Log in

No account? Create an account
Chaotic thoughts - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Chaotic thoughts [Mar. 8th, 2004|10:13 pm]
[Current Mood |exhaustedexhausted]

I'm having a struggle this evening. At the end of last week Ferrett was concerned because I seemed distant, and I felt it too, but could not for the life of me put a finger on what was bothering me. Then we had a lovely weekend and that feeling evaporated like so much June dew.

This morning I came home from work and we sat down to dinner and I felt it again. And so did he. And I realized, it's not emotional; it's physiological - by the time I get home in the evening I simply cannot connect. I have been functioning beyond my capacity and the slightly slower pace is not enough to allow me to recover. Burnout is not a one-weekend event.

I have no experience with this, and I keep scheduling myself for things despite it. I have to stop. As Ferrett put it tonight, "I need you to stop being SuperWoman, because I'm your special effects crew." I have to get past this so that we can get past it. There is no more "just suck it up." I have to carve out survival. I'm not good at it.

Which all brought me face-to-face with his vitriolic reaction to Spalding Gray's suicide. I could barely read it, because of the intensity, and because I have been suffering the mentality of the burnout victim: The only choices are succeed or die. When you feel like you can't go on but you have no other choice, life feels narrow and chilly.

Ferrett pointed out that of course there are other choices. I can stop trying to be all things to all people and be selfish and self-centered and take time for my own needs and heal.

What a terrifying thought. Of course if I don't keep helping people they will be bereft and needy and hurt. And it will be...my...fault. And I will be bad and evil for failing them.

I'm doing a bad job of everything right now. I'm a bad friend, a bad student, a mediocre employee, and a lousy wife. The world doesn't let you get off for a week or so, though, so I have to prioritize. My bootstraps have sheered off down to the nubbin.

Which brings me back to Spaulding Gray and the aching hole that filled his heart before he made a hole in the river. Ferrett's righteous fury terrifies me. Because I never had permission to have it. He had the luxury of a childhood where he could be furious with adults and they would still be there. In mine I had to be the peacemaker or there was a real danger that they would go away. Love was withdrawn, and children were abandoned. And so I forgive and forgive and forgive, until forgiveness wounds me. And yet, it took all that for me to have a decent relationship with my parents now.

Somewhere between his redolent fury and my terrified pity is a center path. And for that we continue to seek.

From: erisreg
2004-03-09 04:15 am (UTC)

is a center path

i didn't respond to ferrets post because i respect the right of the individual to be selfish, and i selfishly dodged the bullet of battle over a sad man's demise,.. you need to be selfish, you can do it with love and compassion but #1 has to survive to do that,..all the things i do i do at my pace,.. i gave up any notion of a professional career when i saw the load required to succeed/excel at any of the things i could have done, stress is not a reward, yet that seems to be the biggest thing most people get in their lives,.. fear, fury, any of the extremes seem to accomplish little more than to pile more onto the stress plate, and that effects you and all around you,.. you can back off, slowdown, doing what you need to in two days instead of one,..a friend of mine put herself in a state of panic over her thesis for her graduate degree, consequently accomplishing the very thing she was panicking over,.. it took me a week of talking to her to get her to go to her adviser and get an extension,,(which she got )even though told in the beginning that none would be allowed,..if you destroy yourself in the pursuit of your dreams wouldn't you be accomplish the same thing by just giving up,.. there is the center path, allow your dreams to guide, not drain, you,....meh, you can tell me to shut up now.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-10 04:05 am (UTC)

Re: is a center path

I have chosen the fast track, and in much Ferrett is right - we make choices and then have to live with the consequences.

There is still a center path, though. I am seeking it. Deep thanks for your words and thougths.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-10 04:03 am (UTC)
Yup. I do fine in class, and on the 'net, but at times in real life I still fold. The beatings weren't intolerable, but the fear that at any minute all of life would drop out from beneath us like a stage trapdoor was the worst. (And the beatings were still shitty [g].)

