Last week, Eli was gone. For five days…plus an extra Delta day. But I had a plan. I was going to WERK. “Channel it. Into your work. Into work.” That was my plan, and then I burned out.
At the beginning of the week I was like- I am a queen. By Wednesday I was like- I am dying. On that day, my “day off,” I tried to do too much. To be fair, I did it all, but by the end of the day my thumbs had checked things off the to-do list, but my poor brain hadn't caught up yet. I found myself wishing I had a Pensieve to empty my mind.
I discovered that it's extraordinarily hard to “channel it” when your outlet is gone. Usually I can channel anything into art. Deep sadness? Art. Anger? Art. Hunger? Art. This week though, my loneliness did not get turned into art, because my loneliness meant my overwhelmed-ness was compounded and I could barely do anything. I found it hard to channel my feelings into my work, because the channels were all blocked. Blocked by loneliness, blocked by anger, blocked by annoyance, blocked by stress. I didn't have my vent, so it built up and up and up until... I got a pounding headache. And then I was able to do even less. I watched The Mindy Project and packed books and tried to do the most I possibly could with each day. But the most you possibly can do isn't always the best idea. It's better to do the majority of what you can and leave some room for rest, so the next day you can do more, instead of burning out on day 1. I’m not really good at that. I’m good at burning myself out.
Here's the thing about being on your own. Fortunately, there's no one there to tell you what to do. There's no one there to say, "you shouldn't watch The Mindy Project and do art on your lunch break!" (Good. Cause that was a dope idea.) There's no one there to say, "Don't get drunk in your kitchen and dance to Beyoncé.” (GOOD. BECAUSE THAT WAS A GREAT IDEA.) And unfortunately, there's no one there to tell you what to do. No one to tell you what to do when your head starts pounding and your heart follows suit and you don't know what to prioritize first because it all seems important so it's all too much.
What worries me is, I did do a lot this week. I worked my typical 35 hour schedule (9:30-5 5 days a week), while also packing a significant portion of my room into boxes, bringing those boxes to a storage unit (and getting the storage unit OPEN on my own), starting and completing an art project in like 3 days, watching 26 episodes of The Mindy Project in 6 (Come on. That is an accomplishment!), having two school-related meetings, getting essays done, writing outlines, making videos and blog posts for myself, and sleeping. And I completed all that under the stress of only being able to talk to my significant other for ten minutes a day. (Usually at the end of the day, when I was so worn out and moody and sleepy I wasn’t really capable of being nice to myself, let alone him.) I did all that, and I couldn’t see it, so it therefore wasn’t enough for me. I felt like I had failed to take advantage of my week to WERK.
At the end of it all, when Eli finally got home, I was so worn out and strung out and wired and exhausted that I pretty much just crashed. We had a great reunion, don’t get me wrong, but I definitely fell asleep, hard, for a portion of it. Let me make this make sense to you— I do not ever fall asleep watching TV. That is blasphemous to me. This weekend, I did it two days in a row. Full on passed OUT in front of Bojack Horseman. Eli tried to act like he wasn’t disappointed, but I think he was a little bit. I mean, we had plans, and I snored and drooled all over them. But I guess that’s what I mean. I’m not very good to myself sometimes. I don’t forgive myself for falling asleep when I need to be doing other things. Actually, it doesn’t even get that far. I don’t even let myself fall asleep when I need to be doing other things. The reason Eli is so important to me, so important to my life, is not because I am some needy girl who can't do anything without her boyfriend. I can do it all on my own, but my brain likes to trick me into thinking that I've done nothing. He helps me see it. He is patient and kind and forgiving with me. And when we are together, we are a little better to ourselves, because all either of us wants is to be good to each other.
This week I thought a lot about a particular quote from a Conor Oberst song I’ve been listening to on repeat. "And if you don't collide with the traffic in your mind / I think you'll find your way out of this / I hope you find your way out of this." Every time I heard it, it stopped me in my tracks. Holy shit, I thought. How does he know about the traffic in my mind? How did he word it so perfectly? F***, has Conor Oberst bugged my brain? Anyway, I’m working on it, Conor. I’m working on being better to myself. I’m learning how from a really great human being. And I hope one day to find my way out of the maze of traffic in my mind.