I think it’s funny that we try to outsmart exhaustion. With willpower. With coffee. With stubbornness. I didn’t take a break between the end of Old Job and beginning of New Job. Instead of saying no I said yes to a houseful of company for the weekend so I didn’t even get a regular weekend’s worth of rest. I ended my Old Job exhausted. I started my New Job exhausted. By the end of the first day of New Job I had a raging headache.
I carried on with all my regularly scheduled activities, getting to bed late, not eating well, making it all worse. I did not compensate for the added stress of new job training by scaling back everything else. I did not compensate for the time sacrificed to commuting. I edited out nothing; just compressed it all into a shorter span and kept grinding. That headache raged on for four more days. All week long. By the time Saturday rolled around I was beyond exhausted but I got up early for tennis anyway. Thirty minutes into practice I broke down crying for no reason. I was crying from exhaustion.
Nothing was wrong. Nothing was injured. I had nothing to cry about, other than the fact my week-long headache was a signal I ignored until my emotional stamina was tapped out. All the way out. They told me at New Job I mastered in one week a process which typically takes new hires a full month to learn. And while that sounds like praise, I paid a price for it. On day six of this week of massive learning, assimilating, and failing to ease back on the overall life throttle, I slammed into an ugly cry.
Monday: Throb. Throb. Throb.
Tuesday: Help. Help. Help.
Wednesday: Stop. Stop. Stop.
Thursday: Please. Please. Please.
Friday: Mayday. Mayday. Mayday.
Saturday: Crash. Burn. Sob. Sob. Sob.
Self-inflicted meltdown I could have prevented. And I know better. This is yet another reason why we call a wellness practice a practice.
When my practice partner suggested I go home and withdraw from human interaction for the remainder of the day and DO NOTHING but rest, I ordered up the But I can’t! excuse and prepared to list all the reasons why. But there was an intervention. A small part of the practice paid off. Before I let it out of my mouth I realized But I can’t was a lie. It wasn’t true. If I had a friend weeping from weariness I would patiently and compassionately blow the bullshit whistle on But I can’t and argue for rest.
I’d tough-love immediate rest to the top of her priorities and tolerate no objections.
Then I’d comfort and pamper and nurture and help her help herself back to better.
Why wouldn’t I do this for myself? Why can’t I be my friend? In fact, I should be more than my friend. Shouldn’t I take myself home and offer myself a modicum (or more) of tenderness I’d offer to any one of my friends? Shouldn’t I have done that from the start?
I will. I can. I am. I should. Yes, I should have.
So I went home and did all the things which typically trigger guilt because we are conditioned to overachieving and undervaluing rest. Netflix was involved. Cell phone banished to another room. Salt. Sofa. Scent. No one dying of undone things.
Yes, my new job is going great because I absolutely killed it this week. That’s the truth. I was a rockstar this week. Back in the day we used to say Hot Shit, as in Mercy is Hot Shit, and it was a compliment like Badass. But then there’s the rest of the truth; that I was callous with my wellness. With me. And I didn’t have to be. I ignored my own distress calls and went balls to the wall for no good reason than to prove something which didn’t need to be proved in a week. I was Hot Shit with a side of bullshit. And I don’t have to be. So the practice begins again.