missed her a lot, and there was a fear I had because of my disorganized attachment, but I think it was also just new to me. It was new to me to have someone be the only one of themselves for me, and to worry and to feel an attachment. I am sure I have had those feelings before, but I didn’t know I was having them. I fled from them. I didn’t have to manage them. I just fled.