Some nights as my shift ends at the library I find myself in a bad mood. Not a bad mood necessarily. I am not angry, or upset. Only incapable of original thought, exhausted, ready to go to bed—to go anywhere—but stuck in place. It’s a mood that’s “bad,” I guess, because it feels so unproductive. But it isn’t “bad” to be unproductive, to feel tired and worn from a day. It’s just how I feel. What’s upsetting, possibly, is knowing that after biking home I won’t be able to sleep. Not right away, because biking—and working at the library—always works me up. I need time to cool down. 

But I chose this shift knowing exactly what it would do to me. It only feels bad because it feels like it turns life only into a matter of endurance: even though I’m doing nothing more complicated than waiting out the clock. It’s likely the solution is an easy one, to concentrate on the feeling and not wish for it to be anything other than what it is. Instead of sliding sideways, moving further and further away from myself, frustrated at my lack of cognitive ability, embracing my limitations and coming to a stop. 

I’ve been thinking about the ways I do this not only in moments where I feel exhausted, but where I feel generally “overwhelmed.” Often the problem is that I need to break down whatever it is that is overwhelming me, take conscious steps to relieve the problem. I feel ashamed about this because this has affected past relationships—not knowing what I’m really feeling, I might try to deflect or delay until some future moment where I’ll feel more composed (but that moment is itself a fantasy). 

Instead of admitting my failure, and asking for help (“Could we make plans for this right now, because it gives me anxiety to think about this as something I have to do ‘in the future’”) I have tried to both please and also push it forward, or away, so that it is out of the sphere of my immediate responsibilities… Instead, no one is pleased. The feeling of “overwhelm” builds and it seems like I am rejecting a request. Generally it stresses me out to imagine that I am imposing my needs on someone, asking for what I want, but the way things are enacted when it’s like that it becomes exactly the opposite (the inverse of my fears). I want instead to be more generous with my time or feelings, be more immediate, ensure that the people I love feel loved and supported. As it is now, I think I am only able to do that some of the time. 

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