I have a sense of distance from the lousy things about my childhood, and good analytical skills. The ability to compare and contrast is helpful.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: theferrett
2004-03-09 04:24 am (UTC)
I'm doing a bad job of everything right now. I'm a bad friend, a bad student, a mediocre employee, and a lousy wife.

No. You're a good wife in a bad time. There's a big difference.

Good men leave bad wives, but they stay by the side of good wives during bad times. You're afraid that I might go, 'cause you think you're bad, but I know what you really are.

You're worth it, and we'll get through. And you are correct; as usual, I'm too angry and you're too forgiving. Somewhere in the center lies the truth.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: megthelegend
2004-03-09 06:07 am (UTC)
This is why I dig the hell outta you two.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cyan_blue
2004-03-09 05:50 am (UTC)
Many, many hugs. I understand the 'driven' thing, and I am too often guilty m'self of putting work before play (and partners). I'm trying consciously now to put a lid on the number of commitments I take on, and to finish the ones I have, so that I can be more present for myself and others again.

Mantra: "I'll be caught up with my to-do list when I'm dead."
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-10 04:00 am (UTC)
I'm trying, believe me. It's tough, but I'm trying.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: megthelegend
2004-03-09 06:03 am (UTC)


I have a similar reaction when I hear about things people say to their partners, sometimes -- "You mean it's OK for you to say that?"

My husband and I have a good relationship mostly, but there are Things You Just Can't Say To Him. And it amazes me that other people can put down their partners (male or female), express anger, etc., without it being a big deal.

I think my response to Gray's suicide is somewhere in between you guys, too. I hate hate hate what he's done to his family, especially his daughter -- but I generally empathise too much with people, and feel too much pity, and I can't turn that off this time. He wasn't thinking straight. He should've been, and he's massively at fault for that, but it's not like he thought to himself "She'll be hurt but I am more important."

At least, I hope he didn't think that.

As to the burnout thing -- I am so sorry you're going through that, sweetie. I don't have any helpful or non-helpful advice to offer that you haven't already thought of. Well, apart from this: YOU HAVE TO TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. I know it's hard. Really, really hard. I struggle with this, too. I drown and drown until I finally think to myself, "I need a couple of hours off" and it's like the sky has cleared, because I literally could not think of that previously.

I'm lucky in that I can, very infrequently, leave work a couple hours early. Last week I had a quick lunch BY MYSELF and saw a movie BY MYSELF and it was absolutely wonderful. First time since October that I'd planned something & looked forward to it, and damn it was good.

Is there some way you can *schedule* at least 2 hours on a weekend or weeknight where you can do what *you* want to do? Whether by yourself or with Ferrett -- if you're by yourself then you will still recharge and be more receptive when you're next with him anyway.

Meg the Mother Hen
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-10 03:59 am (UTC)

Re: Burnout

Thank you so much. I need to grind through the next two weeks, and then things should lighten up some.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-10 03:57 am (UTC)
Thanks, sweetie. I will focus on the fact that perfection is not a prerequisite to being okay.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: scarletdemon
2004-03-09 09:45 am (UTC)
if I don't keep helping people they will be bereft and needy and hurt

Or they'll have to get brave and find their own solutions. At worst I'd imagine they'll mark time until you are back fussing over them again ;).
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-09 02:28 pm (UTC)
I know. Intellectually I know. Emotionally I am terrified that if I fail them in their hour of need (real or imagined) that they will abandon me - and I will deserve it.

I'm generally not this vulnerable to my demons, but my defenses being worn down have left me thus. And since they are exposed I might as well try to drag them out into the open and hope that the light of day is as effective on them as on vampires.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: roadnotes
2004-03-09 12:54 pm (UTC)
"What a terrifying thought. Of course if I don't keep helping people they will be bereft and needy and hurt. And it will be...my...fault. And I will be bad and evil for failing them. "

Ah, fuck. You've got that program embedded in your system, too.

I don't have many words, because I'm fighting that sme sort of programming (and terror mixed with an odd sort of envy towards the Ferrett, for being able/being allowed to get that angry over anything), but it does sound like you need more decompression time than you're getting. But your friends will wait for you, and you're not intrinsically bad.

