When you unpack your overnight bag at the hotel and realize that you forgot to pack your pajamas, your phone charger, and a book (three things you never, ever forget), you finally realize that maybe, just maybe, you have finally managed to run yourself ragged.
For the past few weeks I have been exhausted both physically and mentally, so much so that my body keeps complaining with aches and pains in places I didn’t even know could hurt, and my brain seems to be suffering from serious hiccups where I forget things, can’t focus on anything long enough, and feel irritated about the most mundane, silly things ever. This early morning person is having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, not wanting to go out at all, and with tears always on the verge of falling. It is time to reassess my life.
As I sat at a booth in an outdoor craft fair all day yesterday, it hit me: I overdone it. I have ran myself to the ground one day at a time. It took me a few years to get here but apparently I’m no super woman after all. I do have limits.
For the past five or six years I have been juggling a full-time teaching job, serious family issues, and a writing career. I have published (both traditionally and self-published) a total of fifteen books (to be sixteen in just a few more days) and written a few more (at the time of this writing I have three more finished novels and one in progress). At times, I’ve been proud of myself for handling all of this so well, but more often than not I feel guilty that I haven’t done more. I see writer friends who publish books every other month and I blame myself for not being able to do the same.
In comes the inner critic, pointing its long finger. You’re lazy. You don’t manage your time right. You don’t need so many hours of sleep. And on and on and on…. So I add guilt and despondency to my already overpacked work bag.
I was also surprised by how well I handled this crazy pandemic year and how unaffected I was compared to a lot of other people. Except I was missing the point. It just hadn’t hit me yet. But for the past few weeks, as the school year came to a close, it smacked me hard, to the point of feeling physically sick and emotionally done.
I have pushed myself too hard and it shows. Thankfully, the craziest ever, most exhausting school year is over and I’m hoping to be able to rest and focus on the fun side of writing (with a side of not so fun marketing) without pushing myself to the edge. I also want to use these few weeks to minimize by uncluttering my work space and my house in general because order relaxes me.
So yesterday was my wakeup call, my take-it-easy warning. On Friday as I got home from the last day of school all I wanted to do was to lie down and sleep, but I had to pack to go to this event. It was like torture and I, as I mentioned before, forgot quite a few important items. I was so tired during the event that the fact I sold ONE book in eight hours didn’t even bother me (I guess I can count that as a positive side effect, lol). I was so exhausted that Southern pulled chicken swimming in BBQ sauce and beans cooked with brown sugar seemed to be a great choice for my low-carb diet. I was so colossally pooped that I couldn’t keep my eyes open by 9 PM and still couldn’t get out of bed this morning.
I’m taking this week off. It doesn’t mean I won’t do anything, but I decided to take it easy and not stress so much about all the deadlines hanging over my head (and there are a lot of them), my new release next weekend, or my diet. I’m going to take in as many yoga classes as I can, do my daily walks in the neighborhood, write, read, do things I enjoy, and just write and breathe.
Did you ever push yourself so hard you felt you were fragmented? What did you do to fix it?