Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Now I Am Prime Again

A year ago today, I was returning from riding roller coasters with my best friend, musing on what it really means to be an adult.  The entire notion that because of the hard work and effort I'd put into building a career and a community and structures and relationships, my fortieth birthday literally meant turning a profit riding roller coasters because it cost me less than a day's wages to do so, has colored my year.

The last ten years, more than anything, have been spent building.  Building communities, building trust, building relationships.  Growing into my own identity as a priestess, as a counselor, as a friend, as a woman.

The hardest lesson in these ten years is that though my choices have far-reaching effects, my power stops at the ends of my arms.  If it's not within my control, then it's a variable beyond my influence.

It's hard to watch someone you love struggle through unhappiness, unable to help him figure out the key, that it has to start in your heart and move outwards, because no amount of pressure will drive it in to your core.  I see people I love moving towards what look like painful life lessons, and I can only point and call out, "Mind that first step, there."  Sometimes I can't even do that, because they're so well-shielded against anything that will crack the facade of bitterly determined vengeful happiness they're forging.

It's hard to watch communities tear at themselves, and be unable to stop them because patterns of hate lie like railroad tracks, driving people inexorably towards conflict.  To hope desperately that common sense will prevail, as reason shatters upon the rocks.

It's hard to see people grinding themselves to nothing in the name of justice, compassion, and mercy, because there is so much work and it will never be done in our lifetimes but we cannot stop trying.  To watch hearts break as hope fails, and to work to gather the pieces and begin to build with what can be salvaged.

That little voice that tells me to take up arms and rise against the windmills that plague others has been a guiding force of my life, and it's only really been this year that I see:  It drives me to their battles to avoid acknowledging my own.

I can't say what's triggered this self-knowledge, this realisation that I must, in the next ten years, begin to get a real handle on the lessons I can use with my own two hands to keep my own life at the center of my priorities, but it's been a strong and powerful month.

A while ago, I began the process of reclaiming my life, of pulling back into control and learning to focus my energies on what feeds me in some way.  And this process of building a life outside of meeting the needs of others has been ongoing for about three years now.  But I see now that the realisations I thought were answers were only the beginning of a thousand more questions.

The first question I am asking, the one it is hardest to face, is "What can I build that serves me alone, that does not benefit me as a side effect of serving someone else?"

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Standing Down and Pulling Back

I am...overcommitted.

That's putting it lightly, in fact.  I'm deeply overcommitted and I've been pulling energy from my future by skipping sleep or putting off necessary tasks, borrowing against tomorrow and then tomorrow again when the day comes due.

Right now it's not at a danger point.  I haven't run myself down to the place where Traitor Brain starts to sound reasonable, but it's been getting there these last few months.  I've actually done a few things in the last couple of days that have silenced a large chunk of personal anxiety and stress.  There are a few large frogs on the horizon to be eaten, and then I should be able to have a serious quantity of ammunition for silencing the voice of doubt and self-destruction.

Part of the problem is that I don't want to give up any commitments.  I love the Dionysium and I like my job and I love the stuff I do for CMA and I get so much out of my two D&D games and Ingress and everything else, but I find myself finishing a load of laundry at 1:30 in the morning because one of the cats, motivated either by missing a few days (OK, a week) of litterbox scooping or anxiety over me being gone so much of the time, has started peeing on important things.

My problem isn't a problem; my life is a glorious buffet of interesting, wonderful people and activities.  I just need to go on a bit of a diet, activity-wise (note to self: we were going to find time to work out).

I'm not asking for help, necessarily.  I'm asking for patience and understanding.

Please keep inviting me to stuff.  A couple of people have told me recently "We didn't invite you, though we really wanted you to come, because you're so busy and we know you've been tired."  This level of opportunity for interaction isn't going to change.  There will always be five excellent things to do every day, and only time to do ten things a week.  I need to learn to balance that myself, and the only way to do that is for me to start learning to turn down invitations that sound really wonderful but that I just can't reasonably do.  I've begun it, but I'm not 100% (hell, I'm not 25%).  But let me sort out my priorities and activities as I can.

Please understand if you invite me and I tell you I can't make it, even if you know I'm not busy or doing anything that day.  The bathtub has to get scrubbed sometime, you know?  And some days I just need to sit on the couch and watch Netflix or DVDs, or sleep in and read.

Please, even though it's not the politest thing for me to do, understand if I flake off on social stuff at the last minute.  Sometimes I commit to a thing because it sounds SO AWESOME but I completely didn't think about the thing I was doing across town until 20 minutes before it.  A couple of times recently I've dragged myself to something I just had no energy for doing, because the *people* involved in it were people I care about and want to spend time with.  I need to stop doing that, and that's no one's responsibility or fault but mine.

Lastly, I'm still an extrovert.  I still require substantive human contact.  But for a little while, I'm going to need to be less proactive about initiating that contact, while I sort out my activities and priorities.  If you don't hear from me, don't assume I don't care or don't want to see you.  I'm just out of bandwidth for reaching out and I'm trying to balance things.  Feel free to give me a call or ping me in chat; work is intermittently slow these days so I often have time to talk during the day.

I just keep telling myself this backing off isn't permanent, that I'm not giving up anything; I just need, for myself, a little more balance and a little more focus on maintaining life stuff.

I love you all.