Now: rest

by gigigriffis
Vila do Conde, Portugal

First, a confession: it’s been an intense, difficult few months. 

A few months of unexpected battles with people determined to do the wrong thing. A few months of working so hard that I injured my neck and shoulder so badly that one morning I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get out of bed. Then: physiotherapy. Then: more physiotherapy. A few months of nothing quite going right, from mysteriously astronomical electric bills to deliveries that never arrived to an entire wall of outlets in my apartment that simply did not work for a month. 

While a lot of this was happening, I was handling it. Rushing to hit impossible deadlines. Bending over backward to wait in my apartment for a delivery multiple days in a row. Frustrated, but moving. Energized. Pushing forward.

Then, I met the biggest deadline. Delivered the big kahuna. Finalized the project that had punched me (almost literally) in the neck.

And I crashed.

Suddenly, my energy levels tanked. My mood plummeted. I cried in frustration over tiny things: a last-minute cancellation by my cleaner, Ikea mysteriously cancelling my order after I waited for four hours for it to arrive, an internet stranger’s unkindness, an accidental snub.

As soon as I no longer had to push through, my body and mind screamed Enough. Enough pushing. Enough running. Enough handling things.

Rest.

Rest.

Rest.

It wasn’t an intellectual decision. In fact, my utterly destroyed energy levels and dark moods scared me. Panicked me, even. Sleeping 10+ hours can be a warning sign of my depression. Sluggish movements made me afraid my iron might be low. My anxiety and OCD ticked upward, never a good sign.

I scheduled therapy. I got myself allergy meds in case springtime pollen was partly to blame. And I turned to my normal coping mechanisms: self-kindness, sunshine, a ruthlessly pared-back work schedule. I went back to taking my Fridays off. I asked for an extension on a client deadline for the first time in a long while. I adhered to my physio stretching schedule with religious devotion. 

But for weeks, I was tired. The bone-deep, moving-slower, brain-fog, teary-eyed kind of tired. The kind of tired that makes it feel like you’re walking through water instead of air.

And even though I had a suspicion that my body was simply asking me for rest, it was scary.

It is scary.

Scary not to feel like myself. Scary not to have the energy for the long hike or the dance or the day trip. Scary to need a nap so badly I felt heavy in the middle of the day.

It took weeks to make small gains, to start to see the sun peeking through the proverbial clouds. But then, one day last week, I felt a little more myself. And the next day, again, a little more. 

And so still I rest. Commit to taking no new clients this quarter. Give myself permission to spend an hour on my balcony in the morning simply soaking up sun. No to-do list in the background. Nap. Sleep in. Eat well. Stretch. Breathe.

Breathe.

Breathe.

It’s yet another reminder that I don’t work part-time simply because I prefer it (though I do). I do it because I can’t sustain more. I do it to save myself. 

And so I’m easing back into my version of normal. No technology Fridays. Fifteen to 25-hour workweeks. I’m not quite back to the energetic parts: the long hikes, the dancing in my apartment. But we’ll get there, too.

For now: I rest.

In the sun. In my apartment. In Guimarães. Curled around a sleeping dog who smells faintly of shampoo.

If the winter hasn’t treated you particularly nicely either, well, hello there, twin. I hope you get to rest as well. I wish for you sunshine on patios, long naps, and a soul that grows ever more soothed.

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8 comments

Ali May 9, 2022 - 7:52 am

Yeah, totally how it works, that the moment you don’t HAVE to keep it all together, everything crashes down on you. I’m glad you’re giving yourself some much needed rest.

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Rebecca May 9, 2022 - 11:50 am

I hope you are feeling better now. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others like clients, and your sweet dog. I hope that the apartment outlets and deliveries have sorted themselves out.

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Emily Peppers May 9, 2022 - 12:11 pm

Thanks for sharing. I so relate, and I’m sure many of your readers do too! I listened to a podcast about how tricky it is to find that zone between not pushing ourselves enough (so we never grow) and pushing ourselves too much (so we break). It’s so difficult, especially when so many goals are positive things in and of themselves (traveling to new places, big athletic or health endeavors, career-related or academic projects, etc.). So glad you’re getting back to a place of better balance, and congrats on that “big kahuna” project!!!!

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gigigriffis May 10, 2022 - 12:19 am

<3

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Maria Ayres May 9, 2022 - 2:07 pm

I do payroll taxes and W2s. I manage the company’s states and local taxes; 206 jurisdiction. I collapse towards the end of April. then all of a sudden I can’t keep awake, I nap and it is hard to put on foot in front of the other. Take the time to rejuvenate yourself. I am glad you can take the time and I am sure Luna is too.

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gigigriffis May 10, 2022 - 12:19 am

Oh yeah, I bet! I’m sure that’s intense.

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Judy May 9, 2022 - 8:40 pm

I hope you have some companionship so you can sound off your thoughts. Does living in a foreign country make it harder to connect and feel comfortable when sharing? For isntance, are there “public” resources to which you can talk to someone? Or, do you have to be a citizen to tap into “help sessions” ? Because of language barriers, I would need an English speaking person just to chat . . . to talk about jobs, bike riding, grocery markets, life, politics, my family, – – – Do you ever give thought about returning to America, or is that a nasty word to bring up? With a language barrier, I probably would be slow in finding a “good friend” to call up to share a cup of coffee with me. Judy

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gigigriffis May 10, 2022 - 12:21 am

Hi Judy! You’re right that it’ll take awhile for me to become more conversational in Portuguese, but actually English is widely spoken, especially by the younger generation, and there are a lot of international folks here as well (and English tends to be the most common language in that group as well). It’ll take some time to make very close, deep friendships, of course, but it has been relatively easy to meet people and start to develop community. <3

And no - no US for me. Europe is my home. :)

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