I spent the entire summer not connecting with myself. This led to me making a bunch of commitments, thinking I could handle them, and then realizing a few days later that I was totally overwhelmed and overloaded – and I completely flipped out. I’d joined a mastermind group, two classes, two forums (three, including my own), a freelance editing project, and two major writing projects – all in the midst of a major business earthquake, with personal earthquakes still rumbling, and still being an unschooling mom and household manager and logistical overseer.
What was I thinking?!
The thing is, I wasn’t. At each opportunity, I treated it as though it were my only opportunity. Each time, I thought, Sure! I can totally handle this! And each time, I totally failed to take into account all the other things I was already doing.
This lead to a major rearing of my old friend, the hydra. I told my son, “It’s funny; hydras are so big, you’d think they couldn’t sneak up on you.” I then mimed, as best a two-armed, one-headed creature can mime a nine-headed monster of epic proportions, the sneaking up of a hydra. It cracked him up.
For me, the hydra represents over-committing. It’s the name I give to feeling extremely overwhelmed because I’m wearing too many hats – I need to turn into a hydra (or hire one) to be able to handle everything. Thing is, I can’t turn into one, nor can I hire one (they’re woefully hard to find these days, and my access to the right kinds of Grecian fish is limited). I need to know myself better, and pay more attention to what I’m already doing so that, when an opportunity arises, I can make decisions that won’t leave me weeping hysterically or backing out of things and leaving others in the lurch.
(My apologies again to those I left in the lurch, and thank you for understanding. <3) I talked this over with Pace, and the solution we came to was genius. I'm getting a weekly calendar - a paper one, so I can see and feel it - and I'm going to write down all my commitments every week. Then, when something else comes up, I can look at my week and decide does this feel right? Does it fit in with my other commitments? It will anchor me and keep me from over-committing and, with a little luck, keep the hydra at bay.
It’s a tough gig, committing to knowing myself. When I fail, I get all wubbly and it’s hard not to beat up on myself. And let me tell you, this felt like a major failure. How could I not know that so many commitments would make me crazy? Well, I could not know that because my self-knowledge was stale. I thought I was who I was months ago, before surgery and before hormonal imbalance and before all this internal trauma – because when the trauma started, I disconnected, and I am only just now reconnecting. It’s been months and months and months since my connection to myself was healthy. It’s really not surprising at all that this happened – and though I’ve only myself to blame, it’s not helpful to place blame at all.
It’s okay to fuck up. It’s okay to disconnect from yourself when the going gets really, really bad and you need a break from the pain. It’s okay to make commitments you can’t keep – as long as you own up to the mistake and take responsibility and apologize (sincerely) and get out as soon as you realize you’ve over-committed. It’s okay to re-learn things you thought you’ve already learned (I’m doing that right now, in fact.)
Part of knowing yourself is learning about yourself, and that’s a continuous process – one that takes a lot of work and a rather ridiculous amount of humility.
I’m learning and re-learning about myself these days. Re-establishing those connections that faded and wore thin over the past 8 months. And I learned that only with a soothing and gentle song can I tame the hydra. Beating myself up only makes her hungrier.
What have you learned about yourself lately? Remember to treat yourself well; we’re all growing and changing, and that requires love and patience. You wouldn’t get mad at an infant for not knowing how to take care of herself; so, too, do we need care.