Spin out

I cannot speak for my husband, the Carpenter, but I suspect there are times when being married to me must be both comical and frustrating. It’s like watching your favourite dog chase its tail until it topples over, knocks into a table, spills someone’s drink and falls over. You love that dog. It’s loyal, it’s fun, it’s a cute dog. It’s affectionate and kind, but there is a serious screw loose in that dog.

I know what you’re thinking: this is offensive, self-deprecating humour. How could I compare myself to a dog? In my defense, it’s my self-deprecation and it makes me laugh, so I’m okay with it. You need to laugh more, too. I am well aware I’m nobody’s pet, but I am also keenly aware I’m a fool with the best of intentions who spins herself out of control on an unsettling regular basis, and thus, the dog metaphor is mine. Moving on.

This weekend the Carpenter got to witness a temporary meltdown. He sat patiently and listened (all jokes aside, he is the best listener I know) as I spun in circles, barking out frustrations because I’d allowed myself to get overloaded and overwhelmed, having given too much of myself, my time, my energy. Self-inflicted. Well-intended.

I’m not a martyr, but in these incredibly difficult times, I’ve been doing everything I can to be positive for myself and others. I’ve amped up my kindness from a safe distance. Maybe I’ve overdone it. I’m a recovering people-pleaser in the midst of rather scary pandemic, so it’s only natural I’d over-extend myself. I’m someone who holds open a door for a stranger, lets cars merge into traffic, and patiently waits in line without complaining. When someone has a problem, I’m a great listener. Happy to help out. But like any good deed, it doesn’t go unpunished. It takes one negative comment, one tail-gating jerk, one impatient shopper, or a thirsty, emotional vampire to move the mark on my “humanity sucks” meter.

Hello, burnout.

There is a cure (and the Carpenter says it’s not to throw rocks at people, though I did suggest that). Self-care. I know it’s the buzz word now. It sounds so selfish, doesn’t it? Not true. I assure you, this self-care stuff is critical to you and everyone you love. Critical. Trust me when I tell you that if you don’t put yourself first every now and again, you are no good to anyone who needs you.

And people need you. Sometimes you don’t even know how much people need you. You matter. You do. Trust me.

Sticking with the dog metaphor, I do love a good walk. After spinning myself in circles in front of my patient spouse, I layered up and headed out to walk into the snow storm. I drudged through the unplowed streets walking off the frustration. My muscles resisted but my mind was happy. It felt good to breathe the fresh, cold air. No phone in my pocket. No interruptions. Zero human contact. I stopped under a street light and watched the white snowflakes dance in the light.

The world seemed quiet under the blanket of snow. Peaceful. Beautiful. And I felt restored.

Be kind to one another, but please be kind to yourself. You matter. I matter. We’re in this together. Don’t make me use a dog metaphor on you.

WriteOut of Her Mind