Coming back from Phase to a month of continued holidays was an easy transition. This past month I have been back to work and finding the workload even greater than it has been in the past. I am also noticing that I am different in that place.
Work stress has always been a major factor in my life. When things pile up too much, I have given myself major migraines. Over the past few years, I have significantly reduced the number of migraines I have given myself. When life has become too much for me, I collapse with a migraine – only then allowing myself time to curl up in bed.
Last week, what with moving Wayne’s dad, Chuck, in combination with a busy time at work, I ended up with a migraine. I took a day off to move Chuck but headed back the next day to work. The day started with a headache that continued to develop into a migraine by late morning.
I decided to leave work at lunchtime. Before I left, I wanted to tell the teacher that I was working with that he would be on his own for the afternoon activity. I had to wait for a moment for him to return to the classroom. I found myself leaning against the wall of the hallway. I had an awareness that what I wanted to do more than anything else was to sit down on the floor and cry. Being who I am and given the situation, I decided not to do this. It was all I could do to hold back the tears.
The tears I had blocked were a result of the strains of the move along with the sadness of watching Chuck’s life shrink down to a space of a single room. Many of his possessions, which at one time seemed so important, were now being tossed aside. I felt sadness for Wayne’s dad as he sat back while someone sorted through his possessions, deciding the best way to dispose of them. I was almost motivated enough to come home and sort through my closets. (Almost!!)
Wayne had finished with his client when I came home so he did some Bodywork to get rid of my headache. I ended up in tears. This is not a usual outcome in Bodywork for me. I tend to have to work hard at allowing the tears to flow. I am aware of the strain around my eyes but I tend keep the area blocked.
I wondered at the moment that I stood in the school hallway how many migraines I have given myself over the years simply because I chose not to cry. I’m guessing that is true for most of them. I wonder in the future how many migraines I can avoid by allowing myself the opportunity to cry when I need to. This will require staying present in my body and being aware of this need to cry. I also will need to be gentle with myself and throw out the old learning that crying is not okay.
I learned very early in my life to block the tears. It was much easier to survive if I was simply quiet and hidden. Crying could get me into more trouble. I learned to see it as a sign of weakness. I did everything I could to keep myself from crying. I convinced myself that I was strong and I could take it all. That has done quite the number on my body.
Given the reality of education in Ontario at this time, there are fewer teachers in our school to do the same amount of work. This has increased everyone’s already busy workload. There is no way that I can complete all that is expected of me and do it all to the level of perfection that I may want to do things.
I can be my own worst enemy in this situation. In the past, I expected to be able to do it all and do it all well. If I was unable to do everything, then I was not a good teacher and I was not a good person. Somehow, I connected to this that nobody would like me if I were unable to be the best at everything I tried to do. I would continue to try to do it all until I reached the point of collapse. No wonder I have a problem with my blood pressure being so high.
My approach to all these stresses is different now that I have attended Phase. I am living more in the moment. In each moment, I examine my choices and make the best possible one for me at that given time. I am able to put aside all those other things that I am not working on. I’ve given up on spending so much time worrying about the things I’m not doing. Sometimes “good enough” is the best that I can do.
I have learned to live with the fact that I can’t do it all. This is not physically possible. Even making an attempt can be very damaging to my body. Worrying about all the things I have not done is counter productive. My old pattern was to work myself into quite the state – where it was impossible to get anything done.
Living in the moment simply means choosing one task from the pile in front of me. If there is one task that has to be done, then something else will have to be left undone. I’ve learned to let it all go. In the moment, I chose the best thing for me to focus on and leave every other task in the pile. When I am finished I move on. I am amazed at how much more I get done when I don’t spend so much time obsessing about not doing the task well enough or not getting some of the jobs done.
I continue to bring work home and I do spend long days working. In the end the decisions on how to spend my time are mine to make. When I need to do something for myself, I do it. When I need to sleep, I go to bed. I continue at home to make the best possible choice for me in the moment. I am responsible for my own choices and what they are doing to me. I continue to work hard at choosing not to worry about the things I am unable to do in the moment, and obsessing about whether or not the end result is “good enough.” The end result is I am getting more things done and I am feeling better about myself, and the choices I am making. More and more I am choosing to live in the moment and being aware.
In the end, I was my most critical judge. In most cases, nobody else cares. It was only I, giving myself a hard time. I was very good at that. When I stopped giving myself a hard time, I stopped giving myself headaches. I will continue to monitor how often the headaches happen. They will be my constant check on how well I am doing.