Often when we spend a lot of time with people, and especially if we live with them, we come to be able to predict how they will behave in certain circumstances. We all know the person in the office best avoided until after they have had their first coffee,for instance. We also know who will be the one to upend the Monopoly board on Christmas night, and who will always try to be the peace maker.
Lately, I have started to wonder why I seem to be quite unable to make these connections with myself. When I start to behave irrationally or feel like I am unraveling, I don’t seem to have the same internal index cards to tell me this is what I always do when the stars align in this way.
Let me tell you what I mean. Regular readers will know that I am currently doing a management development course though work. 30% of the course mark is for a 5,000 work project, due in a couple of weeks. The majority of the remaining marks are for an exam at the end of November. Throughout my accountancy career, I have done more exams than I care to remember and I test reasonably well, so the exam part wasn’t really stressing me too much. The project, on the other hand, was a completely different story.
For a lot of reasons, I was getting totally in my head about it. I haven’t written anything academic in about 15 years, so to say I was rusty was an understatement. Also, a large portion of the project was to be made up of a case study based around work. I have only been in my job for a little over a year, and I have only been managing people for a few months. I felt distinctly unqualified to write about it.
After weeks of procrastinating and “researching” I eventually decided to put pen to paper last weekend. The week in work leading up to it had been hair raising, so as is often the case with me, the timing wasn’t exactly perfect. I spent a few hours working on it on Saturday and another couple on Sunday morning. By midday on Sunday, I felt like I had made a good start, but was starting to go a little stir crazy. Errands needed to be run, and it was a good excuse to get away from the desk for a little while, so off I went.
First up was the pet shop for food for Annie and then to the grocery store for food for the humans. I had been feeling a little funky all morning, it was hard to put my finger on it, but I just didn’t feel like myself. I got the dog food and loaded it into the car, and the next thing I knew, I was in floods of tears. Now, I am not talking Cheryl Cole crystal tears, I am talking huge, wracking sobs. Let me paint the picture for you. There I was, sitting in the car park of the pet shop, wearing huge sunglasses (thank God I had them) wiping my tears in a pashmina (note to self, always carry a hanky!) For a good twenty minutes, I sat there, totally inconsolable. The really crazy thing is, had anyone asked me at the time what was wrong with me, I would have surely sobbed “I don’t know!”
The truth of it is, I really didn’t know. This made me feel both very stupid and more than little nuts. I mean, grown women aren’t supposed to do this! Surely I should be able to run some simple errands without being reduced to a puddle of snot? What the hell was wrong with me? Was I truly losing my mind?
The whole rest of that evening, I felt awful. Like I was suffering some terrible, nameless grief. I tried to nap, but couldn’t sleep. It seemed as though anything I tried to make myself feel better, just made things worse. Eventually, I gave up trying and put myself to bed. Something amazing happened. I slept. I woke the next morning feeling like myself again, and apart from the embarrassment, there were no lingering affects from the day before.
It was only in the days that followed did I start to join the dots. I began to remember I ALWAYS DO THIS! I always take on a lot and hold onto everything so tightly, that when the pressure eventually releases, I fall apart a little. The release of the tension of getting my project underway was so great, that it manifested itself physically. I wish that I had been able to identify what was happening that day, so perhaps I could have avoided fearing I was losing my mind, on top of everything else!
I guess the truth of it is, when we look at other people the distance allows for perspective. When we look at ourselves, this perspective will only ever come with time. The best thing we can do for ourselves is be honest with those around us, so even if we are ill equipped to recognise what is going on with us, at least they will know! I am not saying that if someone had told me last Sunday “Arwen, you always do this” it would have helped me hold it together, but maybe I would have felt like I wasn’t going through it alone.
I am very pleased to report that the project is just about finished. Just as well, because I don’t want to have to find another pet shop! Be well xxx