Being Poly introduces some odd emotional entanglements. Our household is unconventional; consisting of myself, my partner, her husband, their two kids, and, until recently, my two kids. The last of mine moved out just a couple of weeks ago. And I’m feeling quite a range of emotions. I love their kids and we all get a long great but it just isn’t… the same. I feel less purposeful, rather melancholic, and this feeling is somewhat amplified watching them relate to their kids on a daily basis. I feel a bit more like a third-wheel. I know the feeling will pass eventually, especially if I give it room to just be what it is. Meanwhile, I’m going to do my best to engage with my now-further-away kids. And maybe I can teach theirs how to sail on my vacation this year.
That’s some great advice that I gave to a friend a few evenings ago. She’s really down fighting too much stress and really didn’t want to hear it. And here I am the night before the beginning of what should be a good vacation, I have no real reason to feel down, and yet I really feel quite depressed. I could list all sorts of stressors that are going on but are they truly real reasons or just artifacts of a bunch of expectations and assumptions I make about myself? So I shall listen to my own advice and recognize, as step one on this vacation, that I deserve to be happy. Now I just have to believe it and go do it.
I’m sitting here watching the rain come down on what was a beautiful day. It wasn’t even in the forecast; it was a pleasant sunny day and then suddenly there was thunder and rain and a dog hiding under my desk. I’m sure it will clear up soon and the day will say farewell with a spectacular sunset. And there’s something to keep in mind when things don’t go the way you thought they would (like it seems for me every day at work recently); the rain and thunder may sneak up on you but eventually the clouds will clear and the sun will come out. Be patient and have faith.
Today I’m all out of energy. It isn’t always easy to puzzle out why that is. Is it the ongoing work drama? Is it because I’m only a couple of days away from vacation and leaving loose ends lying around (I’m always afraid they’ll come back and bite me). Is it because the “up” of yesterday’s gig with my band has been met with an equivalent “down”. Or maybe it is just because the amount of energy we put out for a two hour concert, and the long drive there and back, and getting up early to work is just what it takes and one should expect to be tired. Regardless, I know I’m moving forward on the work drama, have vacation coming, and we had a load of fun last night. So maybe I’ll just try to find some satisfaction in that and head to bed.
This week I start taking back my career. It is an odd situation to be in; to rebuild your job from the ground up. It means setting better boundaries. It means demanding more of some other people. It may mean disappointing a few people, or upsetting them as they have less access to me or have to fend for themselves. It definitely means some careful wading through the political landscape and I hope I haven’t misread my boss’s support for this change. I’m feeling some serious signs of stress as I head into this process. It is good to acknowledge this so I can work on seeing it as a positive opportunity with all sorts of possibility.
Providing acts of service is important to me. It is a big part of how I express love. It is also a reason that I’ve been successful in my career as a software developer. I think it has become a problem though; an addiction – unable to stop saying “yes”, I just keep piling on the work. Clearly it is time for a change in approach. Service does not necessarily mean doing everything for everybody without boundaries or conditions – that’s probably codependency. So letting others figure out their stuff and take responsibility for their own growth, learning, and trouble-shooting is a positive path. Ultimately, helping people find their independence may be the best service I could provide to them and, in doing so, provide some long neglected service to myself.
I finally got the gumption up to tell my boss just how lousy I was feeling about work. I’m not sure if I’m afraid of looking weak but I have reached a point of dysfunction that clearly wasn’t sustainable (is any point of dysfunction sustainable?) So when a bunch of drama took over this morning, I raised my voice, privately, carefully, in an email. He phoned me back and we had a good chat and maybe we’ve got a new direction. It feels right; I start vacation soon so maybe I can come back with some fresh perspective and treat this like a job reset. There’s hope.
I had a plan this morning to get some tasks off my list. Before I even got to my desk, though, I had accumulated about three hours worth of not-on-my-plan work to do. By the end of the day, I still haven’t done that one thing that I was planning to get done. I’ve discovered I make an error in parsing that outcome; it feels like I haven’t done anything because I didn’t get to put a check mark beside the thing I wanted to do. In fact, I’ve done a lot of stuff. From now on, I get double check boxes for those.
I’m so habituated to doing too many things at once that when I’m faced with some quiet time and a major task to do, I find it really hard to focus. The concentration has dissolved in a swirl of a long to-do list and years of constant juggling of priorities. I used to pride myself on that ability to handle a load of conflicting tasks and timelines but that ability has become a burden. Being more aware of this is a good thing as I think there’s probably a way to extract some concentration out of the muck, perhaps with some brief and focused meditation when I see the focus slipping away. Ironically I have to concentrate enough to see that happening.
Being a programmer, I get in the habit of trying to pare things down to logical “if, then, else” kinds of statements. It is an unconscious habit to think that way, but I really shouldn’t be surprised when problems that are loaded with emotional complexity don’t bend well under the power of logic. Questions of competency, confidence, overwork, and resentment don’t allow for debugging the way a nice chunk of code does. Good self-care practices such as meditation and exercise will help lead to some acceptance which in turn may reveal the little bits that can be solved. And there’s the logical part.