Everyone has a tell. Some cry. Some eat. I lose my shit over the little stuff. Dirty spoon left in my clean sink? Laptop screen freezing? Slow drivers with seemingly no place to go? Any of them can trigger a wrath of profanity that would make a sailor blush.
I know it's irrational. And I know it's my tell.
It's not really my reaction to stress...
It's my sign that I've put everyone else's needs ahead of mine for too long.
Too bad I only needed 45 years and an hour on my yoga mat to figure that out.
We're led to believe that life's all about balance. Just breathe deeply and you can juggle work, kids, the house, the yard, and mundane chores...sanely and calmly.
Life is never in perfect balance. It ebbs and flows: some days- or weeks- work needs constant attention, other times the kids schedules are more demanding than anyone who can't yet drive deserves. And these waves perpetually continue until you're so nauseous you just want to get off the damn boat.
Ironically, I'm often so focused on checking off one more item on the endless to-do list and riding those waves that I fail to recognize that my own needs are overlooked.
Until I go emotionally overboard.
While I generally spend a good amount of time in my car, rarely am I affected by rush-hour traffic. Until last week.
Every trip took nearly double the travel time. Apparently every Prius wanted the left lane, and everyone else thought 10 mph under the speed limit was totally acceptable. Why wouldn't anyone MOVE!
I had things TO DO!
I had places TO BE!
Why wasn't anyone else in a hurry, and why couldn't they get the hell out of my way?
Yeah, those fucking deep breaths weren't working.
By the time I got finally got home, I wanted a super-sized whiskey with a tequila chaser, but saw the dinner dishes still in the sink (apparently I'm the only one with the gift to determine if the dishwasher is dirty), declared the day over and went to bed.
I was more rational by morning but knew I needed some clarity and needed to go where I hadn't been in months...my yoga mat.
Though the class generally has a familiar flow, the sequences are fairly unpredictable. Not this day. We did the same sequence over and over and over...adding an occasional pose here and there. I heard myself scream in my head "WTF...can we just MOVE ON!!"
And there it was.
I wasn't stressed over crazy schedules or driving hundreds of miles that week.
I wasn't stressed about the continual work interruptions (well, that was annoying).
I felt trapped and unable to control my space...my movement.
Traffic wouldn't move. The instructor wouldn't budge. And I had no control over it...besides my desire to grab my mat and leave.
I realized that by constantly juggling so many balls, I'm unconsciously continually controlling my surroundings: everything is meticulously timed so the schedule doesn't fall apart.
Unfortunately, life doesn't flow according to my time.
I guess that makes it my responsibility to adapt. Which is fine, unless I've spent all of my time ensuring my kids and everyone else have their "survivial packs" yet forget pack my own.
Somehow taking care of ourselves has become synonymous with lazy.
"Oh, you read the latest thriller? I WISH I had time to read, but we're so BUSY with Matilida's competitive kazoo schedule."
"This Is Us? I've never heard of it. We don't have time for TV."
"If I had any free-time, I'd get a massage too."
I'm calling bullshit.
Self-care isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. Not only is it good for our health- mental & physical- it's better for everyone around us too. We're a little more patient, a little less snappy, and generally a little kinder.
And the world needs a lot more kinder now.
Read. Run. Play roller derby. Whatever it is that feeds the soul, do that.
Life will never stop chutes and laddering our asses back to the bottom. But, if I've paid a little attention to my own needs, maybe I'll be able to pause, take a few deep breaths, and not entirely lose my shit.
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