Monday, January 30, 2023

Anxiety and the Body and Anniversaries

At some point in the wee, small hours of the morning, I jolted awake, convinced I had forgotten to do the Church History assignment due on Saturday.  For a brief moment, I thought it was Sunday morning, or maybe late Saturday night, and I should get right up and do that response that was due.  Then I remembered that I don't have anything due in that class until Thursday.

I have yet to settle into a rhythm for my seminary classes, so I spend what feels like a substantial amount of time re-reading syllabi to make sure I haven't missed anything.  I do have writing due today, Monday, but I have hours to get it done.  I have a short paper on Luther due on Thursday, and I keep reminding myself that I have plenty of time to get that done.

Still, I am feeling anxiety deep in my body.  This morning, I reflected that maybe I'm also feeling some anniversary anxieties still left in the deep recesses of my body.  

Three years ago today, I made the first post on my blog that mentioned the new virus that was circulating in China.  I concluded this way:  

"It's the time of year when I'm reminded of the struggles that come from having a body: post-holiday weight gain that isn't magically vanishing, a cold that wants to take over, achy joints. 

But it could be worse. I'm always aware of how much worse it could be.

With this new corona virus, I hope we're not all about to find out how much worse it could be."

There are days when I'm still stunned at how much worse it turned out to be.  So many people gone.  Whenever I hear/read anyone get indignant about the great case of the disappearing U.S. worker and wondering where the work force has gone, I reply, "Many of them have died."  I don't know of anyone who said, "I hate working, so now, I'm just not going to work anymore.  How will I pay for food and rent?  I don't know.  I'll figure something out."

No.  We've had over 1 million deaths in the past 3 years, just from this disease alone.  Some of those people would have died of something else, but many of them needn't have died at all.

This week will mark the one year anniversary of being severed from my job.  For the most part, I've made my peace with that event--but then I feel this anxiety, and I wonder if I've really let myself process it all.  I know all the reasons why the new owners who bought the school let me go, but what makes it tough was that they let me go just a few months after they led me to think that I had a more secure future at the school than I had been thinking I had.  If it had been a long, slow slide to unemployment, the way that it had been for much of 2021, it would have been easier.  I would not have thoughts that returned to this question:  "What changed?  Why was I chosen and then unchosen?"  I can supply lots of possible answers, but I just don't know.  Most days, I don't care overly much.  Some days, it's still a bit painful, like a bruised shin.

Let me also remember that today, this very day, is the two year anniversary of discovering the program in which I am now enrolled at Wesley Theological Seminary.  It was a Saturday, and I saw the Facebook ad for the DMin program with Arts and Theology as a focus.  I was bummed--the DMin program is for people with different academic credentials who have been employed in a church position for several years.  But as I explored, I realized that the MDiv had the Arts and Theology track too.

As I went back to look at past blog posts from this day, I'm a bit comforted to see that I'm often feeling anxiety at the end of January.  A year ago, I was worried that I was getting behind in seminary classes, classes that had just begun.  Today I am grateful that I have whole days that I can devote to these classes, that I'm not trying to balance class work with online teaching with a full-time administrator job.

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