Back in the 70s, on one of her first albums, Melissa Manchester sang a song called “This Lady’s Not Home Today.” Even then, when I was a mere babe, fresh and innocent, those lyrics resonated with me.
Got a house on the hill
And it’s constantly filled
With a number of passing acquaintances
But I’m tired and spent
From all the friendships well meant
And the rents getting high on my maintenance, Lord
In recent weeks I have found myself humming this very song over and over again, mostly under my breath. Not so much because of friendships well meant (although there have been a few of those) but more because I am feeling increasingly tired and spent.
Now I’m not a big fan of pity parties. I rarely throw them for myself and I sure as hell don’t like attending those thrown by others. We’ve all got shit, right? Figure it out and move forward. Don’t waste your life stalled in self-induced muck. Or even muck induced by others. Shovel that muck into a ditch or ditch the person mucking with you. I always thought it was fairly simple.
Until the muck really started to pile up on my head and I found myself drowning in it, even with shovel in hand madly scooping. I won’t bore you with the details of that shit-storm. Suffice to say it has been ongoing and suffocating.
But the worst part is it has sent my blood pressure skyrocketing. Yes I am already on meds and have been for quite some time – I was blessed with pregnancy induced hypertension when my son entered this world and it kinda stuck with me. I was also blessed with a genetic predisposition to big numbers. Both my mother and grandmother had high BP (and both lived long lives) but my father, with his LOW BP, made up for it with a decidedly Type A personality which he thoughtfully passed along to me (thanks Daddy).
So here I am, Type A with high BP and I sound like some fucked up alphabet soup about to boil over and splatter against the ceiling.
Actually, THAT is how my head feels. Like my brains are trying to escape through my ears and splatter … anywhere.
Okay damn, this IS sounding suspiciously like a pity party.
But here’s the point: the point is as much as I have been fighting the inevitable – “This lady’s not home today.”
I mean, she is, but she is unavailable for consultation.
Okay that is not true either. Today I have consulted with my son, my best friend, my partner, my sister, my neighbour and my dog. Apparently I am unable to simply turn off. Oh, how I wish I could.
Well I can’t be a fool
Though I’d like to come through
With a satin edged blanket for comfort
But, I got needs of my own
I’ve been too long left alone
Without somebody shoulder’n my hurt, Lord
I am now consulting with a glass of Pinot Grigio , new medication and a new conviction to let the world carry on without me, at least for a few days, while I decompress and hope these ridiculous numbers drop. No more charitable endeavours, no more long “helpful” chats. No more picking up all the pieces and no more making all the plans.
Time off for good behavior
Time off to be my savior
Stay in touch with your indecision
So I’ll have something to return to
After this brief intermission
I DO want to return after this brief intermission. I would very much like to return with my brains still residing inside my skull. And when I DO return I want to be available. As I’ve always been available. For consultation, for conversation, for consideration and of course … for wine.
But I am reminded now of the plane/child/oxygen thing. Take care of yourself first or you won’t be taking care of anyone. Period.
And that is why …
Right now I’m relighting my fuses
And tending to my bruises
Trying to find my direction, Lord
MY direction is towards better health. Less stress. No more headaches. More vitality. All things that will lead me back to my people. The people who need me. The people I need.
Self-care is so incredibly important. So why do we leave it to languish at the bottom of our to-do lists? Are we so full of our deluded sense of self-worth that we don’t believe the planet will spin without our constant involvement?
I am probably more guilty of that particular brand of hubris than most.
But no more. The world will turn. And yes of course I will return to that turning world.
But – for now – I’m hanging out the sign:
Say do not disturb me this lady’s not home