The death anniversary is safely passed (I hope). Then it was on to the next thing. I had a performance evaluation this morning. Here in Country X, this now involves compiling a bunch of proof that you have actually done what you said you have done, even though this can be faked. Then writing a long report about how well you have achieved the goals you set for yourself in the beginning of the year. Because of the weird, progressive political tilt to education in this country, this involves a lot of gardening and picking up trash. The thing about being in a developing country that is trying to develop in a way that doesn’t self-destruct the country is you have to fight the natural tendency of human beings to do exactly that as soon as they are given the means to do so. Give them a 2-minute noodle wrapper, and most people who don’t know any better will throw it in the nearest stream. We spend a lot of time trying to teach kids not to do that, and they and their parents persist in it. People have been educated into dealing with the outcome of progress. Only one part of the evaluation is about teaching. The rest is what we would consider extra-curricular.

That’s really a birdwalk. But it does mean I needed to dig up a picture of me carrying stones to build a wall.

Looking back on the last year, I am not proud of it. I am not proud of my teaching work. I have, I think, fallen seriously short in a lot of way, and really not done it with the integrity I would like to have. I really didn’t register how much I was struggling all year, or how this impacted my work. I got to the performance evaluation, and I had to face it. I had to face it and I also had to recognize I have to conceal my shortcomings. I cannot be honest or have integrity about them, because I have things I want to do. I want to come back. I want to leave on a good note. I want to take care of C. These things are important to me, and they are more important to me than displaying an integrity about my failings that actually does not serve anyone. No one wants to know I fucked up. I don’t want anyone to know I fucked up. No one is going to feel better if I act according to my conscience, which says be honest. Suck it up and show your weaknesses. Absolutely no one wants me to do that.

Last night was a hard night.

I have not really been working on the report particularly. I have been kind of leading up to it, trying to cope with the grief so that I could approach it. I bought plane tickets. I wrote the exam that needed to be submitted on Tuesday. I cried a lot. And last night I had to get to work in earnest and do it, whether I liked it or not. So I did that. I got it done. It didn’t need to be spectacular. I am a foreigner and leaving, and no one particularly care. Also, they think I am a good teacher. Whatever my failings, I work hard. It’s very evident that I try. But I did enough that it seemed adequate.

I was awake nearly all night. Not necessarily doing it, but having emotions. I was working on creating documents in the area I felt particularly ashamed of, and I just felt overwhelmed with the shame of it. I began to seriously wish I weren’t still alive, that I hadn’t gotten myself so involved in life that I can’t really get out of it now. I mean, suicide has stopped being an option, no matter how painful life gets for me. I went to bed. I lay there and cried for a long time, just thinking how useless and worthless I am.

I woke up an hour or so later, afraid. I sat with the fear in my body—I feel it in my muscles mostly—and eventually I got up and worked. I couldn’t really leave it alone. I wasn’t able to sleep anyway. I got up, finished the work I felt ashamed of. I might have gone back to bed for a bit then. I can’t remember. I really only did sleep for maybe 2 hours last night.

I got everything done, made pancakes for C, and headed off for school. The performance evaluation itself went okay. I think I got some kind of average rating most likely, which is fine with me. I didn’t hope for more than that. It doesn’t matter as long as it isn’t bad. I got to see some of the things I have done well—in contrast to just looking at my failings. But I wonder what happened to me in the night when I was absolutely flooded with shame. What is really happening in my mind at times when I feel overwhelmed with worthlessness? Why is it happening? And what do I do about it? What will help that heal?

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