I am having difficulty learning a new lifestyle. Mostly because it goes against how I have approached life for the last half century.
This is usually how I approach new projects. First, I will do some serious study:
- Look at the project as a whole.
- Look at each aspect of the project.
- Decide the result that I want.
- Map out the steps needed to get those results.
- Decide on a time frame.
Then I am ready to start.
I stand at the deep end since I usually do the hard parts first when I have the most energy and motivation. Then I jump, pull my knees to my chest, and splash into the project.
A Lifetime of Experience
I have always been able to do whatever I set my mind to. I make a plan and work hard.
This has always worked for me. I have been able to push through the stress and will myself through the difficulties with focus and a positive attitude.
So why can I not do this anymore?
Because I no longer have any reserves to draw on.
Have you ever played with candles? Seeing how long it takes to burn if you light one end? Both ends? Both ends and the middle?
I have always been able to multi-task. As many as 4-5 things at a time. It is all about timing, organization, and focus.
Each task is like lighting your candle. The only problem is that you only have one candle. How many places can you light a candle? Surprisingly, several.
The problem is this. The more flames you have burning on a single candle, the faster it burns out.
Bip Doesn’t Like Fire
I didn’t understand this until fairly recently. Like the last five years.
I jump into a new project with my candle lit like a firework. Light and sparks everywhere. I start burning it up.
Then Bip gets upset.
Fire needs oxygen to burn. Without oxygen, the fire dies.
Bip spreads her wings when she gets upset. She will stretch them out as far as she can to put the fire out.
Here is the problem. I am the fire. So, when Bip spreads her wings it casts everything in the deep darkness of depression.
Darker Than Dark
I have often wondered what that phrase means. How can you get darker than dark?
Now I know.
There are two kinds of darkness:
- Visual Darkness: Like you are standing in a room without light and you cannot see.
- Physical Darkness: You are standing in a cave deep underground and can feel the dark settle around you like a suffocating weight.
Bip tends to go for the second one.
Once her wings are stretched out to block out the light, she begins to fill the space with the cold smoke of doubt.
The smoke makes it hard to breath. The doubt makes you wonder if you want to.
This is how it feels when Bip gets upset.
I cannot see any light and it feels as if there is no way out.
This is the great mind game that Bip and I play. Remember, that is where Bip lives. In my head.
I have learned over the years that if I try to fight Bip she will win. She is bigger and stronger. The more I fight the more immovable she becomes.
So, what do I do? I have learned to wait.
If I take a deep breath and acknowledge Bip, she will stop growing and the smoke will begin to clear.
It Takes Time
So how long does it take to get Bip to relax and let me out of the dark? That depends on several things:
- What did I do to upset her?
- How long did I try to ignore her?
- How upset is she?
- Do I need to stop or start doing something?
These are important questions. If I cannot answer them, then it is very difficult to convince Bip to calm down.
The faster I can answer these questions, the sooner I can begin to give Bip what she needs.
Depression is Real
Don’t let anyone tell you differently!
You may not be able to see it, touch it, explain it, or justify it.
Does that make it any less real?
What ever the reason you struggle with it, depression is a real and serious thing.
It Will Pass
This is the most important thing I need to remember. This darkness and doubt may be real, but they are not permanent.
This can be difficult to believe, especially when Bip refuses to be calmed.
It’s like being in a public place with your screaming and inconsolable toddler. Each minute feels like an hour.
Be good to yourself. Focus on the joys of the moment.
It. Will. Pass.
This is where I am struggling. I know I cannot cannon ball through life anymore, but how else do people get things done?
Apparently, there is another way.
Have you head of the story of The Tortoise and the Hare?
I have always been the Hare. Running at top speed and getting things done.
Now I get to be the Tortoise. Slow and steady. But things still get done.
It is frustrating.
There is so much I need to do. So much I want to do.
What Am I Willing to Give Up
This is a very good question. Here are the things I am willing to give up:
- Rides on the emotional roller coaster of the Fearsome Foursome. Just because it is always there does not mean I have to ride it all the time.
- Falling off cliffs. Every time I try to be the Hare I end up running off the edge of a cliff and falling into the suffocating darkness of depression.
- Getting emotionally unplugged. When Bip is upset, I get cut of emotionally from the world around me. Even my family.
So, what do I get? So much more:
- More emotional stability. This allows me to enjoy my time with family and friends.
- The ability to enjoy the journey. To see and enjoy the small moments that fill our lives with joy.
- Peace within. This is the most important. The quiet calm in my heart that I have sought all my life. This allows me to be calm when the world is going crazy around me.
Patient With Myself
This is a challenge. As a recovering obsessive-compulsive-perfectionist-overachiever I want things done perfectly. Now.
I say recovering because that behavior is so ingrained into who I am that it will take some reprogramming to change it. So, what is my recovery program?
- Accept that I am not Superwoman and it is okay.
- Give myself permission to slow down. Yes, permission is important.
- Learn to say “No.”
- Let go of the guilt I feel when I cannot do it all.
- Recognize when Bip is upset and act accordingly.
- Take time off to give Bip the attention she needs.
- Re-evaluate what I am trying to accomplish.
- Break it down into smaller steps if necessary.
- Change direction if necessary.
Is this easy? No.
Is it necessary? Yes.
One day at a time I can do this.
I have to do this if I want to continue to live life on my terms.