I’m doing quite well. I’m struggling with getting the hours in for work in the weeks when the kids are with me. I struggle to be in any way interested in work. I’m not finding time for practicing music. I’m finding it hard to get to bed in time when the kids are not with me. All these situations are known, I know why they are the way they are, I consistently try to make them better, which sometimes works, sometimes not. They belong to my steady state, and people around me who might be affected by these things know about them too. I’m not hiding anything.
On the positive side, my steady state also includes finding time for quite a bit of physical activity with running and gym sessions. It includes having time for meaningful communication and staying in touch with the kids as they are rapidly growing up. I’m still doing music – cello in the orchestra, and an occasional solo singing gig. The house is reasonably clean, there are clean clothes and clean dishes for everyone, and I manage to prepare healthy meals every day. I’m getting my work done at a sufficient rate of satisfaction for the people affected by it. I’m healthy. I’m managing to improve my nutrition. I’m finding time to support the kids’ education. I usually have a natural smile on my face.
It takes so little to push me into hyperventilating, mental panic and huge distress.
On Saturday, all it took was the combination of getting up two hours later than I should have done, playing badly at orchestra rehearsal (because I hadn’t practiced, my cello needs new strings and my technique never has been good enough for fast notes, and I was playing virtually on my own), the prospect of no run that day, instead dashing to pick my mum up and remembering that I would have to go shopping, pack a case for my eldest, prepare his travel-with-gran documents, prepare food for the whole day for him (13 year old boys eat a lot). I also wasn’t quite sure how difficult it would be to free the eldest from his dad that next day – he had agreed with everything, but he had had a cross week last week. For all I knew, he might call the police, at least causing him to miss his flight. He’s pretty unpredictable – the only predictable thing about him is that he won’t do anything that requires physical effort on his part. All this already had me in an unhappy, stressed state.
What toppled the whole thing was Mr M calling to let me know that the get in touch page of his website, both desktop and mobile, which I am working on at the moment, had disappeared, and could I check what had happened? I was driving at the time and had to stop and just breathe for 10 minutes, then I tried to fix the problem from my mobile phone. Of course that didn’t work, but I wasn’t thinking straight – I couldn’t. His website does not have masses of traffic – it’s not as if this problem had to be fixed withing seconds, and I’m not on 24/7 web-admin duty, and he knows full well that I’m learning this stuff as we go along. All the same, it set me off, toppling me down the hill with the brakes dysfunctional, completely out of control.
It takes a lot of energy to regain control, and to get on top of things again. On top of that tottering pile of stuff, ready to be sent down again by any unexpected upset or imbalance. I need to invest in stability, and in taking a look at every stressor in my life, categorising it, and deciding whether there is any better way to deal with it, or even to get rid of it altogether. That’s going to be my project for the next few months I guess.