Survival Mode

I have had minimal desire to listen to music at all this week. I sought out some Ed Sheeran on Tuesday morning, but for the most part I’ve preferred silence.

This week has been challenging across the board. Family stresses have been high. Relationships have gone through learning curves and periods of growth which are necessary and beneficial, but also very emotional. I’ve had a full schedule at my new job, where I’m trying to absorb so much information that I leave the building feeling heavy and overloaded. On top of that, I’m planning a pretty big and important event for this weekend. I’m also waiting (im)patiently to find out if there is an empty room in my friend’s apartment for me to move into.

I enjoy being busy. I enjoy tackling challenges and I am okay with letting things happen in due time. But right now I’m feeling like the heavy end of a ship- like everything is falling onto me and my only option is to bear it, wait for the tide to turn and for things to balance out again.

I’d like to blame the universe: Mercury is in retrograde and I honestly don’t know what that means, but I’m told it can cause things to feel out of whack. I want to say it’s Mercury’s fault, but in all honesty, there’s nothing and nobody to blame. This is how life goes sometimes.

The challenges I’ve been facing at work seem to link with several of the other difficulties that I’d been having as the week progressed. A tumultuous weekend at home left me feeling really insecure about my ability to be an effective therapist. If I can’t handle myself well in the midst of conflict at home, how can I handle myself well in the midst of conflict at work?

The anxiety that stemmed from that insecurity had a ripple effect on how I handled a conversation with my boyfriend, Ben, which happened to be about my anxiety. My defenses were down and I was extremely vulnerable. My ability to communicate my feelings and accept advice was skewed, which created frustration and tension that amplified the negative feelings all over again.

It took me two days to compose myself and figure out how to explain my perspective, make amends, and for Ben and I to come to a place of understanding. I have yet to make amends and come to a place of understanding with my family members at home. I don’t feel ready or able to do that yet.

As my brother told me the other day, “sometimes we don’t have the capacity to handle the things we love.”

The stress that my body was holding onto from Sunday and Monday grew so large that the only thing I could handle for much of this week was work. I let my personal conflicts simmer on the back burner while I did what I had to do at my job. It was like I went into survival mode, handling what I had to handle and pushing everything else aside.

Somewhere along the way, music became something I felt like I needed to push aside, too.

Music is always my friend. It’s always on my side. It always understands me. And yet, I couldn’t handle it. Though it happens from time to time, the feeling is always unsettling. It’s like I’m turning my back on something that I rely on and turn to in any situation.

In the same way I wasn’t open to accepting Ben’s advice, it felt like I wasn’t open to accepting advice from my music. I felt so defensive and scattered that music couldn’t even put me back together. Instead, I spent many drives in silence, allowing myself to feel a full gamut of emotions, being aware of my feelings and confronting the thoughts that were swirling around in my head.

It was exhausting.

I can’t say that I’ve completely bounced back from things yet. I felt a huge release after resolving things with Ben, and am still navigating the dynamics of things at home. I’m sure I will continue to gain clarity as time goes on, but here’s where I’m at right now: I need to be included in the “things I love” category.

I’m still working to maintain my self-care schedule, but I’m also used to being good at juggling a lot at once. I’m used to being able to compartmentalize and handle one thing at a time. I’m not used to turning the focus completely inwards to the point where I “neglect” the people and things I love. But that’s what I needed.

I didn’t have the capacity to deal with all of the little tornados spiraling around me. I didn’t even have the capacity to deal with the messages that music has to offer. I really had to find answers within myself.

Going into survival mode and putting myself first gave me room to breathe. It allowed me to take a step back and turn the tornados into small gusts, ones that were much easier to manage. I think that if I had tried to handle the external conflicts too quickly, I would’ve added fuel to the fire and made things worse. I’m glad my survival instincts kicked in and made me retreat, reflect, regroup, and revisit things.

In order to handle the things we love, sometimes we need to take care of ourselves first.

How do you mentally regroup from a challenging experience?
Share your comments at the bottom of the page.

Whatismyhealth © 2017