lessons from breaking down
A big part of who I am has always been about doing things.
I come from productive people. People who did things with their bodies. Changemakers. Impatient SOBs. It’s in my DNA.
I also learned from a very young age, that life is slipping through my fingers–every day. Time is running out. So, I’ve always been one to throw myself into my life…to pay too much attention to things, to keep busy, and to never cut myself much slack for my mistakes. And every mistake is a lesson. Because everything has to be put to good use.
All of this? Well, it sort of catches up with you. Eventually, your body just gets tired. You can only do so much. And if you ignore that, you pay.
Well, I did that. I ignored things. Kept going when I should have stopped and taken care of myself. I paid. I had to rely on people, whether I liked it or not. And man, I just don’t like it. I hate it. I’m bad at it.
But, useful as ever, life is teaching me things. Like how to accept my broken whatever–how to lean into the pain–and accept what is. To ask for things and accept that I need help.
This past week has been a real struggle.
I was under a tight deadline. Do well? I pretty much set myself up for all the professional goodies I deserve. Do poorly? I disappoint people. Mostly myself. I HATE disappointing people. I like reassuring people and then surprising them.
It was a week of other people breaking down. And me, swooping in to comfort them. And then, going out and doing the work that would stop all future breakdowns. I worked my ass off. So much so that the cold/flu thing I got over the weekend got worse. So much so that, by Thursday morning, I knew I needed to reschedule appointments I’d made for Friday. I knew I’d be needed. I knew I just couldn’t step away.
Only–these were things *I* needed. An appointment with my naturopath and new therapist. I haven’t seen my naturopath in a while–mostly because Boulder flooded and then I got too busy. The therapist I’d just found, and I really feel like I need that support to figure out some things/get on with it all. As usual, I put others before myself.
I was mad at myself, but I knew I just couldn’t do it. All week long, I’d told myself to stop scheduling work things. But I kept doing it. I’m too much of a people-pleasing perfectionist to accept balance as a way of life. My schedule until Tuesday actually scares me. I have no idea how I’ll find the energy to do ALL of THAT. Luckily, after Tuesday, my work here is mostly done. In November, I’ll move on to different things. I just have to figure out what I want.
Friday, despite my efforts to make it a reasonable day, was insane. But left and right, stuff kept blowing up. I woke up feeling worse than I had felt all week. I didn’t realize I’d scheduled an early appointment, so I had zero prep time and had to get going right away. I normally like to give myself an hour to ease in before talking to people. It makes the day so much better. That wasn’t happening. I had to submit my timesheet, which made me nervous because we’d just converted to a new system–which wasn’t working on Thursday. Sure enough, my attempt was unsuccessful. I knew I just had this time to do it, too. I called tech support–was given a login–tried–failed–called back. The tech support chica actually cursed and gave up–instead just manually entering my time for me–which actually ended up needing escalation because the problems were so bad. I was told I may not be paid on time. I also couldn’t enter expenses. Which isn’t a big deal, except I only have a tiny window to do it…or I lose it. And I’ll probably forget.
I had ten minutes to go to the bathroom, make breakfast, eat breakfast, and prep for my call. I hadn’t even brushed my teeth. When I got to the Keurig, it wouldn’t work. I tried messing with it and then realized the microwave wasn’t working either. I messed with the electrical stuff, and still nothing. I eventually realized the stupid power strips were off…after my small window had passed. I was starving. But I had someone waiting.
As it turns out, the someone wasn’t right for what I was working on. So, I was able to get off the phone early and fix the issue. I stuffed food in my face like a wild animal and got on my next call. The day was a cluster of massive proportions with me as court jester. People no-showed left and right. I spilled an entire mug of tea all over myself–and my bed–ruining pillows, staining sheets, and comforters–five minutes before a call. I had to call someone while I was soaking wet then clean it all up before my next scheduled call. I stubbed my toe, hit my head, almost crushed a cat, and ran into my television–head-first. My phones stopped working. People were unreliable and generally infuriating. I was afraid to leave the apartment for fear of major bodily catastrophe.
At the end of the day, I could only accept the insanity and laugh. I just gave up trying to be professional or whatever. And when I did, I talked to someone who reminded me of who I am and why I do this. It made the day okay. And then my boss told me how happy the clients were, and what a good job I was doing. He let me log off a little early. 45 minutes–not much, but enough. It was only then that I finally brushed my teeth and took all my vitamins/meds.
Yesterday, I had an appointment scheduled in Boulder that was pretty much a non-negotiable. I wasn’t too eager to drive up to Boulder, given my klutziness and bad luck streak. My roomie agreed to tag along. It was supposed to be a quick 20 minute appointment with a stop at a coffee shop I’ve heard raves about. We’d be back 1:30/2, at the latest.
We were late getting going due to logistics and miscommunication–though I’m always neurotic about leaving super early whenever I go up to Boulder because traffic can be such an ass. I was a bit of a nervous wreck. I hate doctors. A lot. I always get overly anxious. I had something that needed to be mailed from the post office, so we stopped there and then picked up breakfast. Everything was fine until we got onto the ramp to get onto the HOV lane of I-25. As soon as we got to 40 mph, the car started shaking uncontrollably. We pulled off to the shoulder, and my roommate checked all the tires. Everything looked okay. We went a little further, and it happened again. It was clear there was something pretty wrong happening, but neither of us are particularly good with cars.
We noticed that the shaking got better when we were driving under 40 mph. So, we decided to get off the highway as soon as possible, find a gas station, investigate, and then come up with a plan. Unfortunately, because we were stuck in the HOV lane, it wasn’t easy to get off the highway. We couldn’t do it until we hit 36, and then it was a bit of a nightmare to get off the highway. We finally did, though. Roomie checked the tires again and saw the pressure was low. He tried to add air to the tires, but had trouble doing so. He thought about changing out a tire, but there was no jack. Meanwhile, I tried calling the doctor’s office and got no answer.
So, we had two choices: try to get to Boulder in this car or get help. This was all further complicated by the fact that this was not our vehicle. It was a car share. I wasn’t even sure anyone was in their office. Help would probably take a while. Since the car wasn’t completely broken down, and we were pretty close to Boulder, we decided to try to make it. We’d take side streets and do our best. Worst case? We broke down somewhere and had to call for help. Unfortunately, we got caught by a train and then had to get back on the highway for about 6 miles. We ended up driving in the emergency lane the whole way, with hazards on. It was pretty nerve-wracking! But we made it–only 3 minutes late.
While I was in with my appointment, my roomie went across the street to a mechanic to see if they could figure out the issue and to determine if it was dangerous. The tires were not gouged, luckily, but they were still a bit low. The nice peeps at the garage put more air in it and said it might be a wheel or alignment issue. I asked roomie to contact my ex, too, since he’s a car guy. He thought there might be mud caked on the undercarriage, so we went to a car wash and tried to blast off the considerable mud we did indeed see.
That didn’t work either. My ex seemed pretty confident that the whole thing probably wouldn’t kill us, so we decided to try to make it home using side streets, to keep us under 40 mph. On the way back, we stopped for booze and protein drinks. Then we ended up at a pumpkin patch. And got stung by nettles.
And then we made the harrowing trip home. Even side street require 45 mph, so it was a bit rough. We laughed about it, but–man–I was SO HAPPY to get home. When we got home, we swapped our car for another one and decided against our planned trip to Vail today.
Looking back now? I think the universe was not-so-subtly trying to tell me to slow the hell down. The cold/flu thing didn’t work, so a slow-ass car was thrown at me. Nice.
We made it home in one piece, thankfully. That trip is one for the memory books, for sure.
(I’ll post pics later, maybe).