It’s amazing how a niggling little pain somewhere on your body can become the huge, insurmountable, central issue that shapes your day, your attitude, and probably even the days and attitudes of those around you.
Toothache, for example. Ever tried to put a toothache to the back of your mind?
Or period pain – even worse because of the accompanying emotional rollercoaster and desire to curl up under your duvet and cry about the state of the world while eating peanut butter from the jar and watching Gilmore Girls or similar.
Even something as trivial as a paper cut can block out everything else but the awareness of the throbbing pain in your finger. The other week, in the middle of a rather hectic day, I was trying to sort out squabbles and comfort a crier and sharpen pencils and hand out workbooks all at the same time, and one of said workbooks rather impressively sliced my thumb open with its hard plastic cover as it flew from my hand to the desk. I howled “OH, FFFFFFF-!!!”, dropping everything else and stopping my exclamation as I saw all the young eyes turning interestedly towards me. “Ouch,” I said, somewhat less dramatically, and watched in dismay as blood dripped all over a newly-cleaned (by me, incidentally, lest you assume there’s actually someone paid to clean my classroom) desk.
“Teacher, peee!!! Peeeee!” squealed the occupants of the desk. Not an instruction, in fact, but the Korean word for blood. (They never remember “blood”, for some reason, so you get used to hearing about pee in odd contexts, but you can bet your life they’d remember a swear word if you howled it out just once by accident. ) I tried and failed to continue with the class while sucking my thumb, but the pain blocked out everything else, and I eventually had to go stick a band aid on it before I could concentrate again.
Anyway, none of the previous paragraphs were intended to happen at all. I was only going to say that little pains can be distracting. So when you’ve got a big pain, like a sore neck for example, the world around becomes exhausting and irritating. Apparently I have terrible posture – it comes from years of slouching my shoulders and keeping my head down, thanks to being much taller than most children my age and feeling very gangly and uncute and out of place. I felt like a giant, and was very conscious of the fact that other girls got the “sweet little girl” treatment at school, while I was often treated as if I was older than I really was. I felt like I was the odd one out, and it made me very self-conscious. So of course I tried to make myself smaller and less conspicuous, and now I don’t know how to stand/sit up straight and hold my head up. My neck and back are starting to pay for it.
So today, everything is irritating. The fact that I have a job is nothing but a nuisance. The children I normally love are nothing but menaces. Every comment, every glance, every question from my colleagues is obviously a slight or a sneer or an intrusion. One colleague in particular has been royally pissing me off for a while now anyway, and through my pain-distorted eyes it’s a million times worse, but I can’t even rant about it here in case said colleague happens to stumble across my blog and recognise the person about whom I’m ranting, and that pisses me off, too.
And now my boss is threatening to take me to a scary man who will stick a million needles in my skin in the name of therapy.
I am extremely glad that this is a three-day weekend in Korea, even though I can’t actually remember why and currently have no interest in finding out. (I’m also rather put out because for some reason I had it in my head that we were getting Monday-Wednesday off, not just Monday. I don’t know where that came from, but it was very disappointing to discover my error this morning. But anyway.) I am going to lie flat on my back with my head supported by pillows, and spend three days muttering to myself about wishing I’d listened to all the grown-ups who repeatedly said things like “Don’t slouch! Sit up straight! Straighten your back!”.
Sigh. Coffee not helping.