I was paid a professional compliment last week, in regards to the work I accomplished at a former campus of mine. I was referred to as "a machine", meant in the most positive way; I got the work done, day in and day out. I managed a program, built relationships, created a safe space for everyone in my learning community within our library walls.
I ran with that image in discussion later, turning myself into a Transformer with library scanners for hands. I couldn't stop laughing about the moniker: Christine the Machine. It fits; I do plow through my days--gleefully, I might add--taking care of library business in the same way I took care of classroom duties. I think most educators do the same.
Still chuckling about it at home, an unbidden memory popped up.
In middle school, I experienced suicidal thoughts.
Serious thoughts about taking my own life. I don't remember the exact circumstances. I do remember journaling about it. I remember feeling isolated, an outsider, not even on the fringes of any of the cliques that exist in those tumultuous in-between years. I was called "Mrs. Einstein", "curve-breaker", "four-eyes" in the pejorative, and they were all true--I was smart, I did set the curves, I did wear glasses--so the barbs stuck, worked their way in to my heart.
I remember writing one line in particular. "It's as if they think I'm a robot without feelings."
I never acted on those thoughts. My parents had no clue about that episode until years later, when they found my journals while cleaning out the garage. They were shocked, and saddened, until I told them that they were the reason I never made plans to end my life; I knew it would hurt them to the core, and they weren't any part of the reason for my depression. I knew they loved and cared for me, and that kept me alive.
I wish I could go back and hug my thirteen year old self, and show her how far that robot has come. She's transformed into a machine, working hard to create the same safe spaces her family provided for her, just when she needed it.