I was going to write something today about the campaign of hatred unleashed on Leslie Jones yesterday, about how she bravely tried to fight against it until she just couldn’t any longer, about how deeply I understand and feel her pain, but this piece says everything I was thinking much more eloquently than I ever could. #LoveForLeslieJ
I need a break. I’ve escaped to the backyard, lying across the little red bench tucked away in the corner. Dinner is continuing without me indoors. I hear the clink of silverware and glasses through the open windows. The clash of angry voices. My stomach starts to clench. My head swims. I won’t be able to sit upright. I wonder how long it will be before they realize I’m not in the bathroom. I’ll never understand a person that enjoys spewing bile and hatred, who favors confrontation over harmony. How do you tell someone that they don’t fit in your life anymore? That being around them literally makes you physically ill?
A few deep breaths later and I am finally able to stand. I hear my name being called inside. I rush around the side of the house to where my car is parked, thankful I thought to bring my purse with me. As my turn my car in the direction of home, I realize that I’ve found my answer.
Structure is not my strong suit. Since I was a kid, I’ve kind of run around like a chicken with her head cut off, flitting from one project to the next, getting easily overwhelmed, filled with frantic energy, rarely finishing what I start. I learned after I became an adult that there is a word for that frantic energy – anxiety. Getting diagnosed and learning through therapy how to live with anxiety has been invaluable.
We’re always taught to finish what we start – your room isn’t really clean until your closets are organized and every speck of dirt has been wiped away, do all of your homework, even if you’re up until the wee hours of the morning. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with any of those things, it’s just that my brain doesn’t work this way. I only know two speeds – 0 or 100. I look at a sink full of dirty dishes and think screw it, I’ll wash them tomorrow, or I get frantic and scrub all the dishes, clean out the cabinets, mop all the floors, clean all the bathrooms, do 10 loads of laundry, vacuum…well you get the picture…then I’m exhausted and do nothing for the next two weeks.
Now, I give myself a set amount of time to clean, or tackle any other project I don’t particularly enjoy. If the project isn’t done by the time the allotted time is over, it will be there tomorrow. Before diving into housework, I give myself time to transition from work mode to wife mode. Me time. It’s what keeps me sane. I take the dog for a long walk, or write. Sometimes I read or wander around Target, or just do some deep breathing. I allot time to be social, so I can make sure to maintain the friendships I value so much, and of course couple time for me and the hubby. I’m much happier and much more at peace, knowing that somehow I’m learning to manage my life. I can do it all, I just can’t do it all at once.
On another note, I hope to follow this same philosophy when I tackle NaNoWriMo next month. The regularity of my blogging with slow down, but I’ll still be here, hopefully updating you on my progress. I’d love to hear about your experiences if you’re participating as well.
I ate lunch today! I stepped away from my desk, went to a quiet place, ate a refreshing, healthy vegan salad, worked on my writing and didn’t think about work for 30 minutes! It was glorious! Why haven’t I been doing this everyday?!
My therapist has asked me to try and practice mindfulness as a way to reduce anxiety. It’s a way of focusing just on what you’re doing at that moment – eating, showering, relaxing, whatever – instead of letting your mind race and worry about the million other things you need to do. I was in need of a break a few minutes ago, but still couldn’t turn my mind off, so I decided to write down everything I was hearing and seeing to reduce my stress. It seemed to work. Here are my stream of consciousness ramblings:
I hear the sound of an insect, maybe a cricket, chirping in the distance. The sun is out. I hear the gentle rush of cars on the nearby road. The bright pink flowers on the bushes stir gently, bowing to their fallen petals. I am alone, but not alone. Quiet and waiting for the tightness in my chest to ease. I have to focus, and the pressure on my brain will release. Focus, focus. Let life go for a few minutes. All that exists are wind, flowers, crickets, and sun. I want to live.
A bird calls, as though it wants me to answer. There is no response. Maybe it wants a mate, or is searching for its lost flock. I’ll send up a prayer for it. One for the lost bird. One for me. Now I’m ready. Press play.