If I could do everything myself, I would.
In a universe of infinite time, health, and energy, doing things my way in accordance with my standards brings me immense pleasure. Especially since every time I ask for help from a person I’ve not collaborated with before, the result is either a terrific learning experience or immensely frustrating, depending on how tired we are, how closely the deadlines loom, and how idealistic my expectations and assessment of my own communication skills were.
For me, a lot of Self-Care is about Trust.
There are a bunch of elements that go into the challenge of trust:
- Trust to believe that help is possible, and available, and that you are worth it.
- Trust to show vulnerability, and experience the ego reaction of asking for help.
- Trust that even when you treat yourself gently, you will choose to do the work needed.
- Trust to admit to yourself where you are, and to speak plainly and directly about it.
- Trust in others to be okay and to pick up the slack, knowing that sometimes they will not.
- Trust to give encouragement, support, and room to fail and grow, to people helping you.
- The hardest thing to trust, is that everything is going to be okay, one way or another.
All of this is really hard for me.
I’m used to being one of the most competent people in any room. I have a history of expecting other competent people to be too busy, and too critical. I expect them to value independence strongly. These expectations are a story–it is not even a true story, but it is buried deep. I used to keep myself safe by isolating myself as much as possible. The more overwhelmed and scared I felt, the further I hid, and the more I pretended I could do anything, and that nothing bothered me.
I also have a story that many of us share, about not being enough, or not being good enough. That our value comes from doing, and doing more, and not quitting, and having harder personal goals and standards than the rest. Brene Brown talks about this a lot, and well.
Now, I am both shorter on energy, and my projects have started to become fascinatingly, excitedly bigger than what I can dream of doing alone. So now I need a team.
A partner who makes an embarrassingly large number of meals, while I rest or work on something so captivating that I forget what meals are.
I need people to talk with, so that the tiny sparks of creative ideas do not die in isolation.
I need to remember that keeping myself healthy and making time for rest and movement is the only way it is “all going to be okay.”
I need to trust that the things that are completely impossible for me to do, are not going to lead me to fail… As long as I work with others who can do the things I can’t.
I need to ask for help earlier than I need it, so that the act of helping is a third of the work for the person who steps, than if I fry my own reserves first and then ask.
My sense of safety used to come from the illusion of control. It did not help enough. The need for the illusion of control made me horrible to work with on deadlines. It did not keep me from having panic attacks at night, struggling with visions of not being able to keep bad things from happening to people I love. It also kept me responsible for everything, and unable to make a change in the world, bigger than myself.
I started looking into fixing this about a month ago. It started with a mindfulness practice and progressed to a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program. I’m only 30% not sucking at it, and it helps more than anything ever has before.
It helps me to trust what is, and to be more okay with what will be.
It is a process.
There is a fair amount of crying…
…but less hopeless sobbing into the night.
Sometimes I can even move project deadlines or cancel plans, when I am too tired to unpack my suitcase only to pack again.
And people don’t seem to hate me for not being enough.
And most days now I go outside and listen to books in the sunlight, before starting work.
And four days or so out of the week, I make time for myself.
I’m not lowering my standards much, but I am getting better at treating those who are my support network with more compassion and trust. I can see treating myself that way also, sooner than I would have expected a year ago.
This blog is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on Gifted Self-Care. To read more blogs in this hop, visit this Blog Hop at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_gifted_self_care.htm.