As I mentioned in a blog post I wrote in January, March has been a very full month. Two joyous hen parties, one amazing steampunk wedding, a visit from my brother and his two sons, a close friend visiting my place to celebrate for her birthday and a trip to London to see my mum and dad before they jetted off to Australia.
When I was driving back from the wedding earlier this week, my husband and I discussed what was going on in April so we could get our heads around what we would be doing. And as I talked through the calendar, I felt a weight of pressure clamp upon my chest. I realised that the merry-go-round of busyness was continuing well into May with plans every weekend and so much going on during the week nights.
I hope you don’t mistake my distress at this level of fullness as being spoilt and ungrateful, because I love everything that is planned. But I felt an all-too-familiar unravelling in myself as I once again felt stretched too thin, without the energy, resources or space needed to be fully present with these commitments. I felt the carousel that is my life start to pick up pace and spin too fast for me…but deeper than that, I realised that this carousel will always turn too quickly unless I pull the breaks. Unless I take steps to slow it down.
And as if by magic – perfect timing – my friend, Jess, sent me this beautiful image from Brené Brown’s Courage Works website that summed up exactly what I need to do differently in my life:
And so, with bravery and a feeling of sickness in my stomach, I messaged a dear friend I had planned to see in Cornwall in 2 weekends’ time. And I was open with her about what I needed:
I have so many things on and have been busy over busy this past few months. I feel so tight in my chest and throat about it and am not sure I’m able to keep everything together when I feel like life is running away from me. I don’t really know what to do about it…there’s a small chance I might have to bow out of your birthday weekend, which I feel rotten about. Can I play it by ear and let you know how I feel in a week? Sorry to have to put this out there…I just need to start being honest with myself about what I can do and what I need to do to take care of myself
I felt sick letting her down, being unreliable, not showing her how much I love her with my presence at her birthday weekend. But at the same time, I recognised that having accepted so many invitations meant that I was letting myself down, leading myself into situations where I was unreliable, not showing myself the love that I deserve.
As I waited for her reply, all I could do was repeat to myself that Dr Seuss quote that has helped me through so many times of panic before: “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind“. Over and over and over again.
And of course she replied with compassion, love and understanding.
She knew where I was coming from.
She understood my need to put some boundaries in my life.
As I step back and reflect a few days later, I’m so proud of what I did. I think this is the first time that I’ve stopped and took corrective action before breaking point. In the past, I would have soldiered on with all my plans until my body gave up or I collapsed in a heap of tears/with a panic attack.
So this is progress. A small step forward into a life that has even greater amounts of courage, truth and love.