Two steps forward, one step back (is this Two-Steppin’?)… part 2

How am I doing? Where is this burnout and healing process going?  Well, I don’t really know.

Almost two months ago, we came to the realization that I was in a pretty major slump.  Actually, slump doesn’t quite describe the emotions and the physical symptoms that came crashing in on me. I knew things weren’t good.  But I don’t think I realized how truly ‘not good’ they were.

Burnout for me has been ugly.  It has been a time of so many mixed emotions and actions that I can’t keep up.  I have my days.  Days when I feel like I’m doing better and I’m making healthy decisions about stress and work and stress levels.  Then I have days when I feel crazy waves of anxiety for what appears to be no good reason at all.  Days when I suddenly feel like I’ve forgotten to do something important, when my whole body tenses up and I start going through the mental list and calendar and trying to figure out what I’ve missed or what I should have done today.  Then I’ll process that and get that back in check, and have another good day.  And then I’ll get blind-sided by a conversation that makes my brain completely short circuit and shut down, or I won’t be able to find the words that I’m trying to say because it feels like everything around me is going triple speed and my head is on double-slow-mo.

Yesterday was one of those days.  I had a great morning!  The sun was out.  The birds were singing.  The house was clean.  I cut fresh flowers for the table and cooked a yummy breakfast casserole to share with our friends who were coming for a little bible study time.  We laughed.  We had coffee. We looked at our study together.  It seemed like all was right with the world.  And then, somewhere between Nehemiah and the orange juice and colored pens, my eyes just glazed over and my mind shut down.  I was somewhere else, but where?  I couldn’t tell you.  I didn’t even realize it had happened.  I just zoned out. My husband saw it.  And my best friend saw it.  They’re both really good at reading faces and body language and they both realized at the same time that something was off.

I hate that. I hate that it happened.  I hate that all the beauty and fun of the morning just stopped, and suddenly people were focused on me and if I was okay.  Please… anything else… anything!  But don’t look at me like I’m broken.  I can’t take it!

We talked about it and I shrugged it off and covered it up.  For a while.  Until my afternoon walk-and-talk with Hubby.  It’s one of our daily rhythms right now.  We take a 5k walk and we talk and process through things together.  He wanted to talk about the morning and what happened and how to help.  What triggered the shut down?  What feelings was I having?  What do we need to do differently?  And in all of that, I felt a sudden wave of fear.  Fear that I don’t know why it happened.  Fear that I don’t know what to do differently next time.  Fear that I don’t know how long this recovery process is going to take.  Fear that people around me are looking at me and thinking that I’m broken or unintelligent or mentally ill.  Fear that Hubby won’t always be there to notice that I’ve shut down, that he can’t always rescue me from the situation.  Fear. Loss of control. Loss of competence. With the fear and the loss come the tears.

I’ve always been the one who had it all together.  The smart one.  The one who was two steps ahead of the game.  The strategic one.  The one who could troubleshoot anything and figure it all out.  The one who wasn’t fazed by crisis. The steady one.  The leader.  .  A strong, determined, independent, confident woman who could take on the world at any given moment. Now I feel like none of those things.  Who am I now?

On some days, I feel like I’m making steps forward.  I notice when my stress level goes up. I notice when I need a break.  I pay attention to my inner voice and the lies that I tell myself.  On some days, I think I’m getting better and I feel good about it.

Yesterday wasn’t one of those days.

So, two months in.  Feels a lot like two steps forward and one step back.  Some days feel like going back to square one. And some days feel great and I feel ‘like myself’ again.  My days are like waves and I never know if the sea is going to be gentle and calm, or roll over me with emotions I didn’t see coming.

What I would give to feel 100% like me again… where is that girl who can do just about anything, do it at the drop of a hat, and do it with excellence? I really wish she’d come home…

*part 1 The Slow Burn(out)

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