So this week I discovered that I am actually capable of what my therapist told me to try last week. Which was: take the pressure off yourself to get so much done, and see if it all still gets done anyway. This should have been a no-brainer for me. Of COURSE it will still get done! I should have thought. I didn’t. It was so hard for me to let go of the worry and anxiety this week, and trust that it would still get done in the end. But you know what? It DID. I realized that worrying in my down time doesn’t make the work get done any faster, it only makes me more exhausted by the time I have time to work. So I can’t do work. So, in essence, worrying about being productive makes me LESS productive. And I know what you might be thinking: But Fran, duh! Worrying gets you nowhere. Just relax and chill out! And to that I would say: HA. Because sure, I learned a valuable lesson about behavioral tricks this week. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still have anxiety. Anxiety means that all of my efforts are just that— efforts. Sure, they can help to rewire my brain and combat the negativity up there, but in the end, my anxiety is still gonna do what it wants to do sometimes.
With anxiety, if it’s not one thing it’s another. Sure, I got a lot of work done this week. I made progress on my projects for my drawing class, and felt good about the other work I am doing. But I still feel bad and guilty and anxious about not being a better friend this week, sometimes, all the time. But the difference is, I now know that worrying about it isn’t going to change anything. That doesn’t mean I don’t still worry. This kind of ingrained behavior doesn’t go away overnight. But I now have a little voice in the back of my head telling me to relax, it’s okay, it’ll all be fine.
Yoga this week taught me just as much. As I stretched and twisted my body, and felt the pain that comes with not doing yoga for a while, I realized that this pain so obviously symbolizes life. You feel the pain, but it will pass. And learning that fact (“it will pass”) is one of the most valuable lessons, and something that will get you through both yoga and life. The thing is, when I feel pain my brain is like “UUUUUM bitch you are gonna die if you don’t end this right now.” So I panic and stop whatever I’m doing that’s causing me pain instead of working, pushing, breathing through it. I was afraid I was going to do that with Eli, with this job, with my apartment. But I haven’t, and my life is so much better, so much more as a result.
Full disclosure, I still freaked out a little bit this week too. (You win some and you lose some.) Long story short, I watched my favorite movie (Amelie), and wigged out about the fact that I was nostalgic for her lost-ness, for her alone-ness. I worried that my wanting alone-ness meant I no longer loved Eli, and then my brain got out of control. It went haywire. I quite literally pushed Eli away, had a total meltdown, cried myself to sleep, woke up and cried some more. Then I sent him a lengthy, completely insane message that was full of my fear and anxiety and sadness. To which he replied, “Ok Fran.. you can do whatever you need to and I will understand- go see your mom, just lay there alone for today, go drive by yourself, idk whatever you need. But all I can say / all I know is this:
I love you, I love coming home to you, I love when you come home to me, I love "seeing the world" with YOU, I *love when we figure out an argument and solve the problem together and it's all 100% ok, I love being with you.”
Yeah. I f*cking know. He’s a goddamn unicorn. Always has been, always will be. Another thing my therapist recommended last week was composed of two simple words. “Trust. Eli.” Which is admittedly hard for me, despite the fact that he’s wonderful, because I am hard-wired to believe that I am the only one who can (and should) fix my problems. I’m the only one who will have the right solution. That, my friends, is called a control freak. I am one. But the difference now is, I’m trying not to be.
Finally, before and after all this learning, I had a breakthrough. I realized on Tuesday that the reason I've felt unhappy, unfulfilled, and like I haven't been taking care of myself, is that I haven't been doing creative things for me. If you don't know, that's an enormous part of my personality. I'm the kind of person who's always doing a lot. That's just how I work. But lately, my time has been not-so-equally split between: work, schoolwork, and time with Eli and friends. Let me put this plainly: I HAVE NOT BEEN WRITING. I have not been CREATING. That's like...Beyonce not working on an album. It's just not good for anyone involved. So in a crazy leap of faith, I joined NaNoWriMo at the last second. Let me be clear: I'm not doing NaNoWriMo as it is usually done. I'm not writing 50,000 words and striving for 1,667 per day. But I've made it a priority to work on my in-progress novel, and give it the time, energy, and thought it deserves. Because not working on it has made me feel worse than the effort of finding time for it has. Another thing: Eli and I discovered that we like to read together. I think the problem I've been having is that the past year of our relationship has been so environmentally rocky. By that I mean, we've never known when we would see each other next, or if we were able to: where we would even spend time together. Now, knowing that we always have a place to come home to and relax and be together is so relieving, we almost don't know what to do with it. It's going to take us some time to get used to this. To relax, and realize that we have all the time in the world. This week, we tried that. We laid on my bed and he listened to an audiobook while I read The Walking Dead. And it was amazing! Uncovering this new element of our relationship, discovering that we can want to be together all the time, but that doesn't mean we have to talk or really even engage with each other the whole time. We can just sit next to each other and READ. What a freaking revelation.
I know this blog post probably isn't perfect. But I'm trying to let go of the need for perfection. I'm trying to sink into the feeling that "it will pass." All of it. The bad, and the good. It will pass, and my challenge is to remain present and here through it all.