I have a headache. My neck is sore and my shoulders are aching. My blood pressure is up again. I think my teeth hurt too.
I wonder why? Do you think it might be stress?
Yeah, maybe. We are living in weird times. Stress, on some inherent level, invades our lives on a daily basis. Every time I put on a mask I’m sure my BP blips. Every time my throat tickles or the staircase takes more than its usual toll I am absolutely certain I HAVE IT. We watch the numbers skyrocket as this second wave takes hold and there goes my BP again. And then there’s that damn election south of the border …
But there is more. There is much more stress on a personal level and I am learning (the hard way) that it is UP TO ME to manage that stress. It is UP TO ME to prioritize that stress. It is UP TO ME to take my meds but also sort out a more “holistic” approach to my headache and my blood pressure.
This past spring I published a book. My book. Probably the one and only book I will ever write. I published it during a pandemic when Black Lives Matters was dominating the press and the publishing world. Then I sold yet another house. After which I moved into yet another house in yet another community. Our new house had (serious) water issues and internet issues and oh yeah, our mover actually left some stuff behind and my dog had non-stop diarrhea all of these issues were stressful.
But the real issues was this:
I am a fixer. I have always been a fixer and I do pride myself on being quite good at it. I have a logical brain and it runs really fast. So if YOU have a dilemma I will think and think and think some more until I find a way to fix it. I will lose sleep and take Tylenol and drink too much wine UNTIL I figure out a way to fix your problem. And if I can’t figure out how to actually fix your problem (because let’s face it, some problems are unfixable) I will allow you to talk ad infinitum about your problem and I will allow you to drag me into your endless dialogue about your problem and I will listen to every word you share about your problem until eventually your problem will feel like my problem and oh fuck … there go those numbers again.
Apparently I’m not very good at saying “no” to a pal with a problem.
But I have decided it is time I learned. It is time I put my own health first. It is time I started to say “No, this is not a good time” or “No, I can’t have this conversation right now” or “No, you can’t come visit” or “No, you’re going to have to sort this one out on your own.” I once read that “NO is a full sentence”. We shouldn’t have to always explain our decisions. We hope that our friends and even family members will understand (and forgive) when we simply cannot serve. Or when serving our self becomes necessary.
It’s a tough one. If my son needs me I will lie down in front of a train if it will help. If my beloved is struggling it’s unlikely I’ll say, “Oh well, you sort it out.” And if a close friend reaches out … damnit I’ll probably still answer the phone.
Is it a guilt thing? Do I feel guilty if I do not show up on demand? Do I actually feel it is my God-given responsibility to ALWAYS be available (even when my doctor might counsel otherwise)?
I don’t know.
And quite frankly I don’t know how I’m going to resolve this conundrum. What I do know is that I am going to start by recognizing that it exists. By acknowledging that it is hurting my health. By realizing that if I don’t get that oxygen I so desperately need, I won’t have any oxygen to share.
This new mindset is also going to have to spill over into all aspects of my daily life. ALL ASPECTS.
So … I am going to have to take a Twitter-vacation. A morning-news wrap-up holiday. A social media break from politics. I will read Heather Cox Richardson every morning because she is a true voice of clarity and reason in a completely unreasonable time. But that’s it. I’m pretty sure I can’t solve the political shit-show that happens daily in the United States. I can’t even vote even though I am still an American citizen (by birth … you have to live there for two years in a row to vote and I never have). I cannot will the American populace to grow a fucking brain and vote out that imbecile AND all of his blood-curdling cronies. My constant attention to what is happening down south will in no way impact what actually happens down south on election day or any day thereafter.
So I must let it go. I must live to fight another day. I must live to fight battles I might actually impact. I must stop trying to fix everything and spend a little more time fixing me.
I may learn to say “no” a little more often.
I may not.
“Physician, heal thyself!” comes to mind. And I am no doctor.
I’m pretty sure the world will keep on turning without my constant involvement. OUR constant involvement. I think we can all learn to let go of this overwhelming need to fix stuff. All stuff. Other people’s stuff. It’s okay if we just stand back and breathe. Nurture ourselves. Even if just for a moment.
I have no idea how this will go for me tomorrow. But if I don’t answer your phone call or immediately respond to your text … I hope you’ll understand why.