I have been told by my adoring public (that would be my Mum and my husband) that it is about time I do another blog post.
The problem is that after the big triumph of the milk post I have found that I don’t have much to say.
No, to tell the truth, I’ve just been a bit busy/tired/argh but I’m sure I can squeeze out a post for all two of my adoring public 🙂
Actually, one thing I have spent the last two weeks doing has been tying myself in knots of guilt for absolutely no reason. (OK, I thought there was a reason but it turns out, not so much.)
I read an interesting article the other day – 11 Things every ‘Type A’ person wants you to know. I didn’t know I was a Type A until I read this list. I know it’s not a definitive personality test and that I shouldn’t read too much into it but some things in this list are definitely me. I’m goal oriented and competitive, I live by to-do lists (even my relaxation is guided by to-do lists) and if I commit to something, then I am committed.
But as I am growing older (and hopefully more mature) I have found that my energy and resources have limits and they are hard limits. I should not push myself beyond them. And lately, I pushed myself very nearly to the limit. It wasn’t good and I knew I needed time to recover. I wanted to take the time to recover but that meant that I couldn’t take part in something I had committed to. And when I commit, I commit. But… The LIMITS! …I hope you can see my problem.
What I did about this dilemma was daft. I decided not to go to the event that I had committed to (which was the right decision) and instead I wrapped myself in a blanket of guilt for two or three days and felt horrible about my life (which was a wrong decision).
As well as the blanket of guilt I felt about letting others down, I also decided that others must be at fault. That is, I thought the situation wasn’t bad enough and by deciding what others were thinking of me I could make it much worse. And for some reason I thought that made sense.
So I made up little comments that I was convinced others were thinking. And I had those invisible arguments with them – you know the ones where you put in all the bits you would say, and then all the bits they would say as well, and it all gets very heated, and then you win.
I rehearsed over and over again in my mind all the ways I was hard done by. And then I felt guilty for doing that too – I know that’s not the way we are supposed to live. Feeling sorry for myself should be an indictable offence when I am blessed as much as I am in my life.
But telling myself that didn’t work this time. Trying to force gratitude, or think on other things or live in the moment – it was working a bit but it wasn’t working well.
I went around and around, digging deeper and deeper until Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday afternoon there was a meeting of all the lovely people that I had been having the invisible arguments with. At the meeting I laid out everything I was feeling, got it all out into the light. And those lovely people did not say all the things I had heard in the invisible arguments, but they instead told me that they totally understood. Suddenly the guilt fog cleared and I could breathe again and realise that those limits I have put on myself are good, right and warranted and that others were fine with me living by my limits.
Now this has happened to me before. I have had very long invisible arguments with my long-suffering husband, with my parents, with my children. I am learning albeit slowly to stop with the mental treadmill and actually talk to the people concerned (using ‘I feel’ statements and being non-judgemental and all that). I hate arguments and, honestly, would prefer to do them all inside my head than to actually confront someone. But as much as I would love to think it, I will never know what someone else is thinking unless I ask them to tell me.
If you are in the middle of an invisible argument with someone, can I encourage you to get it out into the light and see if it shrivels to nothing in the process? I know that many situations are more complex than my little fight with non-existent guilt (and there are counsellors and people to help in those situations) but I’m sure that there are others out there who are similar to me and I would love for you to feel the freedom I feel right now.
And if you’re a Type A who has just put your sanity before your commitments, I say ‘Congratulations!’ Hopefully we can all find a more balanced and sane life as we keep working on our little character flaws.