You're not bad.
You're stressed.

There's a difference.

And you are allowed to be gentle with yourself, you know.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: call_me_harmony
2004-03-09 01:39 pm (UTC)
This comment said everything I could possibly say. It's hard to fight away from responsibility for everyone and everything that happens to them.
Nonetheless it's a battle worth fighting.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: darthfox
2004-03-09 01:48 pm (UTC)
Ferrett pointed out that of course there are other choices. I can stop trying to be all things to all people and be selfish and self-centered and take time for my own needs and heal.

[raises hand] it's neither selfish or self-centered to recognize that you can't be all things to all people all of the time. in fact, you can be fewer things to fewer people less of the time if you don't take some time to pull your own self together once in a while. i'm just sayin'.

What a terrifying thought. Of course if I don't keep helping people they will be bereft and needy and hurt. And it will be...my...fault. And I will be bad and evil for failing them.

no matter how many times i read that, i can't tell if your tongue is in your cheek when you say it or not. if it is, there's no need for me to say what i'm about to say; but in case it's not, i'll take the statement at face value and say this:

don't let self-reliance and a reputation for dependability go to your head. grown-up people can get along without you, and to suppose otherwise is a special kind of arrogance that will give you ulcers if it hasn't already.

I'm doing a bad job of everything right now. I'm a bad friend, a bad student, a mediocre employee, and a lousy wife.

the hell you say. listen carefully: not being "the best" (whatever that is in your head) does not make you "bad".

that's your mantra. repeat it as often as needed.

your friends? sometimes take time for themselves. sometimes you take care of them. you're entitled to no less. your husband? ditto. your job? i'm fairly sure "going above and beyond", etc., isn't actually in your job description. if you're doing your job, you're not a mediocre employee. your schoolwork? girl, your descriptions of your work on your law review note make my head hurt. you're doing fine.

(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-09 02:24 pm (UTC)
Not exactly tongue in cheek, but decidedly rueful recognition of the fact that intellectually I know I'm full of it and yet STILL can't get over myself emotionally.

Arrogant? Oh, you betcha. I'm trying to learn that balance.

Thanks for the good words. They are needed.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sassamifrass
2004-03-09 02:26 pm (UTC)
This post strikes a chord with me, for I too am feeling burnt out (I work, or am at university 9-5 6 days out of 7, and on the seventh day, I dance...). And the second part of your post also rings true for me.

I hope you find a way to improve these things for yourself, and share them with us.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-09 02:32 pm (UTC)
The journal is my life as a work in progress, so believe me as I get anywhere I will be sharing!

Six days a week is brutal. I feel for you.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: poeticangelx
2004-03-09 02:57 pm (UTC)
I like your analysis of how you two were raised affecting how you react now.

I am the type who also forgives and forgives.. my boyfriend is the type to get angry. I wish I could find the middle path, but I just don't see it...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-10 04:07 am (UTC)
I did my whole first marriage in that relationship. It's not worth it. Walk away, because you can't win this fight. He has a chance of changing if you disengage, but you'll never see it from where you are.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: myshanter
2004-03-09 06:10 pm (UTC)

Again, I say I have faith in you...

So many people love you, and of course the Ferrett is first among those. The others will understand if you put yourself and your health ahead for a while. You won't be failing them. If you give in to the people who "need" you all the time, your reserves will be gone, and you won't have any left for yourself or Ferrett or the girls. There are other people who can take up where you leave off. And they will if you let them.

I also agree with the comment above: people save themselves when you let them do so. And it makes them stronger, and less likely to "need" later. Teach a man to fish, and all that.

Anyway, this time will pass. If you make the time to take care of yourself and Ferrett, you will be better off in the end. Pamper you for once!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-10 03:56 am (UTC)

Re: Again, I say I have faith in you...

