“You Do Enough.”
This is my therapist’s message in our recent sessions. On one hand, I see where she’s coming from. On the other hand , I don’t get it.
I have such a strong desire to always do, see, know, and understand “more” that I can’t imagine ever doing “enough.” I have a go-to method I have always thought would get me to balance in my life: addition.
When I wanted direction, I added meditation and self-reflection to my routine. When I realized I had too much work and not enough play, I simply added in play. Then I wanted to improve my physical health, so I added exercise, research, and lots of time for food shopping and cooking. I wanted to improve my mental and emotional health, so I added in therapy. I wanted to go back to school, so I added in classes. I wanted to meet more people, so I added dozens of groups. I wanted to get past my trauma, so I added writing my story of closure and healing.
Then I had so much going on, I just “had” to add in time hyper-organizing and keeping my home clean. (What can I say? Files make me happy.) I felt disconnected from my family, so I added time dedicated to developing those relationships with phone conversations, travel and written correspondence.
How much can I really add into the right hand side of the equation? I’ve thought of the equation in terms of the limits to what I can add, and I decided I didn’t want any limits. Life = work + play +introspection + meditation + exercise + therapy + school + writing + publishing + family + hyper-organizing + + +
Even though I love, love, love everything I do, I have apparently taken for granted two important components of the life equation: rest and sleep. (Yes, I even love the homework, especially when my teachers gush over the meticulous presentation of my assignments.) I guess I shouldn’t have focused solely on the limits, but should have considered the global minimums.
I know what sleep is, and honestly I have avoided it as much as I could in the past six years. Before that, while I was married, I slept as much as I could. It was my safest escape. I had shut down any dreaming and just experienced nothing between bedtime and morning. (I know there’s a lot of science around whether or not I was actually not dreaming, or if I was just not “remembering” my dreams, but as far as my awareness is concerned, I had dreamless sleep.)
I developed frequent night terrors when the PTSD set in after I left my ex-husband, and that helps me downplay my need for sleep still. I hardly have the night terrors any more. They come mainly in clusters after a triggering event.
The concept of rest still trips me up. My internal dialogue goes in circles something like this: “You mean rest my math brain by writing? I could, I suppose, also rest my writing brain with some math homework. How about resting my social brain by staying in and doing solo work? Can I rest my alone-time brain by going out? I’ll rest my school brain with work and my work brain with school.” I’ve basically convinced myself that everything I do is some form of rest. Rest, in my mind, is doing something.
Help a Lady Out
Do you get enough sleep and enough rest? Do you know how to rest, or are you driven to constant action? Teach me! I’d love to hear below what rest means to you. It’s an important lesson, and I want to learn.
Rebecca encourages survivors of domestic to speak about their experiences and to lean on each other for support.