Under Pressure


It’s an astoundingly gorgeous day today. I wish I could have appreciated it sooner. I’m fortunate that my desk is beside a window so I can see the glory of the day outside.

But I did not want to wake up.

My bed comforter is a little too warm. Even though I sleep with minimal pajamas as a result (interpret as you will), I always wake up covered in sweat, my scalp damp.

And yet, I did not want to wake up.

I felt overwhelmed by the gravity of sleep more so than usual, as I have fought it my whole life. I had to get my son to school though, and myself to work, so I rose and readied myself and him for our Wednesday.

“Is it Ballet day?” he asked, as he does every Wednesday. He is not enrolled in his school’s ballet class, but he’s hyper aware of the schedule so he always asks, confirming the day.

“Yep, buddy, it sure is.”

“And tomorrow is Thursday, Spanish [class] day?”

“Yes. You’re right, tomorrow is Thursday, Spanish day.”

As all small children need and like, the boy loves predictability and organization. He also is currently fascinated by calendars, maps and globes, and counting the months of the years or letters of the alphabet by 2s. “Mommy, is it, February, April, June, August, October, December?” Seriously, what 3 year old thinks like this?

My childhood schedule was predictable. Aside from whenever dance class day happened to be, and sporadic trips to visit aunts and uncles and cousins in the area, my life was: school during the week, dinner around the same time, homework, chores on Saturday mornings after cartoons, along with some playtime, and church on Sundays.

Now we decide last minute that we’re going to Helen for the weekend, or we make advance plans to go to Helen for the weekend, but the departure varies. It means sometimes we take our son out of preschool on Fridays. It also means he knows two places as home, two bedrooms as his, two sets of toys, two sets of what routine is. It’s like he lives in a divorced household, only his family is in tact.

I’ve often worried what impact this is going to have on him long term. The pediatrician didn’t seem concerned when I asked her. I think I am the only one bothered by it, and extend my concern to his well being. I know my sister and her family will take long weekend trips to weddings, etc., and another family I know seems to always be going somewhere on school breaks and weekends.

Between work, weekends back and forth, and my illness, as I described before, I get so tired. So easily. There’s so much pressure to keep going going going all the time.

But, I know I need stability in schedule to heal. I need routine in order to heal. I need a schedule.

But it bores me, I think. I get restless. Did I have TOO much stability growing up? What am I rebelling against? Other needs controlling my life? What is this pressure? Am I manufacturing it? I recently took a career test that says I like change for the sake of change. Weird. I never would have guessed that I’d show that through a test.

The introvert side of me LOVES when my calendar is free of meetings. The extrovert side of the house is thrilled when I have a lot of meetings. But, I get really tired prepping for meetings. Under pressure. I am often so happy when a meeting ends and I am free. Pressure released.

My running schedule is sporadic, based on when I can go. I had to stop my run yesterday because my hip hurt. My time was suffering as I gingerly traipsed unevenly along. After 30 minutes I stopped, afraid that I’d risk further injury if I kept going. So today is a rest day, even though I’d rather have run a lot yesterday and still be going running today. Because running relieves that pressure.

I keep craving solitude, too, more than usual. I feel so cranky when this need hits at night. It’s not like I live alone, after all. I think this need arises when I react to the pressure of the demands of the coming day. I shut down.

The grass is greener on the other side, y’all, and it calls to me daily. The clock is ticking and there’s so much I want to go do. I want to escape. But at the same time, I want (need?) stillness and tranquility. I guess this is the push and pull of the manic/depressive cycle? Under pressure.

Part of me wishes there were a Presbyterian version of a nunnery. I could elect to go into that kind of service and devote my time using my talents to helping others. It would be my job to go out and serve these ways, but also part of life to live in solitude on purpose. Someone else would set the schedule.

Or I could figure out a way to do that in my life so I could be generally happier.

The things I love to do most, however, don’t really align with a schedule. Artistic inspiration cannot be forced. I guess that’s where discipline comes in, so that when artistic inspiration hits, the underpinning support is there. That’s how running has been. The more I run, the better prepared I am for challenges like speeding up and running tougher terrain.

So, I guess all this is to say what I seek is balance. Every time I try to schedule and goal set, though, I tend to overdo it. I set myself up for exhaustion. My therapist has talked a ton about mindfulness, and I am glad I have a session planned for tomorrow so I can bring it up. I need new tools in order to do this.

I’m staying put this weekend. Not going to Helen. I need a break and we’re going to be there all of February with events for Fasching (Germany’s equivalent to Mardi Gras/Carnival Season). I’m trying to take a break from drinking, as I swear it’s a Pavlovian response to being up there. I am not supposed to drink on my meds, too. This is yet another area where I need discipline.

Part of attempting balance is to turn to the things I’m good at and enjoy, but in a non-exhausting way. My therapist has told me I need to ask for the things I need.

Here’s what I need, simply put:

To dance.

To sing.

To run.

To read.

To stretch.

To create artwork.

To help others.

To go to church, for the ritual and community.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to know your thoughts.


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