I am working on attitude adjustment. It's good to be loved.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: apostate_96
2004-03-09 09:55 pm (UTC)

Not Enough Hours In The Day

I can definitely relate to what you're talking about here. For me, it came from being raised at least ostensibly Catholic....at least enough to get the sense of responsibility and guilt burned into me. Much of what helped me get through some of that was that the work I do requires that sometimes I do things that will make people upset or push them, and it's done for their own good.

My own burnout phase came when I was working in a locked residential hospital for adolescent sex offenders and had gotten hung up on the idea that I WAS SUPPOSED TO MAKE THEM BETTER!!! Those kids changed slowly, and my frustration slowed their progress even more. Finally I had to have that pointed out to me, that that's what I was doing, and that I was wrong in my perception. A very wise friend told me that my job wasn't to fix them or to make it all better. My job was to help provide the best possible environment for them to learn to do it different and better. If they learned it, great; we'd all get to have hot chocolate with little marshmallows. If not, my paycheck would still cash and I could still sleep 'cause I'd done my job.

It took me a couple months to get that at more than just a thinking level, but it really helped make a difference in how I did my job. From there, it also has made some difference in how I live my life. Sometimes doing what's good for someone will be awfully uncomfortable for them. I've found, though, that when I just try to make them happy, I get more burned out and they either stay the same or get worse. For me, at least, the guilt from that far outweighs the guilt of making them feel bad in the name of doing what's good for them.

In the meantime, you have my best wishes 'n' prayers as you go through this yourself....
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-10 03:46 am (UTC)

Re: Not Enough Hours In The Day

Yeah, that would be tough - and I have the Catholic uobringing thing going, too. Pacing is everything. As Jack LaLayne once said, anyone can rip a phone book in half - one page at a time.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: alycekat
2004-03-09 09:56 pm (UTC)
Many people have pointed out that it's OK to take some time for just you, and of course, I agree.

And I'm sure you're not "bad" at any of your roles. Just not everything you'd like to be sometimes, would be my guess (not knowing you & all).

A little story that stuck in my head (on a slightly different wavelength from taking time out for "just" for yourself).

My husband was telling me about diving deaths he'd read up on, on-line. (We're scuba divers, so it's relevant, rather than morbid, for us.)

A man comes up to his dive master (under water) - he's out of air. She puts him on her tank (which is what she's supposed to do). She checks their air to see how much they have to work with. Then she decides they have time to swim a hundred yards or so, to the anchor line of their boat, so they can make a nice easy, guided assist up the rope. Even though they're in deep water (meaning they're burning thru air rather quickly, to begin with).

Rule #1 is when someone runs out of air, you put them on your tank, and you make a safe (ie appropriately slow) ascent to the surface, *from right where you are, right then*. Do not delay, do not fuck around. Surface ASAP (but safely, which itself takes a little time, coming up from depth).

Outcome: They both ran out of air. He panicked, and since she was out of air too, she couldnt help him. He drowned. She then shot to the surface, so she could breathe - and died later, of the bends. Moral of story: to take care of others, you have to be in decent shape yourself. Even when it's your job, and your ultimate responsiblity to be keeping others alive (which is what a dive master is there for) - you still have to take care of you, first. Otherwise, you'll be useless to you both.

So even if you cant bring yourself to take time out just for you, maybe you can convince yourself to take some time out, if only as a way of making sure you'll be able to be there for others, when they need you. Granted, it's kind of a mind trick, but maybe it will work for you, if you're not good at being "selfish".

You're doing a hard thing, as I'm sure you've figured out, by now. But law school, unlike other versions of Hell, doesnt last forever :~) Wishing you more restful times soon!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-10 03:44 am (UTC)
It's the reason they tell you on airlines to attend to your own oxygen mask first and then to your children. You can't care for others when you don't tend to yourself.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: lothie
2004-03-09 10:06 pm (UTC)
I hope this won't be inappropriate of me to say at this time, but...

You're not a lousy anything. Sometimes you may be better at whatever than at other times, but you are never truly bad.

You and I have the same problem. I know you'll fix it, because you're awesome. :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-10 03:37 am (UTC)
Thanks, dear. I'll take a little unconditional love just now.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)