It’s come to my attention that I do *not* deal with stress well. Even when I think I’m handling everything just fine, my body tells me otherwise. For the past 4 years, running has been my stress reliever. I’ve pounded the pavement like it was littered with all of my problems and I could obliterate them with my running shoes. Once my run was done, I felt like I could handle just about anything. I was more relaxed throughout the day and slept well at night. Currently, though, my body is unable to run more than once a week. I’ve walked more miles in the past few weeks than I typically run, but it’s not the same. Walking is not as difficult, which in turn, makes it not as satisfying for me.
I used to eat away my problems, which created so many more. I’m happy to say that I don’t do that anymore, or very rarely. I would occasionally have a drink, especially on Friday night after a particularly exhausting week. Yet now my pancreas tells me that I can’t do that anymore either. I did a poll on Facebook to see what my friends do to relieve their stress. The answers ranged from healthy (exercise, meditation, talking to someone) to unhealthy (eating, drinking, smoking) to just plain fun (dancing, singing, fucking).
For the past few months, I think I’ve tried to deal with all of the crap in my life by reading excessively. Living in someone else’s world for an hour or two, seemed better than living in my own. Often the fictional world was not a fun place to be (war zone, poverty-stricken home, nuclear plant explosion), yet within those pages problems were solved and lives were changed. I could read other people’s thoughts and ideas about situations similar to my own. How did Alice handle her own Alzheimer’s Disease and what did her family do to help her in Lisa Genova’s book, Still Alice? (And what will we do when my mother’s dementia advances?) What did Allison do to help cope with work, home, and family in Jennifer Weiner’s All Fall Down? (I found out why Percocet is *not* the answer to my problems.) All of these dilemmas and their solutions may have taken years to happen, but I got to see it all pan out in a short amount of time. It’s a form of “instant” gratification that I need. If my own troubles cannot be resolved in a timely manner, then at least someone else’s can.
But perhaps because I’ve immersed myself so often in other people’s worlds, I’m not dealing well with my own.
I’ve lost much of my inspiration at work. I don’t care if my house is that clean. I’ve made little effort to see my friends. My body seems to be getting squishier, and I don’t even give a damn.
This isn’t me.
I love my work, yet lately I dread going. I *hate* this feeling. I used to feel this a lot at my old job, but not as a librarian. I love what I do and I’m good at it. So why not go to the place where I’m needed and feel like I make a difference?
And not cleaning my house? I used to have a cleaning calendar, people. Having a clean house makes me feel….I don’t know. Proud maybe? And accomplished, I think. But right now I just don’t care.
Typically I love to see my friends, particularly my Ladies in Red. But I’ve stopped trying to get together with them. I’m fortunate enough that one of them set a date with our kiddos, so I’ll be forced to go. (Thanks, Tiff.)
And my body? Whatever. It’ll never be what I want it to be, so why keep trying?
I have to stop this. I want to care again. I want to *want* to clean my house or lift weights or go to work. And my god, I really want to want to be with my friends. I think I’ve just tried to numb myself from the stress I’ve encountered over the past month–my family’s health, my son’s well-being, our finances–much of the same types of things you’ve all had problems with. If you can deal with all of it, why can’t I?
I *need* to stop feeling like I have the world on my shoulders, that it’s my responsibility to take care of everyone. Trust me. I suck as a caregiver. I do. I think I’m too selfish. I like to have time to myself, to read or run or walk or dance in my kitchen. I hate when my life is completely disrupted and that little bit of time I have is taken away.
Maybe the solution is extra Vitamin D or yoga or a counselor. I know I won’t stop reading. That bit of escapism is necessary for me. But I need to stop using literature to deaden my feelings. I need to use it to enlighten me or inspire me or to just bring me joy.
And maybe all I need is talk to you more. Why pay for a therapist, when I have you? :)