Just before 7am this morning, I sat bolt upright in bed, took one look out the window, grabbed my camera and went outside. Sunshine streamed diagonally across the table on the deck, still low enough in the sky to be lighting the hail/snow crystals from slightly behind them. From my bedroom window, the table top sparkled as if some generous fairy had casually thrown handfuls of gemstones across its frozen surface like dice. I walked around it trying angles and directions. I think the only thing I didn’t try was shooting from underneath. Before I got too cold, my eyes wandered to the planter box where the new growth on the strawberry plants had been candied by last night’s moisture and freeze. I photographed knots in the boards with little round balls of ice lodged in their irregularities. Finally I walked down onto the grass, where the ice crystals were just beginning to melt. By 7:15 am, I was pretty sure there was something in the 35 frames I’d just shot that would be worthy of the blog.
I love awakening to sunny mornings. My heart leaps in my chest, and I jump out of bed. When the sky is blue, I rarely notice if I’ve slept poorly or not enough. Today, however, after the initial thrill had worn off, and I’d taken the dogs for a quick walk, the fatigue that I’ve been fighting hit me. It was 9:15 am. For at least the last four days, I’ve been entertaining the thought of letting my body tell me that its tired. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It may sound really strange to anyone reading this, but I’ve finally admitted that I have a problem with sleep, no, rest of any kind. I type these words slowly. Am I sure I want to write this here? Doing that puts it out there in “real time”. I am putting myself on record.
A couple of weeks ago, my daughter called me and told me about a new friend of hers who admitted to her that he was “addicted to being exhausted”. I thought that was a kind of funny at the time. And I wasn’t surprised because Charlotte is too. But what really alarmed me today was that I’ve been legitimately trying to rest more. I’ve even been doing an “intentional resting” exercise. What I realized was that it is like an addiction. I know, that sounds really silly, but I am having a really hard time changing the pattern of behavior even though its hurting me. I think that qualifies as an addiction. I called Charlotte this afternoon and told her what I was thinking. She already understood. She already knew that its a really hard pattern to break, and admitted that she lies to herself all the time about how much she can do.
The other day, after Gillian had an teary melt down upon realizing that she had not allowed enough time to come close to finishing her homework, I made a firm decision that I had to do something. Charlotte had physically gone to pieces just a week prior, early the morning after the conference championship swim meet, after competing for three days. She called me from the steps of the health center where she goes to college. She was camped there waiting for them to open. This was at least the third time this year she’s called me very sick. For her, this has always been a pattern, but both of my girls falling apart within a week of each other for the same reason was a big red flag. I finally really got it that it was up to me. Neither of them is going to be able to change this behavior unless I do it first. And its dangerous. As I said to Charlotte when she fell asleep driving home from a swim meet at 5pm on a Friday afternoon in high school, “its no different than if you were drinking and driving…”.
And so today, I am once again tired. I said something to a friend yesterday about the “intentional resting” exercise and how so far, the only thing I’ve noticed is that I’m more tired. This is a battle he has already fought. He looked at me with a gentle, but knowing smile and said quietly, “Its only going to get worse for a while”. He told me that I was just starting to feel the depths of my fatigue and that as I allowed it, I would feel it more. This is not good news. This is not what I wanted to hear. It has big ramifications. I have big plans and I’m not finding the energy now to do them all… What is going to happen if I have less energy? Will I have to shelve them all? That’s a scary idea. It makes me confront head on the being vs. doing questions. If I’m not doing, who will I be? If my “plans” don’t work out because I don’t have what it takes to make them happen, even if I have great ideas, what then?
So, its now 9:30 pm instead of 11:59, which is when I usually wind up writing my blog. My eyes really are burning. Its not my imagination. I really do have a headache and I can’t make it go away. I still have about 50 unopened emails in my inbox. Dinner is finished and I asked my family for help in finishing up the kitchen instead of hoping they would do so while I was busy elsewhere. I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for now, but keep an eye on unnecessary “doing” for the duration of the evening. No more lying to myself that I only need 6 hours of sleep so I can do one more project. The only way I’m going to win this battle is by paying attention.