I talked to a former student on Skype recently; she was in my tenth grade English class my first year of teaching. She had been through a really difficult breakup and needed to talk it through. It was one of those breakups that happen again and again and again, where you keep having the same fight over and over but can’t quite let go. After she got everything off her chest and got some validation, which it seemed she needed, she asked how I was doing.
“I also have emotional ebola,” I said. I explained how I’ve recently fallen into an emotional vortex and have been trying in vain to navigate my way out. How at first I was deliriously happy, but then a month in the pain started. (By the way, did you know that when you allow yourself to feel things, you have to feel ALL THE THINGS? Like, you can’t just pick and choose your feelings?) Understanding this, she said to me:
“Well, you know - there’s a reason the word delirious is there!”
Touché. That whole cliché about the student becoming the teacher. We erupted into peals of laughter and I immediately felt better. She had come to me for emotional relief and had given me relief that I didn’t even know I needed.