I have been doing well. Better than I have in nearly a decade. Externally.
I have been doing better internally, but it certainly does not match my actions and productivity. It is coming with a physical cost. I have learned to ignore my brain when it says I can’t, or when it says to hide. I’ve pushed myself to work more hours every week than I have done in many years rather than calling off or working half days. I’ve pushed myself to attend many social events-some that are stressful, boring, annoying, time-consuming. I’ve pushed myself to try new things – put myself out there in the art world with huge risk of failure. I have not failed. I did not win everything, but I’m thrilled with the ones did. I won the bid for the biggest art commission I’ve ever tried to win. A huge project that will take about 6 weeks to complete. It is an outdoor project, so I need to work around weather as well as my own regular work schedule and my busy family life. I nearly passed out – literally – when I got the phone call. I wanted to win it, but fear attacked me and filled me with doubt, and I started internally telling myself I can’t do it and should quit before I start. Hubby is going to help, but I’m worried about that too since we have not been communicating well and I can’t paint while we fight.
I recognize this place I am in. When I was in high school and college, I used my talents to get me from one event to the next with such perfection that I burned out completely. I recognize the headaches, stomachaches, crazy nightmarish dreams, extra body aches, OCD mental loops, and general feeling of being spent. I recognize the skin issues and cold sores that plague me when I’m spent. I haven’t had cold sores in years, and now 3 outbreaks in the past few months. Huge, ugly, painful and embarrassing. One flared up 2 days after the big phone call telling me I got the art job.
I’ve gotten so good at ignoring the depression, forcing my body to keep going, that I have been ignoring my body too. I’ve been working past the pain and fatigue, and compensating by mindlessly over eating and over drinking. I’ve gained nearly 10 pounds without noticing.
The things I’m doing may not be too much for someone else, and it felt good to approach normal or feel normal and busy. But I need to be careful and reduce something before I reach overload. (get ready for some extreme bitching and whining ahead)
And then, to top it all off, huge amounts of guilt from resentment I sense from Hubby. He wants to go to a huge camping event with 2 other families. I hate camping. I hate bugs. I hate bug bites. I hate feeling dirty, wet and sticky. I hate swimming in the lake – I imagine all the ecoli clinging to me. I hate outhouses. I hate fishing – I feel sorry for the poor fish we hook and sick for the fish that we actually leave hooks in and toss back. I hate that my allergies go crazy and I have to stuff my pockets with kleenex and my eyes burn. I hate the suffocating feel of the tent walls around me. I hate that I get all wet if I touch a tent wall and have nothing dry to change into because my backpack was touching the tent wall. I hate boating – I get motion sick easily. I hate the night sounds of animals around the tent, bugs buzzing, bats squealing. I hate not sleeping at all and waking up with a painful back and limping leg. I hate waiting on the other families to decide who is going for a walk, what to have for dinner, and all the other complicated social stuff that comes from camping together.
More than all that though – I hate letting Hubby down. He had some vision of family camping when he married me, and I feel like I tricked him. I didn’t tell him all those things I hated back then and went along with it because I knew it was important to him. We even went camping on our honeymoon because I was trying so hard to please him. But that was just us, no kids yet, no other families, completely different.
So I am not going on this camping trip next week. I’m planning to stay home alone and get myself feeling better and balanced. We just had our family vacation a few weeks ago, it went well, but it was difficult to be tuned into kids 24/7 like that. Hubby admitted he is disappointed and even a little resentful that I’m going camping. I’m glad he admitted it, but I’m not sure what to do with it now. I understand, it is a lot to ask him to be in charge of the kids alone and I think he feels hurt that I don’t want to be with them. I understand he has amazing childhood memories of camping with his family, and I am so happy that my kids will have those too. I don’t think it matters that I won’t be in those memories – I’ll be in so many others. I will help them pack and send them away with hugs and kisses. Hubby will have to understand, hopefully, eventually. And I need him to understand that this is me – this is not just for this trip. I don’t ever want to go. I think that is what’s hurting him the most. He sees me doing well and it doesn’t make sense to him. If I was visibly sick, it might.
I tried explaining my fears and feelings last night to him, and his response was “Are you really back there again?” He sounded so sad and disappointed and I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide my shameful existence. He’s been pretending I was normal right along with me. Encouraging me to do more and more, and so I do, so ready to please him. Old habits die hard. I want to be what he wants, but I also know I have to be true to myself, and gentle to myself. I struggle with which obligation is stronger in any moment.
I don’t exactly know why I dislike events that others find fun and even relaxing. I don’t know why I continually return to a point of overachieving to find my worth. But that is my reality, and I won’t hide from it any more, and I’m trying to not feel guilty about it too.