Monday, April 26, 2010

In Which I Give Myself A Time Out

What do you do when the person driving you the craziest is yourself?   

I know what I don't do anymore.  I don't drink to hide from myself, thank God.  

I'm sitting here looking through what seems like an innocent enough checklist for the day, and each item is more complicated than it should be, because I missed a deadline (or three), forgot to return a form, lost a file, can't find contact information.    Everywhere I turn today I see examples of ways in which I make my life more difficult.   

I've tried every organizational system out there.    I'm sure I'll get emails telling me to try this or that -- trust me, I've been there.

This is more than an organizational problem.    Most people don't believe me when I tell them this, but it's true:  I am easily overwhelmed.   Add to the mix hyper-sensitivity and a rebellious streak and things get hairy sometimes.

I have a hard time understanding what is a big deal and what isn't.   Everything is a big deal to me.   Not just the little organizational details of life, but feelings, too.   Mine and everyone else's.   I can't prioritize, because I'm overwhelmed.   It is exhausting.   

The smallest details seem like insurmountable hurdles, and I get frozen, paralyzed. 

I've been here before, and I know it will pass, but at the moment I'm overloaded with details, thoughts, observations, feelings, and I'm so very sick of it.

The best and the worst part of sobriety is that I'm aware, now, of how I am.    It is a gift to be able to step back, cultivate an Objective Observer who can help me see things that need to change.    But being aware of a need to change and doing something about it are two very different things.     Some days I just want to tell my Objective Observer to shut the fuck up.   Today is one of those days.    

But because I can't tell her to shut up, not anymore, I have to listen.  

Here's what she says: 

You have a cold, you're rundown.    You just had school vacation, so a lot of the things you do on a daily basis to stay on top of things got put off in favor of trips to the circus, the beach, the park.    You had a great vacation, lots of good quality time with the kids, probably the best vacation you've ever had.  You had to make some choices, and the details of day-to-day life got pushed off in favor of family time.   

You're doing well on your diet, but that takes a lot of emotional energy, even though you would like to think it doesn't.    There is a hole in your life where food - any food, any time - used to be.  Some days you feel empowered because of the changes you're making, and other days you feel badly that - yet again - you overdid something and now you have to pay the piper. 

You made some mistakes recently.    You overlooked some important details and now you're scrambling.   Own it.

Take a deep breath, and try to go easy on yourself.   Resist the temptation to curl up into a ball of self-pity.   Remember you have a hard time figuring out what is a big deal and what isn't, so just take things one step at a time.   This will pass.

I'm fairly sure not everyone has to speak to themselves in the second person to talk themselves off the edge. 

But that is my recovery voice, my voice of sympathy, reason and truth.   She makes me face myself, steers me away from dangerous self-loathing and self-pity.  

I'm glad she's there, even when she pisses me off.


  1. This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday!

  2. mice in a jar, Ellie. Mice in a jar.

  3. Hang in there. Being sick always knocks me for a loop too.


  4. I like your observer. She seems nice. Can I borrow her for a while?

    I can so relate to what you write here. I don't think I looked at it that way before, but I also get easily overwhelmed. have to mail a letter? Big deal! Have to cook dinner AND give the kids a bath? Ack, how will I do it all? I find the 'do the next right thing' mantra helps, or I just chant in my head to 'put one foot in front of the other', which to me means the same thing.

  5. Cat - Yes! Mice in a jar. I guess I have to put myself in the jar, too. :)

    Jane - it's nice to know I'm not the only one who gets like this... and the "next right thing" is so important. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. It is awesome to know that I am not the only one who gets all emotional and overwhelmed. My boyfriend calls me over emotional - I like to think I am passionate :) Thanks for the post

  7. I am the same way. Your recovery voice is amazing. It is hard to listen when you're not used to hearing yourself say all those positive words, but it's there inside you. That's a great place to start. Hang in there. You're doing a great job.