On learning to relax

I met with my counsellor yesterday. She had given me homework last time: I was to figure out how to relax. I told her I was spending 1-3 hours every evening lying down. She pointed out the difference between resting and relaxing, and walked me through a meditation exercise. We talked about how I am doing (better), how my family is doing (generally better*), and how my sense of being overwhelmed is going (also better, but still a big issue).

I’m still trying to find a balance. Work could easily take all my time, but my brain shuts down at or before 5 pm, so it just can’t take over. As a result I feel vaguely behind, all the time (though it is very possible this is just how I will feel for my entire time pre-tenure.. or to that matter, my entire time in academia). Pea is taking on the lion’s share of things around the house – we’re cooking together, and I’m still doing the laundry, but anything handyman or anything outdoors he’s taken care of while I take to my bed. I know this is ok, and that he doesn’t mind, but it is hard. I still feel torn when I am not in Capital City, helping with family. My dad had a pretty rough week last week – sometimes the machines keeping him alive malfunction, and it can take time to sort it out, time that is hard and scary for him. The fact that medical scares and uncertainty are a permanent part of his new normal is something we’re all still adjusting to.

I had a harebrained plan to hop a plane to Capital City to spend Father’s Day with my dad, as a surprise. I still feel horribly guilty that I did not do this, because the only reason I didn’t was that I was too tired, and I needed a day to run errands and recenter. This is not a reason I would normally give any credit to, except I’m so tired that I am forced to reckon with it. Overdrive me has always had a hard time with even the most basic of self-care, because family, Pea, work, obligations to others, favours for others, and the needs of others will always always supersede self care for me. In part because I gain great satisfaction and sense of self from being useful or of value to others, whereas I don’t really value personal growth.

In short, I have a long way to go in learning to relax, but I agree that it is the right direction to be aiming.


* Family is in great shape in large part because everyone is tickled pink with the arrival of P., Turia’s daughter. Pea and I were the lucky bugs who got to take care of E. while Turia and Q. went off to the hospital, and then were first in the family to meet the adorable new arrival, when she was only three-ish hours old. It was a smooth, if highly rapid delivery, and P. has begun to adjust to life on the outside, largely with demands for milk. I’m delighted she’s here, and she’s safe, and Turia is safe. There are many worries erased with her debut, and a grand adventure just unfolding.

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