It's OK to relax

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 17

For the past week or so, I've been feeling pretty tired. The weeks haven't been particularly difficult or busy, in fact, they've been pretty darn normal. I think it is this normalness that is causing me to ponder my fatigue, both physical and emotional. Though I'm tired, I am finding it difficult to gear down and actually relax. It's as though I've forgotten who to. This is rather odd for me and I've been trying to think why. Here is my conclusion. The past four months have been so crazy that I have jumped into automatic high alert and my body is finding it difficult to gear down. You want to hear the list from the past four months? I don't share this with you because I want you to be impressed by me, but because it's part of my point that things sneak up on you and you don't always realize it. Here's what we did:

- Three surgeries, one being the unplanned emergency type
- One hospital test
- 22 doctor's appointments, not including the standing twice a week variety we already do
- One college graduation
- Thanksgiving (which we hosted)
- Directing Christmas pageant and children's choir
- Christmas
- Crisis with HG with a very long ER visit and a week of difficult things as we worked to get her services
- New Year's party
- Doctoral comprehensive exams
- Three ear infections
- Two rounds of stomach flu
- Hosted a bridal shower
- Hosted a wedding
- Two tech weeks and two performance weekends for children in theater
- Decision to adopt an 11th child and application to China
- One homestudy completed
- Parents visited for a weekend

So add in that with the usual stuff... homeschooling, feeding ~12 people, keeping the house in order, teaching piano, keeping up with writing jobs, and all the other stuff of everyday life... and I can see why I've been feeling odd. It was a lot. Especially with expanders failing and various complications after H.'s surgery, I began to feel as though I was just moving from crisis to crisis and I could feel myself living in a high alert state.

Here's where I'm going with all of this. It is not good to live in a constant state of high alert. It makes small things that would normally not even register as being a big deal seem more difficult and big things become even harder. There is no way for your body to relax when bad things aren't happening and you are always looking for trouble. I have been having to purposefully make myself sit down and relax (and no, spending time on the computer, people, is not relaxing... my gut feeling is that it makes us all more stressed, but I'll have to wait for someone to do a real study to prove me right.) It involves putting more margin in my life again and realizing that having moments where I'm not doing anything are OK. It is OK if I sit and knit. It's OK if I snuggle with my littles and spend an hour looking at picture books. It's actually even OK if I sit for a bit and don't do anything at all... even if there is a load of laundry in the washer. I hate the jumpy feeling of not being able to relax and I've been using techniques on myself that I learned to help TM calm down.

It is also good for me to feel what it is like to live in this heightened state for a longer period of time because it gives me empathy for some of my children. Children from hard places live in this state perpetually, for TM, I'm convinced it is the only thing he knows. If I have difficulty gearing down from it after only four months, how much more difficult is it to learn to live in a more relaxed state? It makes me realize that he needs support in working towards this goal.

I wonder how many other people live in this state and don't even realize it. Our society doesn't give much room or permission to relax or allow margin in our lives. It's not healthy and makes one short-tempered. So everyone, take a deep, relaxing breath or two... look at your schedule and see what really doesn't need to be there... and practice not being busy.


Carla said…
Excellent post!

Well said... and needed.

Thank you!

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