I woke up the other morning draped in unsettledness.
I am confident anyone reading this knows exactly what I am talking about.
It’s like, you feel the physical impact of unrest immediately upon waking, but your mind hasn’t caught up with your instinct quite yet, so you have to lie there in bed and do a mental review of the usual suspects until you hit on the one thing that exacerbates your anxiety, signaling a match:
Ugh…(identifying feeling of icky unsettledness while still half-asleep).
Uh-oh. Something’s wrong.
What is it, what is it, what….is….it? Think…..think…..
Did the husband and I fight last night? No.
Forget to a pay a bill? Something with money? No. Thank God.
Kids — oh…..yep — [oldest son] on the trip. Eight more days until he comes home (shoulders further tense; pulse picks up the pace a bit). Yeah, there it is.
Oh, and then my blog — never wrote a post for Monday. Or Tuesday. Ewww….lazy. You’re slipping! Okay, so that too.
That all? Yes — I think so.
So, in my case, I woke up the other morning with residual stress because my baby isn’t home and I had neglected my blog.
These two things are related, by the way. And this relationship is what I want to explore, because I think it touches on something observable on a macro-level — beyond me and my little experience.
Let me explain:
I didn’t create a post for yesterday (or the day before), even though I had made a comittment to publish something every single weekday. And most Saturdays.
And while this might sound like no big deal to some, it is a very, very large deal to me.
When I set a goal, only the threat of losing life or limb qualifies as an appropriate distraction from said goal. It’s just the way I’m wired — I’m incredibly intense about the deals I make with myself. Recently, in a moment of reflection and self-assessment, I discovered that in all likelihood, my voracious appetite for the setting and meeting of goals is really a means to make sure a sense of hope is always available to me in good measure.
Goals not yet attained equal — in my mind at least — possibilities. Possibilities with unlimited sub-possibilities attached. And possibilities equal purpose and movement and discovery. And purpose, movement, and discovery are all necessary in creating a sense of hope.
Hope that what is good might become even better.
So, yeah, ignoring my blog for a few days was crippling to my sense of hope. Crazy? Perhaps, but it’s my truth.
Now, neither life nor limb has been threatened lately, so what gives?
Well, you see, my oldest child is off on his first trip without our little family unit of four. He is with his grandparents for a ten-day adventure, canyoneering and rock propelling and ATV-ing out in the wild, wild west of Utah, Nevada and Arizona.
We make our home on the East Coast.
So, my baby’s clear across the country. Nearly 3,000 miles away for what feels less like “roughly a week” and more like 240 hours.
240 hours in which I must cede control over one half of what is most precious to me (in the event that my other son ever reads this post someday — yes, [youngest son], you are the other half).
So, I have a thing about fueling hope, and I also have a thing about control.
And right now, I have no control. And when I can’t orchestrate, I self-sabotage by avoiding most things that involve purpose, movement and discovery (see above explanation on goal-setting).
I don’t know why this is. I certainly don’t mean to do this — though it seems beyond my capacity to overcome. Like, my loss of control over one particular thing ushers in a whole psychology of abandon, where I engage not at all in anything other than frittering away the minutes and the hours and the days on complete nonsense until I regain control over whatever it is I feel I’ve lost control of.
So, I can’t focus on writing a blog post or changing the sheets in the boys’ rooms or preparing a proper dinner, but I can go for my third jog of the day, repaint my bedroom, and on-line shop on etsy for “mid-century modern oil paintings of Italy.”
Right now, my most recent post is three days stale, the bed sheets are soured, and dinners are cobbled together without a plan — a can of baked beans, a few slices of bread, cheese? Check. Dinner’s done. [Throw haphazard mash-up of foods on table and exit kitchen to walk aimlessly around the house].
But — I have run more miles in one day than I typically do in three, my bedroom walls are a newly christened muddy gray, and I ordered an awesome portrait that I’ll find space for once it arrives in five-to-seven business days.
Bursts of unproductive productivity seem to be my coping skill when I lose charge over my comfortable and carefully-curated environment.
And, yes, I very much realize that this tendency only serves to add more things to the list over which I have completely lost my grip.
As I said, self-sabotoge.
Now, I wish I had something more intelligent to offer up. I wish I could type out some really clever transition sentences that would bridge to an “a-ha!” conclusion statement — one that turns this whole jumbled mess of a situation into a teachable moment, complete with instructions on how to better proceed at times like this.
But I’ve got nothing.
I did want to share this with you, though. Because, as I mentioned earlier, I suspect I am not the only one who grapples with control issues and unproductive bursts of productivity and self-sabotage.
I suspect this is a universally human thing.
So, see, I do it too.
And that’s pretty much all I wanted to say.
Until tomorrow, when I will have only 120 hours left to go, and therefore will likely be in a better frame of mind — one in which I am able to tell a story with clever transition sentences that bridge to an “a-ha” conclusion statement. Or at least one with lots of self-depracting humor and other attempts at levity.
I will work that story out in my mind as I paint my sitting room today….