I have the best neighbor.
For a couple years now, when she’s out mowing her lawn, about half the time she mows my front lawn too. She knows I’m half crazy (well, she knows about half of my crazy, more like) – working a ton, raising a kid, doing all manner of nutty projects – and I appreciate her more than I can say. I show her by pulling her weeds occasionally and giving her plants 🙂
Lately I’ve been exceptionally good at growing weeds, and my front yard is a constant battle. Today they’re about to go to seed, too. Add more pressure and some guilt about spreading those horrible plants throughout the neighborhood (yes, cat’s ear is terrible – it intentionally kills the grass around it because it’s a greedy jerk).
So today I’m in this major funk. All week I just RUN to get everything done (working 4 ten hour shifts with a kiddo morning and evening), and today I plan in time to slow down and surprise! Everything I’ve been running from all week catches me.
Enter massive avoidance.
I did some things to move me forward on creative projects, but mostly I hung out with my kiddo today. I also let him play computer games while I took a nap. Took him to a park, played some monopoly, took him to his swim lesson, went grocery shopping.
And all day I just wanted to climb back in bed and ignore the world. Or find some kind of chemical way to avoid my brain. Found myself craving connection with others, alcohol, sugar, anything that would distract me from the overwhelming amount on my plate and the heavy grief on my back.
So I focus on my kid, then he goes to dad’s house.
What in all hell am I supposed to do with myself now?
This is THE THING I assign to everyone who comes through my coaching practice. This is what I tell my friends I always do when I’m stuck. I know I’m at my happiest and most productive when I journal daily, and I know that hard tangles of things get unwound when you let them spill onto a page.
So I’m sitting there, and I write all of the above. All of the ‘I wants’ and ‘I feels’ and ‘I hates.’
“I want to run away from all of this.”
“I am completely overwhelmed.”
“I feel half helpless and I don’t want to embrace one bit of the addictive behavior that runs in my family.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
And then I identify the thing I’m feeling – a weird ball of energy that’s just uncomfortable enough to get me to react to it mostly-subconsciously, not loud enough to draw my full attention. But the journal does. It recognizes the emotional ‘itch’ inside my chest, this weird thing that wants to get out à la Alien, all clawsome and tentacular and juicy. This thing that isn’t letting me sit still, but also wants me to crawl into a cave and nest there until something like Spring wakes me up. The thing telling me to run away. The thing that wants to be numbed.
I found it.
And this is apparently how I’m avoiding alcoholism, which runs in my family. With a pen and paper.
So, because writing things down can help to cement meaning in our brains, I write several sentences about what I do when I feel this way. “Drink tea and journal.” Main lines of defense (and if you don’t know about Tension Tamer tea, GET SOME).
And then what did I do?
Mow the front lawn. And my lovely neighbor’s, too.
Energy needs out? Okay, improve your situation, Veronica. And show gratitude to someone else, too. The same thing that got me through a day working with a busted ass can get me some relief now. I’ve heard it said that fear can’t survive in a heart filled with gratitude, and I believe it to be true.
So today I found victory – in the decision to write a page instead of giving up. Or maybe I wrote a page because I had given up – I’d given up the bit of my ego that told me I could just keep going.
Victory is a decision, and the definition is your choice.