Thursday, June 26, 2008

"In this Corner, Weighing in at 500lbs: Stress!"

After a long, hard day at work I use to be able to come home and polish off a bottle of wine. Sure, it would start with a single glass, then another, and then, well, screw it—I’d drink the entire thing.

I can’t do that anymore. I can’t even have a glass of wine, and I don’t know why.

This week has been hell. I’ve been working 10-12 hour days every day, I haven’t been able to take a lunch break all week, and yesterday I couldn’t even find 15 minutes to write a blog entry. Damn this work encroaching on my personal life!

In all seriousness though, I’ve allowed myself to get more stressed out and worked up this week than I have been in a very long time. I think it’s a combination of factors that have played into my allowing myself to get to this point.

First, my boss is going away for 2 weeks beginning on Monday, so I have had massive amounts of work to complete (that I’m still trying to complete) that she needs to review before she goes away. On top of that, I’ve been trying to physically avoid her, because each time we run into each other I come away with several more tasks that need to be completed in the next hour or so.

Second, my mom is driving me up a wall. I love her to death, but we are two VERY different people. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the accident that lead to may father’s death almost 2 years ago. My mom, for whatever reason, sends me an e-mail bright and early yesterday to let me know this. What I felt like replying with was, “I’m not an idiot – I know when the accident and his death took place. I was there in case you forgot.” What I actually replied with was, “I’m familiar with the date.” On some level I know my mom needs to talk about the incident as part of her grieving, but my grieving involves not talking about it. It involves personal inner reflection. I’m uncomfortable discussing any part of it with my mom. I’m fine discussing all parts of it with anyone else, but not with my mom. Why? Perhaps because she brings it up so much, perhaps because it’s always a “woe is me” story that it’s turned into. It must suck for her—I get that; she was married to the guy for 30-some years, but I find it totally and utterly unfair for her to use me (in the capacity I’m least comfortable with, mind you). I’m being used, plain and simple. Am I ever asked how I feel about it? No. Not ever. Apparently this has contributed to my stress level more than I knew…

So then I get to this point where I am so stressed out that I’m completely miserable and unable to function in any other capacity besides “worker.” After 3 days of this, I’m wondering last night how I got here. I’m a pretty chill person—pretty laid back. In fact, I’ve been known to tell others around me to relax, because being anxious or stressed is not going to help the situation—in fact, it may hurt it. Yet, here I am with my shoulders up to my ears and my jaw perma-clenched.

Then I began thinking about how utterly calm I was when my dad did die. It’s one of those times where you realize just how powerless you are in a world that values complete control, and it’s kind of liberating. All those things that make us stressed: work, deadlines, arguments—they all mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, and when you find yourself in a situation such as having someone close to you die, those things you think are important cease to be important to you. You get bereavement at work, and your tasks that “had to be done” are put on hold or passed to someone else. I guess those things aren’t really that important anyhow.

So, I asked myself last night if I were to die today, how would I feel about it if, say, there was a period of time where I was dying and I knew I was dying before I actually died? I realized I’d be raging mad that I had spent this entire week all stressed out and pissed off. Well, that pissed me off, but in a good way.

Today’s goal is not to be stressed and not to get pissed off. It’s not worth it, and I need to remember that, so I don’t slip into this trap of wasting my time.

Here I sit with 3 tasks due in an hour, followed by a lunch meeting with an author, and a due date of “before the end of today” for a manuscript I’ve been editing and am still not finished with. You win some, you lose some. I refuse to let it get to me today.


girlon8wheels said...


I've only been reading this blog for a few weeks now, but I can already tell that you're a strong person (inside and out. Considering everything that's going on with you right now, it seems like you're handling everything as well as one could. No matter how chaotic life is, please remember to always take time for yourself. Remember, you're the only person you need to make happy. If you're not happy and taken care of, then you won't be able to take care of anyone else or their needs.

If it helps, I usually eat a bag of Doritos, go to open skate, or just have a good cry when I have a day like yours. Hopefully you have something in your arsenal to help you relax.

DayGlo Divine said...

I remember reading something somewhere -- probably the Washington Post Magazine -- about a family that, while not particularly religious, subscribed to the Orthodox Jewish concept of the Sabbath. For one day of the weekend, there was no working, no shopping, no social activity, and no driving around; the entire day was dedicated to reflection within themselves and bonding with each other, and they did it every week. The Mormons do the same thing with their family home nights, but in a more manageable time frame. The idea of a "day of rest" may be the one thing that organized religion actually gets right, and something that the rest of us could use. So no matter how busy I am, I try to make a point of setting aside one day or a couple nights as strictly "me time." Just wish I did something other than sleep during that time. :/