Afraid to Crash

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.


Ooh! Camping in a book store, that’s more like it! (Photo credit: avlxyz)

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.

10 thoughts on “Afraid to Crash

  1. I wrote this last week and your post reminded me of it.

    “I don’t expect you to empathize
    unless you’ve walked in my shoes
    But I do ask you to love and accept me
    because this is not something I’d ever choose.”

    The hardest thing in the world for me is to not be who “you” expect me to be. That is so insidious and subconscious, not unconscious, because I could never remember the events that created that Catch 22 for me.

    Love and support to you.
    I am here to tell you that ” you are doing f’ing awesome.”


  2. Ummm… I know a lot of people who don’t like camping. It isn’t a normal not normal kind of thing. Some people like it. Some don’t. I happen to hate it. I want my indoor plumbing. I want to be able to escape the bugs. I need a proper bed if I don’t want to wake up in pain. Funnily enough, I don’t like being in pain, especially if there’s an easy remedy. I know other couples who have learned to accept one likes camping and the other doesn’t, so camping is something they don’t do together. One of the couples has arranged to go with friends places where she can have a hotel room and meet with them during the day. You have the opportunity to make different choices. There’s nothing easy about it. You are capable and you are making so much progress.

    • Wow you really do? In my life it seems everyone is camping/fishing/hunting crazy and I’m completely abnormal for not liking those things. Thanks, some perspective really helps.

  3. I don’t like camping either…especially with other people. We used to when our kids were little but after one big rainy, wet, yucky experience the only times we had the tent up again was when the kids wanted to camp in our backyard with friends they had over. I think it’s ok that you have decided never to camp again. It’s something that your hubby and kids can do together.

    I, too, had to learn my limits and not try to please everyone. It’s tough. Very hard in fact. Especially when you really ARE doing better. It’s difficult for those we love not to think, everything is back to “normal”. I have to remember that life won’t ever be how it was. It was a “fake” life with lots of heartache that was hidden. I know when my body starts to break down that it’s time to take stock again and lay really low. To prioritize. To let other things go. If I’m not healthy, it affects everyone. Feeling guilty does not good. It’s counterproductive. Your hubby will get over it. Keep trying to communicate. He will eventually get to a point of acceptance. It took mine a few years. He learned to ask if I was doing ok when we were out and he knows when I say I’m fine that I’m really not telling always the truth. He is my radar and protector when we are out because he knows the fallout when I get too much stimulation. It takes me a few days to recover. I sometimes choose to do things that I know really aren’t good for me because of the consequences but it’s a choice I make because I don’t want to stop living and isolate. Lucky for me, our kids are grown and the grandkids go home (3, 1 1/2, and 2 mos) after awhile. We rarely go out with friends again and have decided it’s ok. I’m grateful my hubby likes peace and quiet as well. Our favorite moments are to sit around the campfire by ourselves in our backyard and talk. I can once in awhile allow myself to have an alcoholic beverage. I know my limits even though I sometimes don’t follow them.

    I also know how tiring it is to always have to be on guard. To always stick to a schedule. To have very little spontaneity any more. To analyze each f’n thing I think about and do. To make the choice each day to be healthy. I wish I didn’t have to think so hard about everything, but it helps me to stay quite stable and that makes everyone around me happy and stable as well. My family doesn’t have to walk around on egg shells waiting for the next emotional upheaval. I can feel it coming on and let hubby know (most of the time). If life gets too hectic we both know that it will be difficult. He tries to remember that my mood is not a reflection of him. It’s my stuff. He doesn’t get near as defensive as in the past.

    Remember, you ARE doing much better. You continue to learn your limits. It’s a trial and error process. Know you are doing your best each moment. Our best changes day to day and that’s OK. It doesn’t do any good to compare to what was or what could be. Accept right where you are right at the moment (easier said than done!)

    Know that I’m thinking of you and praying that you will get through this rough patch without too much difficulty.

    • This part is so true and I imagine what Hubby struggles with right now, “It’s difficult for those we love not to think, everything is back to “normal”. I have to remember that life won’t ever be how it was. It was a “fake” life with lots of heartache that was hidden. ”

      And I hope he will one day understand “If life gets too hectic we both know that it will be difficult. He tries to remember that my mood is not a reflection of him.” He is defensive and feels responsible for me way too much. Takes things personally and tries to fix things that either don’t need fixing, or that can’t be fixed.

      Yes I am doing so much better, and learning my limits, and being tough trying to enforce my known limits.

      All these comments really helped me reframe my thoughts though, as I was approaching it as there is something wrong with me and poor hubby has to deal with yet another issue of mine. I never considered that this could be a healthy preference and not a disorder. I feel so much better.

  4. You are not alone in your dislike, this is actually a fairly normal dislike. My comment whenever someone brings up camping, “Roughing it is a motel without room service.”

    There are many of us out here who despise dirt, wet, cold, bugs, tents, the lack of indoor plumbing and all the other things that go with camping. This would be especially true if it came with other families and their children. Just say no. Say it kindly and try to help him understand why, that it is about you and what you love. Not your love of him but your trying to love yourself. That you are trying to keep yourself whole, safe and in a loving place. Tell him you want him and your children to have these memories, you just don’t believe you need to put yourself into an unhappy space for them to have them.

    You are doing great. Try to help him understand, this is part of you doing great not part of you doing worse.

    • My emotions wear down quickly when my body is not comfortable. Instead of thinking this is a fault, I should embrace that and move on. I think I can get hubby to understand “trying to keep yourself whole, safe and in a loving place”. Not much to argue with there. Thanks!

  5. I hope that the fact that I have never even been camping gives you some comfort in knowing that many of us, do not like or wish to participate in this activity. The only person in my family that camped was my father (scout leader) and I was glad that I was not in boy scouts :). Now there are a lot of things that I do not like that really do annoy my husband…more common things like family reunions, weddings (I barely survived one this year – it was a mess for me), going out to clubs, etc. I just happen to like being at home doing what I do and I can completely relate to the annoyances that come from having the exact same conversation with people over and over again in the same sitting, hence my dislike for big family gatherings which usually take place outside in hot weather (dislike #1). I think that your hubby will understand in time. Just keep being honest and take care of yourself as I find myself also trying to explain how I feel about things like this also. It is not easy, but at some point, we have to fulfill our dreams which are just as important as our better halves. Congrats on your winning art and keep up the great work!

    • Yes, these comments have given me so much comfort and peace and allowed me to look at this issue as a non-issue and move on. He will camp, I will not. Done.

      What is it about family gathering and the heat? Outside in the sun, is not my place, and it seems if we all gather inside somewhere, our bodies warm up the place too. I also don’t handle heat well.

      Thanks for your support and helping justify taking care of myself. I am so excited about this art project! I’m sure I’ll be writing more about it as I get started.

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