Learning to Chill.

So, I’m in my 2nd week of working from home.  Last week, I moved all of my on-campus classes to an online learning format, and this week, I’m starting to interact within my classes, while getting my students acclimated to this new way of doing things.

First, I know some people are complaining greatly at having to social distance, and that’s understandable.  It’s boring.  Inconvenient.  Tedious.  But, I just have to remember that it’s keeping me, and my family, away from the virus as much as possible.  And so importantly, that the healthcare workers on the front line…the business owners who have had to shutter their operation…the people that have been laid off indefinitely…those are the ones truly making sacrifices.  Some that will last the rest of their lives.  How sad that is…and how thankful I am to only have to stay home and teach online.  I’m blessed.

Having said that, I’m not good with inactivity.  Being bipolar, I’m used to UPS and DOWNS.  And to be honest, there’s not much in-between for me.  Actually, just not in terms of mood, but for everything.  I either love a food or hate it (beets and iced tea come to mind).  Want to watch a movie 100 times (Rocketman!!), or turn it off after the first 10 minutes.  Decide to buy that shirt the minute I see it, or pass it by with a small ‘blech’.

So activity is the same way.  If I get up and started, I can do so much and feel mega-productive.  But, if I allow myself to laze around a bit, I feel even more lazy and then guilty about being lazy and then feeling guilty about feeling guilty about being lazy.  Yes, it’s a circular trap I find myself in, and it perpetuates itself like rabbits.

Quotation-Bill-Gates-I-choose-a-lazy-person-to-do-a-hard-job-48-35-76

What is ‘lazy’ exactly?  And why does it have such a bad connotation in our society?  It doesn’t matter what word you use to describe it (idle, sluggish, slow, etc.), being lazy goes against what we are told to do:  and that’s to get things done!  Multitasking is the new way we need to go about our days!  Right??  If we aren’t doing at least 2 or 3 things at once, we’re not doing enough; we’re just couch potatoes.  Loafers.  A lazy-bones.   And look on Facebook.  People try to ‘out task’ others by listing all they did that day.  “I got my house re-plastered and painted by 6:00 a.m.  And now I’m getting ready to run a quick half-marathon before finishing the book I’m writing.”  “Oh yeah?  Well, I did all of that as well, except I ran a full marathon, the book I’m finishing is a tome, and I did 23 loads of laundry too.  But whatever.”  Sheesh.  When did it become a status symbol to knock ourselves out so much?

I’m learning that lazy isn’t a bad thing after all.  Being slow is OK.  Idle.  I’m tired of tiring myself out all of the time!  I’ve been working since I was 16 years old, and have tired myself out for the great majority of my life.  I cut the grass more times than necessary.  I vacuumed the living room even when it didn’t need it.  There were only a few dishes in the sink, but by golly, I did them, because God forbid they wait until more are added.

forrest gum

And what did that get me?  Not the martyrdom I wanted.  It got me nothing.  Well, nothing beyond being able to say “Look what I did today.  See…I’m not lazy!”  Does anybody remember what my backyard looked like in 2006?  Or that my rugs were extra fluffy a few years ago?  Or that my dishes still had a bit of yolk on them last week?  Probably not.

I think I know where this came from.  My self-esteem has never been great; as I’ve mentioned, I was always different from other kids and making friends was really hard.  So, I started to believe that to fit in or make friends, I had to DO SOMETHING in order to show my worth.  It wasn’t enough just being me. I had to GIVE.  Sometimes it was an over-abundance of time I gave.  Or presents.  Or money.  Or energy into proving “LOOK AT ME!!  I DID ALL OF THIS FOR YOU!!  NOW DO YOU SEE HOW AWESOME I AM?”

The problem with this is you start to understand it’s never enough.  And you start to feel resentful of the fact YOU feel you have to give.  But where is that resentment directed?  Towards the people YOU feel you have to give too.  So unfair to them.

My mother-in-law from Hubby #2 (my son’s dad) was perfect.  Martha Stewart perfect.  So busy…productive…self-sacrificing along with being a perfect gardener, cook, parent, and believe me, the list goes on.  She’s an amazing woman and I love her so much still, but she was a hard act to follow.  Especially since we lived right next door to her and her accomplishments were seen everyday.  To feel worthy of hubby, I felt I had to keep up.  Do just as much, if not more, to show I was ‘just as good.’  Or even just plain old good.  I’d be exhausted by the end of the day, and not feel any sense of accomplishment.  Just wondering if I did enough and being frazzled about what the next day would bring.

In my last relationship, I knew something was wrong from the start.  I have great intuition and usually trust it.  However, my heart just happens to be so much stronger, and it often prevails in romance.  Because he was still in love with his ex, and was still in touch with her regularly (although I was told I was paranoid when I’d ask him about it), I truly believed that if I did enough…gave enough…proved myself enough, it would be the catalyst for him to love me instead.  So I did.  I gave all I had.

martyr

Literally.  All of my energy and time and emotion and forgiveness and money and gifts and home and everything else you can think of.  And you can see where that got me; after all, I’m writing this as a single woman.  When we broke up (well, when I walked in on him with another woman…I guess that could be considered a break-up), I reminded him of all I did give him.  I fancied the idea that if he remembered all of my sacrifices, he’d realize my value.   He didn’t.  It was all for naught.

Now I’m trying really hard to work on understanding my value comes from me; from just being me.  Not from what I give or what I do.  But for who I am with the person…what I feel for them…what they feel for me.  I don’t have to ‘buy’ my worth; dammit, I’m worthy as I am.

you-are-imperfect-but-worthy-of-love

So I’m learning that it’s OK to be ‘lazy.’  To read on the couch for hours and get lost in a book.  To cuddle with my pooches and nap with my arms around them.  To putz around in my sewing room and take my time making something; not just to get it done and checked off a list, but to enjoy the process of cutting and sewing and creating with the fabric.  To scroll through Facebook and see my past students show off their new baby.  I think these things are more meaningful and more memorable than making sure my check-list is a tad longer than yours.

And with relationships?  Yes, of course I’m still going to give (when my Prince Charming arrives).  But I’m going to give of ‘me’…of who I am.  I’m not going to work and work and work so he can say:  “Wow…I need Kristi because she does this and gives me all of that.” I want him to say:  “Wow…I love Kristi for the woman she simply is.”

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard those words before.

Kristi xoxo

 

Author: Kristi

Just a bipolar Professor working to end the stigma of mental illness.

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