Hit a brick wall today emotionally. Came out of nowhere. (I guess that’s a weird thing to say about walls? They are quite stealthy but it seems odd to ascribe to them any ambush skills that require, you know, mobility.) A huge part of me wants to wait this out before writing, but another part of me wants to get this post written while I’m in this funk. I want the clarity of introspection in the moment rather than looking back on it with rose-tinted hindsight. Apologies in advance if this post doesn’t make sense.
It’s been a grueling week at work. Lots of problems with no clear solutions. To be clear, I love this; I’m a dragon slayer by nature. I’d much rather have a dark cave full of interesting and dangerous problems than to have to shovel muck out from under the pens where all the tame problems are kept. But it can get exhausting to tangle with a problem for days without being able to come up with a clear understanding of what’s wrong, which you need before you can start to fix it. I don’t mind tangling with a problem where I don’t know the answers, but when I don’t even know the questions, it gets tiring.
Today also presented some emotional extremes. They should have been within my capacity to handle as they were other people’s problems. Easy to keep at arm’s length. But I have a lot of empathy for others and arm’s length can be dangerously close if you wear your heart on your sleeve.
First, my best friend at work has been distressed; his dad was taken to hospital 3 days ago. Dizziness, suddenly illness, spells of blurred vision. Everything points to a stroke or a brain tumor, but every new test they run rules them out. So three days in and the doctors are worried enough to keep him in the hospital but they still don’t know what’s wrong with him. My friend has dealt with this by maintaining belligerently good spirits, and I’ve been only too glad to help. We’ve laughed over the stupidest things until tears have streamed. Today he finally got the call, “yes it’s a stroke”, and he all but collapsed. But an hour later he got another call: “No, wait, not a stroke”. This was soon followed by “Well, you might as well go home, we have no idea what’s wrong. Sorry!” So he still feels helpless, but now some entirely appropriate anger is creeping in. Watching my friend get yanked around, and feeling empathy for him, left me in a mood of heightened tenderness and compassion.
…which was maybe not the best headspace to be in, because I then got dropped right into the middle of a firefight with a couple of coworkers whose help I needed to understand my dragon problem, but they wanted to enjoy raking me over the coals first. Coming off of such heightened compassion to being dropped into the ring to spar with two less-than-helpful teammates meant they trampled me for the first couple of rounds and every blow registered with the heightened sensitivity I was feeling. It took me a couple of rounds to get my defense up and start deflecting their jabs, and a couple more before I was ready to counter.
(I should note here that I didn’t lose my cool; in fact I actually got both of them on the same page as me and cooperating. This is NOT something I’d have been able to pull off five years ago. Or perhaps even two. Tired as I was, the Dom habits are paying off.)
Anyway, my point is today we played emotional crack-the-whip, and I was the tail, and I got flung off into the wall.
Beth came home from shopping and we had several errands that needed doing… but within 20 minutes of work being done I went from fully on to fully off. I felt like a puppet with the strings cut. I had Beth reschedule our appointments. I needed some emergency recharge time. That’s when I decided to haul out the laptop and get this written down, and that brings us up to now.
Again, sorry if this post isn’t relevant to you. I realize reading back that this is not my clearest writing. I feel like I’m grabbing one thought after another and jamming it in place like rocks in a muddy path, and the thoughts make sense but I have no idea if the path goes anyway. Hopefully somebody out there needs to hear this—I mean besides me in a week’s time—and if so then it’s worth sharing.
I know what I need to do. Low mood and depression are no strangers in this house. I need to chop wood and carry water, and just trudge on through the bleak and the gray and the emotional stress. It will get better. It always does. I know this. But that doesn’t stop me feeling like I’ve been chewed up and spit out. I’m not feeling sorry for myself; I’m just tired and I know I’ll be back in fine fettle once I’ve got my feet back under me. I’ll permit myself a tiny rest, and then I’ll apply the wisdom of Sarah Millican: “Don’t look for the light at the end of the tunnel; stomp along there, and turn the fucker on yourself.”
Cheers. If this resonates with anyone right now, hang in there. Grit your teeth, bow your head, and push your way straight through that wall.