As I’m sitting here staring at the title and really not wanting to write anything at all – feeling uninspired, lazy, crummy, emotionally exhausted – I realize “shit, this is me right now.” So I’ll describe that, I guess.
My shoulders feel like someone unhinged my neck and poured cement into my spine – yet I don’t want to put in the effort to roll on tennis balls to loosen them up. My body is telling me it wants to go running, but my brain is telling me to crawl back into bed because getting up at 5:30 on a Sunday is a crazy people project. The intense crying jag last night is done but I’m emotionally hungover. Taking one step forward right now feels totally overwhelming.
So what’s necessary right now?
Doing the thing I said I would.
Last night I opened this window and popped the title in to remind me of the idea I had yesterday. I gave myself a pass on writing last night. Thoroughly reasonable, considering. But this morning I have no more free passes.
One way to think about this is by differentiating between your past, present, and future selves. I take care of past and future Veronica better than I do present Veronica, sometimes – but I also notice that when I’m conscious of the other two, present Veronica can muster the energy to do the thing.
So this morning I’m taking care of past Veronica. She asked me to take this work from her so she could grieve.
I made that deal, and I show up for her.
I also have to take care of future Veronica. That’s why I cleaned my kitchen while I was waiting for my coffee. That’s why I’m going to get a few miles in this morning before I dig into copy editing at my favorite cafe. That’s why I’m going to clear a space in my garage for a dedicated encaustic studio space.
This is a trick that Jordan Peterson lays out in 12 Rules for Life – take care of yourself as if you’re someone else. There have been studies showing that folks neglect their own care (to an incredible degree!), but when they’re given the responsibility for the care of another, they’re all over it. I’m probably remembering the stats incorrectly, but it was something like this: we’ve got about a 30% chance of compliance if we’re told to take a pill daily to stave off some life-threatening condition. If we’re supposed to give the pill to someone else to keep them healthy, though? Shoots up past 80% compliance.
I’d assume this is because that lovely socially useful emotion guilt pops its ugly/helpful head in to remind us of our ‘shoulds.’ When it’s our own care, we’re not guilty. Someone else, though? MAJOR problem. So we do the thing.
Insert past and future selves. Who is future Veronica? Well, I don’t know – I haven’t met her yet! That said, by default I care about her. I’d like her to have an easy time of it. Same for past Veronica, but I’ve met her. Lately I know for a fact that she needs some help. Who’s going to help her?
Your present self is the only help available.
So here we are. Taking care of past and future Veronica because one was too broken to do this last night, and the other is a wild card lately – but the one true thing about her is that she doesn’t need more tasks piling up.
Now I’m off to write that little post I set out to write 🙂