There are limits

05May09

I’m a little late with this week’s blog post, and it’s because last week I was forced to admit that I am human, and that I can’t carry on with the insane hours and schedule that I’d been trying to maintain.

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I need to step back and take things a little easier on myself.

This all came about, I suppose, because I signed up for the newsletter over at Alex Fayle’s Someday Syndrome and received ’84 tips to avoid procrastination’. Now, I don’t know if Alex works some kind of weird voodoo, or if my subconscious is trying to tell me something (OK, I’ll admit the latter is more likely 😉 ), but all the random tips I’ve pulled out in the last week have had huge, meteor-like impacts on my life and forced me to step back and reassess what it is that I’m doing, and what’s important to me.

It’s difficult to step back when you’re on the edge.

There’s been a certain amount of emotional freefall, and it’s all been very draining, and I keep coming back to the realisation that my inability to communicate is at the root of a lot of my frustrations with life, relationships and myself, and that I need to do something to defuse all the pent-up anger building up inside me before it gets truly toxic. When I get into phases like this, I don’t help myself by retreating into the cave of my skull and isolating myself physically and emotionally from the world in general, and more particularly from everyone surrounding me. Effectively, I turn my glass wall into concrete and become just about as accessible as if I really was inside a bunker.

Which, of course, doesn’t help either me or anyone else.

Things all came to a head on Friday evening: my thought for the day had been “sometimes, no matter how hard you try to make something happen, your body/brain just won’t do it.” And on Friday night, my physical isolation and emotional shutdown – a kind of self-imposed internal exile – translated itself into a physical reality, an almost total shutdown – I crashed. I got Bellaboo to bed, went to my room to fetch a cardigan because I felt cold, sat down on the bed for a moment and woke up two hours later.

I have never felt so exhausted in my entire life. An exhaustion that went bone-deep, aching in every joint, with no energy, blacker and bleaker than the deepest depression hole I’ve ever fallen into, and that took everything I had out and left me with nothing.

It’s taken me four days of taking everything *very* easy to get back to any semblance of normality, and even now I’m living a very pared down existence, focussing only on the most important tasks and working literally day-to-day. I have to thank Goddess Leonie’s Zen Habits poster for that, certainly in terms of disconnecting from distractions and getting back to basics.

I’m gradually starting to bring things back online, but slowly and carefully, with very careful planning of each day, down to breaking it all into half-hourly chunks of tasks and rest and play and monitoring their effect on me. So far it’s going OK, but I’m having to resist the urge to push myself at every turn. Tonight was my first night back at writing, and I restricted myself to a single scene on Disconnection. It went well, but I stopped and cut off the desire to keep working at it. I’ll work the next scene tomorrow, and then 1 scene a night until it’s done, and I’m hoping I can sustain that pace, fingers crossed.

The period of recovery and reflection and readjustment of routine has highlighted a couple of important areas that I need to address:

  1. My inability to communicate, not just with general people, but with people in my key relationships, is not something I can ignore any more. It’s starting to have a major impact on my life, and though I’ve talked about it and acknowledged it a while ago (here), I haven’t done anything about it. Now I need to take action, so I’ve referred myself back for counselling because this is not something I can do on my own. (And recognising that is an enormous step forward, for me).
  2. I need to understand why I feel so driven, that I set myself these massive targets, and why I have such monstrous lists of writing and textile projects I want to do. What is the rush? Why do I need to charge through it all? What do I need to change so that the process and the learning in each task is something to be enjoyed and savoured rather than hurdles to be passed as quick as possible in a mad dash to – where? what? I know what’s important to me, I know where I want to go. It took me 10 years to build a career in the Finance profession. Should I be surprised that it takes any less time to do the same in other fields? Will taking my time over what I commit to do save me time in the longer run in terms of both lessons properly learnt AND less need for reworks? I think and hope so, but to make this change is a big shift of perspective and outlook for me, and not something I can make happen overnight. If I can understand what need is driving me, then perhaps I can change it. A slower life might be more satisfying, instead of always feeling under the cosh of time.

There are limits to what I can do, and I have to recognise that and adjust my plans and expectations accordingly, otherwise I fear that longer-term health issues will force me to make that adjustment whether I like it or not.

What happened on Friday was a warning.

I think I need to listen to it.

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One Response to “There are limits”

  1. I’ve been there, done that, and don’t want to do it again. I’m going in the opposite direction now, not accomplishing a damned thing and hating myself for being so unmotivated and lazy. I thought I could handle working for myself at home, but it’s obvious now that I can’t, and there are no other jobs to be had, so I’m stuck. I’m ready to run away and live in a cave.


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