Juggling act

Between the move and everything else that is going on in my life, I feel like I am juggling about 10 million balls, trying desperately to keep them all up in the air at the same time.  And I suppose not just keep them up in the air but keep track of where each ball is at any point in time.

If this were actual juggling instead of metaphorical, I'd be screwed.  My coordination is essentially nil.

Despite the metaphorical nature of my juggling, it is nonetheless exhausting.  I want to blog many nights, but I'm either too tired to actually put my thoughts into coherent sentences or too tired even to form thoughts, period.  I think back to my college days, when I lived on four hours of sleep and turbo-charged black coffee.  I was miserable and depressed, but I can't help but get jealous at the old Carrie who got so much done.  And then I feel lazy in comparison.

Considering I was neither mentally healthy (the OCD rituals were much of what kept me awake when I wanted to drop) nor do I really miss being that 18, 19, 20-year-old Carrie, I don't know why I haul out that old yardstick.  But I do.

One of the many topics I've been working on in therapy, from the first time I ever saw a psychologist over 10 years ago now, is "being gentle with myself."  Basically, it means sleeping when I'm tired, eating when I'm hungry, and so on.  As much as I know that not pushing myself to write in the wee hours of the morning is a victory, I still feel insanely guilty when I do lay my head upon my pillow.  As if the Forces of Lazy have somehow won a massive victory.

The years of abuse from the anorexia combined with the inexorable forces of aging have played no small role. My body simply won't let me push it that hard.  It falls asleep standing up.  It finds a way to sneak in a nap.

I took a power nap for about 30 minutes this afternoon, and I know I should be popping the champagne or something, but it makes me feel squeamish and guilty.  Sort of like when I eat something and it's not actually meal or snacktime.  My body doesn't follow a clock exactly, blah blah blah.  Logically, I get it.  But emotionally?  It's a whole different story.

I think it comes down to one word: should.  I shouldn't be hungry, I shouldn't be tired.  I have these internal rules about "appropriate" times to eat and sleep.  Feeling hungry or tired at "inappropriate" times really messes with my head.  I do love traveling, but the experience is often jarring for the first day or two, largely because my body clock is often thrown out of whack.  I do well with schedules.  I can become way the hell too attached to these schedules, yes.  But I also need them, probably more than most people.  Free time scares the hell out of me because I have no idea what I should be doing.  I've gotten okay with "me" time--reading, watching TV, crocheting, farting around in the kitchen.  All of these are fine.  But a block of time that I don't know what to do with?  Total freak out.

So I'm blogging about how I'm so damn tired I can't seem to work up the energy to blog, and here I've written a novel.  Figures.

I'm also falling asleep at the computer, so I'm going to call it a night.


Cathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy (UK) said...

Sorry, I clicked the wrong button for my comment above.

Cathy (UK) said...

My brain has gone completely... I'll post my comment again!

Over the years I have HAD to learn to be 'gentle with myself'.. And yes, it feels as if I am 'breaking all the rules' (well; MY rules, because most people don't have such a powerful internal rule system...).

When I was in my teens and early 20s I had the energy of one of those big buzzy flies that never stops. By the time I reached my early 30s I had had to incorporate more-than-just-power-naps into each day. And by the time I reached 40 I was 'spent'. Being underweight and eating poorly didn't help, of course; but ageing plays a huge role. Why do most athletes retire from competitive sport in their late 20s or early 30s? The reason is that body hasn't the same capacity to recover from over-exertion.

Now, at 45 yrs of age, my capacity to buzz around manically has gone completely. I can be physically active for short periods of time, but it takes its toll later in the day. I'd love to have the energy of a 20-yr old; but I just haven't!

hm said...

Bottom line: You need to take care of you, or you won't be able to take care of anyone, or anything, else.

I GET the guilt piece. There are always things you can do, always people who need you, always a reason to do one more thing or give just a little more. The hard part is learning to see yourself as a priority as well- and like you said, if you refuse, your aging body will remind you!

I'm PROUD of you for going to sleep when you needed to, and for expressing your frustration with not being able to do it all. I'd rather read a blog post from "real Carrie" than from exhausted, pushing herself to the limit to take care of everyone else Carrie any day.

And, inadvertently, you have just given a HUGE TIP on how to reduce one's anxiety: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Stop carrying the world on your shoulders. Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired, express yourself when you are frustrated.

Teaching by example, Carrie. I tend to learn way more by watching someone DO something than by hearing them say it anyway. I am thinking through, right now, the reasons for my panic attacks as of late and considering if any of them are due to the fact that I am ignoring my own needs as I run frantically around trying to meet everyone else's.

Good choice- and thank you.

hm said...

Mmmm- wanting to emphasize:

You have so much value for WHO YOU ARE, not just for what you do. :)

Katie said...

I had to learn to take the pressure off myself a while ago. My body is a bit argumentative, if I push myself too hard my immune system decides to stop working and I end up coming down with every virus and infection going until I'm stuck at home feeling horribly dizzy and sick. It helps me to think that if I take a more moderate approach I can keep going for longer and put much more effect into everything, rather than pushing myself too hard, burning myself out and then being incapacitated for weeks while I recover.

I get freaked out if I don't have any idea of what to do with a block of time either. Probably why I spend so much time faffing about online!

Anonymous said...

This post resonates with me - I have a million internal rules telling me what I should and shouldnt do, what is right and what is wrong, etc. When really, I should be doing what my body wants, whether its sleeping, eating, or just being kind to myself. Well Done for being a rebel Carrie!

Libby said...

I betcha that in therapist school they have to take a class called "Dealing With Shoulds 101"... such a huge issue that so many of us deal with, I believe!

Angela said...

I too get envious of the old me who could get so much accomplished. You are right...I was sick and depressed, but I needed to keep up the facade of perfection. I was such a clean freak, and now I feel like I'm going in the wrong direction. The "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" get in my way. A lot! It is so great that you are challenging that belief. Way to go:)

Anonymous said...

even if you drop every single ball in an effort to better care for yourself, they will be there. making mistakes, failing at one thing or another is a powerful way to show the world the incredible beauty in grace. when we can find ways to show ourselves grace we show that to those we care for and even those who are looking to us as example. that is a living gift and it is remarkable.

thinking of you.

Abby said...

This is timely, as today I'm dealing with "doing nothing and liking it." No exercise, no compensation in other areas, no real plans. I am simply telling myself that just for today, I can do it, I can drop a few of the balls I am juggling. Then tomorrow, I can tell myself, "Just for today." (In theory.)

I think the hard part of me is that I can't listen to my body all the time and have to try and listen to the rational part of my brain instead. Yes, I feel exhausted at times and love sleep, but I still have messed up hunger cues and rarely feel "hungry." I have to eat according to the clock, not exercise when my body feels antsy, etc.

I guess it's a mix of listing to when my body is sending me signs and weeding out the disordered thoughts that tell me to challenge what I know is healthy for me. There is no lazy with recovery, unless of course, you fail to try.

Great post ;)

My Black Fog said...

Hi, Just found your blog and enjoy it. I'll be back to read more.

Faith Ellens said...

I agree with you. It's almost always usually at times when we feel like we're ultimately stressed and pressured that we get to do the best things. I'm speaking for myself. Great post.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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