My body hurts.
I think at least in part, it’s the weight of holding things up for the past 10+ weeks, and so I share this because I know I’m not the only one.
It began as a lot of little things, and it was mostly online ordering, so I could trick my brain into thinking it was fun.
But there were no beans to be had. I requisitioned 4 rolls of bamboo toilet paper, but was told shipping might take longer than expected. It did. Almost 5 weeks. And now somehow that feels like eons ago.
Then came the Search for Alcohol Pads, but that was about more than alcohol pads. My husband got mysteriously sick, and doctors tried to treat it remotely, but for 6 weeks he was misdiagnosed.
His doctor finally pushed, and got him into a wonderful allergist, who said she was happy to see him:
“When I saw your chart, I said – if I can’t get to this, this kid is going to end up in some shi**y place like the ER.”
I instantly loved her – for calling my 46-year-old husband a kid, for calling me “Mrs. Shawn” as I used my husband’s phone video feature to show her the welts all over his body; but mostly for calling the ER the s-word.
Sometimes a well-placed swear word can really endear me to someone. What can I say?
Overperforming and underperforming
I was listening to Brene Brown’s podcast recently, and she talked about how in times of anxiety, people tend to underperform or overperform.
Oh, I thought.
That explained a lot, including my daughter’s hospital stay last year at this time. All day I would hold everything together, taking careful notes not just so I could compare what each doctor said and effectively manage her care, but also so I could be sure we sent each nurse a thank-you note.
And then at night, after she was asleep, in my little roll-away, I would sob unrelentingly until I could barely breathe, only to get up the next day and perform again – fluffing pillows, making lists, running home for quick showers.
Combining the information in that podcast episode with something my friend Kortney reminded me of this week, that you teach people how to treat you, was enough to send my system into temporary overdrive.
I hopped in the bath with more World War II fiction and wondered for a moment how long one can stay in a tub before it becomes really worrisome, or one sprouts a fishtail.
It’s just too hard to hold it up; hold it together. And so I’ve retreated.
I signed off of social media for a while, and told myself that the quiet would do me good. Then I started reading Deep Work by Cal Newport and wondered if I have been doing it wrong, this whole time.
This week I signed back on to Instagram and within a few minutes was so overwhelmed blocking bots and creepers that I deleted the app again and decided I was moving to a monastery.
I did that once. Just for a weekend.
She’s now one of the resources in what I’ve been calling my Mom’s Morning Basket – a market tote I’ve filled with books and a journal and pens and book darts, of course.
Every morning now I write two pages, and then dive into my basket for a while, preferably outside, but at least here, God or Mother Nature or Al Roker is trying to cleanse this virus away with rain.
Maybe it’s even working. Things are staying level, and the governor is talking about re-opening towards the end of the month.
Part of me can’t wait, and the other part of me (the part ruled by clinical anxiety and overperforming and a brain that thinks it can outthink everything if I just worry about it enough) feels too afraid to step outside my door for more than a short walk.
During the past 10 weeks, I’ve become a hoarder or pasta sauce and peanut butter. I’ve watched my kids become nocturnal; myself crepuscular.
I’ve thrown every tool I have at my anxiety and still, my shoulder, back and neck muscles feel like I’ve been lifting cars.
I’ve run away from social media and had a career existential crisis.
But can I share a weird secret? Part of me thinks that I’m getting closer to who I am meant to be.
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