Never be afraid to just stop everything.
You may have built up a network of contacts, a circle of friends, a career, a whole pile of commitments and sometimes it’s just all too much but it also seems like it’s all too much to stop too. It’s a juggernaut pulling and pushing you ever forward, ever faster.
Running you over.
So, when a dozen more things suddenly come on top and you can’t cope you just struggle on under an unbearable load with knees buckling and everything spiralling out of control. So let’s just look at that last sentence again – “can’t cope” – this is one of those odd things we say but don’t think about too much, like “unsustainable”. It’s an absolute, either you can cope or you can’t; either it’s sustainable or it isn’t. When one gets to that point, one has to pause and say, “What? Can I really not cope with this?” and if the answer is “Yes” then stopping is the only answer. Carrying on is basically just as stupid as walking happily off a cliff whilst saying, “I’ve run out of road”.
Yet we all do it; on a global scale and on a personal scale.
I kept on going long after it was perfectly clear that there was too much stacked against me and then… yup, I eventually crashed totally. I spent several months in bed. Followed by several months where getting up and making toast was counted a major achievement. Compared to my former life this was nothing but I learned to readjust my metrics – last week I couldn’t get out of bed, this week I made tea, washed up and had a bath – hooray. Maybe next week I’ll prune the roses. Maybe I won’t but that doesn’t matter.
I’ve learnt that nothing that important will go away if you just take a break from everything. On the contrary, I have my mind back and that’s the only thing that I really can’t do without. My income has dropped by 95% but most of it was being wasted on maintaining the momentum and I still have the knowledge and intelligence that created it before, and now I have the strength to start rebuilding, as much as I want to.
The most important thing I’ve learnt is that I must do this in my time, at my speed, according to my plan.
Too many people try to fit into other people’s schedules and sometimes the worst pressure can come from friends and family who are still caught up in our society’s mania of racing ever forward without pausing to see what they’ve achieved, whether it was worth it and whether they even wanted it in the first place. They see you slow down, stop, fall and they worry for you and try to speed you up again, filling you with fear and guilt in an attempt to help. All with the best intentions but they’re not the best qualified to know the extent of your injuries or the necessary recovery time. If you jump straight back into that rat race before you are ready, you’ll just crash out even harder sometime soon. We all have different talents, skills, interests and abilities and we all have different reserves of energy and breaking points – only you can be the judge of what you can and can’t do, and when you are ready to do it – be guided by that and you can’t go wrong.
I’ve lost some so-called friends but seen the gloriously true rainbow colours of others and found space in my mind to make new, more suitable, ones.
I’ve abandoned some promising career paths but I wasn’t up to coping with them at that time anyway; I still have the knowledge I acquired investigating them and can choose to take up some of these threads or apply the knowledge elsewhere
I’ve let all sorts of things slide but I now have the strength to deal with them properly.
I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my life running away from what I don’t want and terrified to stop in case it catches me – like a dog with tin cans tied to its tail.
I stopped, figured out what the cans were and untied them.
Now, let’s try striving for what I do want – sounds much more fun!