For the last few weeks, I have had the worst time unwinding at night. The result is that I stay up too late, watching old sitcoms and getting my psyche pass-out drunk on social media. Some of the anxious thoughts are about the holidays approaching – and concerns about how I’m going to make it memorable for my kiddo without going into unmanageable debt. Some of the thoughts are about work. Nothing specific about work – I’m actually at a decent firm working with good people now. First time in a decade I have felt that way. But I do have nervous PTSD-driven thoughts from my last job (a toxic place filled with two-faced jerks and gross abuses of power). I was fired from that job (for refusing to be bullied by them) right after the holidays. But even thoughts about those wounds – fresh as they still feel sometimes – are not the most prevalent. No, the most frequent thoughts keeping me up at night are the ones I can most easily silence. I’m not taking good care of myself, and my psyche is screaming at me for attention.
To be clear, when I say I’m not taking good care of myself, I don’t mean physically. I actually started exercising again during my lunch breaks. When I was at my healthiest nearly a decade ago, I was doing lunchtime workouts. It was a great stress reliever, and my mind had rarely felt more resilient and healthy. I was also able to get back down to my pre-baby weight (after gaining 40 pounds post-pregnancy). I stopped because, at the time, I was a raging co-dependent workaholic who was assigned to a toxic boss that would chase me into the ladies’ room if he thought he could get away with it. Anyway – I am not saying any of that to blame anyone. To borrow a computing metaphor, I was following old subroutines that had been silently programmed into my operating system after decades of neglect and improper use. Now that I’m in a much better work environment, I’m able to start uninstalling some of those subroutines, and start chipping away at the nearly 90 pounds I have gained over the last decade.
No, what I mean by not taking care of myself is that I’m not letting myself feel. I go to therapy like a “good girl,” and I know I’m learning and healing… but I’m cheating my way through the process. I’m not letting myself do the hard work involved in growth. It’s like I’m riding a stationary bike at the easiest setting and being satisfied with that as a “workout.” I’m not stepping into my discomfort zone, not challenging myself to feel what I’m afraid to feel.
So here I am, waving the white flag of surrender and hoping the voices in my brain might give me a break tonight. I’m ready to “man-up” and start dealing with the scarier scars I carry. And whatever happens from here, I need to quit denying my pensive nature and allow myself to write about something other than to-do lists, meal plans or grocery lists. Writers gotta write!!