So I’ve just returned from a school trip with the whole of Year 8 to Northern France. Travelled by coach for the whole thing! Utterly exhausted. Good week – full of culture, history and exploring.
The side I wasn’t expecting? This damned romantic quandary to haunt me yet more strongly. The worst I was expecting was misbehaving kids – that didn’t even happen!
It all started when, as staff, we were given our info booklets. One page had next of kin contact details for everyone – each staff member had a partner down; some said partner, others husbands or wives. Mine had my mum. Good start – nothing like making me feel inadequate.
Even worse – the whole trip was (naturally) permeated by adult conversations about… their significant others back home. Age range of staff here was 22 – 60 something. Didn’t enjoy this highlighting but it’s only natural so I got on with the trip and tried to smile through it.
Here’s the real clincher though. A colleague of mine who also started her NQT year alongside mine was on the trip too. I’ve spoken to her a couple of times over the year and we get on. But I was never interested as such for two reasons: one, she had just got married the previous summer, and two, I didn’t really know her. Well, being a little blunt, this trip has made me develop a crush for her. I’m under no illusions – this is simple attraction, not love. But it’s simply added to my woes.
Here’s how my brain works with attraction. You’re easy on my eye – grand. I’ve noticed. You’re intelligent and compassionate – now I’m interested. You’re introverted and not afraid to show it? Marry me please! Over this trip, a lot of our teaching staff drink heavily and regret it the next day. I’m not a big drinker at the best of times, but when I’m expected to be in charge of young teenagers, I’m really after a clear head and a good night’s sleep – I’m so boring, I know. What drew me to my colleague? She also doesn’t really drink and opted for early nights too! I never encounter people like this! Like me!
The return coach journey was like my own special circle of hell. Truly. We’d share conversation and laughs and we’d trade life details (almost like a date). I was smiling and joking through it but I was dying inside as I knew this was a pointless prospect. When I napped, I was actually sleep-praying. I found myself entering and leaving sleep in conversation with God. And it was me pleading for answers best summed up as “please stop this torture.” What happened directly after that muddled prayer? We spent a chunk of time teamed up to solve crossword puzzles…!! Be still my beating heart. Naturally, this also allowed for compliments as she thought I was fast (hey, English teacher) and she got some good ones too. I utterly enjoyed myself only for sour reality to come creeping back.
The crowning moment though was the arrival back at school. We disembarked and a sea of parents picked up their children and many stopped to thank us profusely. Their comments went along the lines of “We know you have to leave your own families to go on the trip, thank you.” What was meant as sincere gratitude was a bayonet-thrust to the stomach. I have a family – and I care for them dearly – but they don’t inspire the same affection in me that I know a woman (and potentially family of my own) could.
Deep breath. What am I seeing now? Staff are all squirrelling away (it’s 11 at night). Every single member of staff is getting a lift from their partner with the expected “I’ve missed you” reunions etc. What am I doing? Calling a taxi number to enjoy my lonesome cab ride home. I was even introduced to my colleague’s husband.
So I’m now starting to experience people younger than me being (happily) married. That sucks. But I’ll get used to that feeling as it’s only going to increase. I’m, as ever, not in a good place with God though. I have prayed so hard and intensely these past few months. In my desperation at His will, my recurring plea has been to soothe this itch of mine. He can make me care less. I’ve tried doing it as me.
Whenever I distract myself or force myself to not think about this romantic nonsense, life grabs me by the neck and shoves me-nose first into something that ensures I think about it. I went on this trip to help my school and thought that it would occupy me mentally as the kids would need behaviour management etc. There was surprisingly little marshalling which gave ground for being pensive – always a bad thing these days. But the crush on my colleague?
That infuriates me. Read about dating, attraction and all this anywhere you like. A recurring theme is people from Internet weirdos through to doctors saying you cannot control attraction. They, of course, refer to random brain chemicals and the like. I refer to God. He graces us with that attraction. If it were simple, mutual and wholesome – then, hurrah. If it’s not, what is the point?? If any of you cynics say that’s a lot to ask – it’s apparently not – I swim in a veritable sea of genuinely loved-up couples. So it’s just something that I personally am denied.
One of my last points from this epic rant; my colleague also disproves the whole “you need to get out more” theory. She is arguably the most naive person I have ever met and has led a rather sheltered life (private school, commuted for uni etc.) and yet here she is married off. If ever there were an argument for the whole leave-it-in-God’s-hands advice, that’d be it. Not that that ever does me any good. I only seem to suffer; in different ways, via different people but suffer over and over again.
It struck me on a very lonesome but healing walk yesterday: this whole struggle of mine reminded me of Jesus’ walk through the wilderness. He beat the Devil’s temptations of earthly power. But if I’m being tempted, I’m being tempted with love… Is that not the cruellest of temptations? To use something potentially pure and wholesome and warp it. The real difference for me is the weighting of numbers. Friends and family have pointed out people who suffer intolerable agonies from cancer, have disabilities etc. The worst thing here, though is you’re traipsing through the wilderness whilst continually seeing others glide past you in a merrier state, because they’ve got someone next to them, helping them. You’re constantly shown that which you desire but are denied. A torture in its own form.
The big question now is: why does God want me to care so much about a relationship? He planted the “gene” if you like for wanting this. But He activated it fully earlier this year and now I’m like a bloodhound but I’ve lost the scent and can’t find anything.
Summer beckons – at the very least, it should give me time away from my colleague and time to dispel any feelings.