Showing posts with label stress. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stress. Show all posts

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stressful Upheaval

So it is true. We are moving back to the United States. I won't miss winter. List complete. It's funny, because when we first moved here I experienced incredible culture shock. I thought I'd never get used to any of it. It felt so suburban and almost every trip took me on some kind of freeway. Now that I've been here for more than three years, what once felt strange now feels comfortable. I actually like it. I really hate winter, which sounds insignificant until it's clear that winter lasts about 8 months. That's quite a large chunk of time.

Anyway, the point of my post is that I'm freaking out. I have a long list of things that I need to do prior to the move and my nerves have been completely unsettled for the past week or so. I'm not sleeping well - my mind refuses to shut down and makes endless lists of tasks I'll need to complete. I fight the feeling that I'm running out of time. I feel like there isn't enough. This building exhaustion makes everything that much harder to deal with.

When we moved to Canada I drank. I felt the tied up stomach all day, but at night I drank to oblivion for a rest from the stress. This was probably helpful for two days. The rest of the time it meant that I was hungover and stressed out. Not an ideal combination. This time I don't feel the urge to drink. I do worry if it's the right thing to do. It seems like each time I settle on a "yes," I start coming up with other obstacles, other worries. I'm working on turning it over, on recognizing that I can only do so much...I can only control so much. I'm trying to remember that change really does equal growth if we're open to it, and that nets truly do appear.

But it feels so very hard.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Learning to Dig Deep

One of the biggest issues I've always had is to keep going until the tank far past empty. When I feel overwhelmed I tend to keep pushing forward. I do ask for help... sometimes. When I do, my underlying beliefs are usually reinforced - no one comes to the rescue. So, instead of stopping for a moment to consider the best way forward, I forge onward, somehow believing I'll find the strength to keep going. That rest will come in time.

Now, I don't want to imply that no one ever helps me. It isn't true. However, it does seem that when I really do need help, I find myself in a situation where the people who could help me, won't. Or can't. I've been told that it's the way I ask for help: quietly, too late. I don't think this is true. In fact, I think the issue is that I find myself accepting situations that are unsupportive and then when I do need help it isn't there. This happens far less in my personal life than it does in my professional life. Organizations can be just as dysfunctional as families are.

So I keep pushing. For the past month, I've been so busy that nearly everything else has fallen by the wayside. I'm not writing, not knitting, not journaling. I am still running, but that is simply because I can't think of any other way to scrape away layers of self-doubt and fear. Running reminds me that I can dig deep and keep going. The simple fact is that no one is going to be able to take some of the load I'm carrying. This is largely because they're casting their eyes about for someone to assist them. I don't think deep problems are solved during crisis. The groundwork must be laid during a peaceful time.

This isn't making sense, but what I think I need to do (once I get through this particular period of urgency and over-work) is lay the groundwork for next time. I also need to remember that things are much better than they could be: I could be drinking, for example. I was thinking that just this morning - thank god I don't have a hangover. How on earth did I ever get to work? This was prompted by a small headache... So, yes: things really are much better than they could be. The end is in sight. Only three weeks until Christmas break.

I hope I make it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lessons Learned

I have finally made a decision. Initially, I was thinking that it really doesn't matter, for the purposes of this post, what that decision was, but then I realized there is much to be said about the why, because I am certain I am not alone in my struggle to let go of this sense that I must be perfect, or at least put on a good show of striving for it.

Five years ago, or even two, I would have thoughtlessly taken on this new opportunity. I say thoughtless, because the urgent need to advance underlied so many of my daily decisions. New opportunities were shiny with possibilities of advancement, high pay, and recognition. That endless climb to the top was all that mattered. Getting there would prove to everyone how valuable I am.

To stay where I was would have been unthinkable - I would have believed that I already knew how everything was going to turn out. Staying where I was wouldn't have sounded good, because I would have thought that any chance of that power and prestige had already passed me by, else, I would already have it, right? So, I would have gone onto something new and the costs would have been unthinkingly absorbed until I felt something deep within myself shatter.

Last week, I almost did the opposite: I second-guessed and became embroiled in trying to determine the "correct" answer, the outcome. The siren call of prestige has a strong pull, even now that I am more aware of the costs. Those old feelings of not being good enough still push at me. I finally realized that there isn't a "right" decision to be divined, that the net is there regardless. Things are as they should be and my HP will take care of me. Making the decision only (ha!) required deep honesty as to where I am at now - not where I wish I was or where I want to be six months from now.

Ultimately, I said no, because my recovery must come first. I will have seven months of sobriety soon and it's really too soon to make a big change. I want less stress in my life, not more. As things stand now, most days are pretty good. Some days are simply awful. Not as bad as they used to be, but still riddled with stress and anxiety. I need to remember that three short months ago I was on stress leave, my life in shambles, and my anxiety through the roof. I've made a lot of progress since then, but I am still in a somewhat fragile place. I have to believe (and nearly do) that when I'm ready, another opportunity will come along. It will be one I am ready for, one that doesn't include painful trade-offs.

This post feels a bit jumbled together. I am out of practice with writing. It has taken a back burner over the past few weeks and I do miss it. With any luck a few more days of practice will iron out the kinks and the words will flow.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Like a Frog in a Pot

Until recently, I thought the fate of the frog in the pot was known to everyone, but discovered a friend who had no idea what I was talking about. The fact (or is it simply a theorization???) is that if you dump a frog into a boiling pot of water, it will jump right out. However, if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and slowly boil it, the frog will simply sit there until it is cooked through. I'm told that this is because frogs are without self-awareness.

I am this frog. The more time goes by in sobriety, the more I am aware that the slow boil prevented me from an awareness of how bad things were. While I was aware that I'd given up some things, like knitting, or going out in the evening, or friends who didn't drink, the sheer emptiness in my life went largely unnoticed. I shared a house with my husband and children, but I wasn't really there. Simple peace and contentment was completely absent and I didn't even know it was gone.

The sad truth of alcholism is that I really didn't think I was hurting anyone but myself. I didn't worry about my children's safety when I was drinking. This simple fact truly alarms me now - anything could have happened to them or us while I was passed out. At the time I theorized that because I largely drank after they went to bed everyone was safe. My lack of engagement with friends and acquaintences who might have become friends meant that I wasn't ever there for anyone. It troubles me to think about the fact that they may have gone through terrible times without any support from me. But the biggest thing I've been facing lately, is that I really had no idea how stressful my life was, how I'd pretzled myself into an existence that was always stressful and always untenable. I don't know if I created the stress to justify my drinking, or if the drinking and avoidance created the stress, but I feel so much more sensitive to it now.

What was "acceptable" to me six months ago, is simply just patently unacceptable now. Partly, I think I'm developing some healthy boundaries. But the bigger picture is that now that I'm present (or at least using strategies of avoidance that don't cut off the cerebral cortex) I know when things aren't right. I feel that stress in the moment and I know that it means I have to deal with something.

I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, I feel like I have post-tramatic stress disorder. One the other hand, I feel like this is how normal people feel about stressors in their lives. It's probably a combination of both. My life had gotten so out of control (at least beneath the surface) that it makes sense to struggle with the after-effects of a lifetime of avoidance. Also, a lack of mind-altering chemicals means that life is right there in your face.

One question remains - if you put a drunk frog in a pot of boiling water, does it just lay there at that bottom, heat unnoticed? Don't worry, I'm pretty squeamish, so won't try out the experiment.
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