Burning at Both Ends

Well, I’ve been doing it again. Working myself too hard. Trying to be all things to all people. Burning my delicate little candle at both ends. I got dangerously close to burning out this week, which culminated in me crying on my way over to my boyfriend’s place last night. This is when I start to recognize that something needs to change. Again.

And it’s really nothing huge that’s getting me down. Just a lot of small moving parts.  I’ve been racing toward a deadline at work to complete my first software design project by March 1. It’s a special health assessment that helps users get an idea of how bad their heartburn is, and whether they should be tested for acid reflux disease. Really sexy stuff, right?

In addition to that, I’ve been trying to keep pace with my classwork while working on a group paper which involves connecting and collaborating with two classmates in two different time zones.

On Wednesday I went to a letterpress/book making class with the boyfriend after work.

On Thursday, we had “family dinner” with his roommate & a few of his close friends, where they made mixed drinks and drank wine all night.

Yesterday, I went to the gym, worked on the school paper project, and then spent some time chatting over coffee with a good friend.

After all of that, I felt really, really low. Just crummy. I was fine for most of the day until the minute my friend and I parted ways, and then I just felt tired and vaguely frustrated. By everything. And everyone. I didn’t want to go anywhere but I didn’t want to stay where I was. So, I decided to pack up my things and go home.

I went home with the intention of getting a head-start on cleaning out my room and packing up my things for my big move on Wednesday. Instead, I just laid in bed for an hour, fully clothed with the covers pulled up to my nose, reading political news (bad idea) and trying to figure out what my boyfriend and I could do.

We decided on a movie and dinner, so I showered, gathered my overnight bag, and headed out the door.

As I was driving, I could feel a panicky sensation rising. I started thinking about everything that I have to get done. I started thinking about still making time to go to the gym each week –  my place of sanity – even with school and work and social engagements. I began agonizing over the month of April, which is turning out to be mostly filled with travel and not enough time for homework or final papers to get done. I remembered that I still have to buy my $100 bridesmaid dress for my brother’s wedding this summer, and I have to RSVP to the bridal shower for my best friend as well. I started to worry about my creative writing group and whether the room would hold all 25 people who said they were going to come. I started getting anxious about getting my laundry done.

And just like that, I began crying. Just crying, right there in the car, sitting at a stoplight waiting for it to change. I cried for maybe three minutes, then wiped my face as best I could before getting to my boyfriend’s place. I tried to walk in the door with at least a semblance of a smile, and I kept thinking, I’m so tired of pretending to be OK. But I don’t know how to be upset around him. At all.

A little bit later in the evening, as we were driving to the movie, I started talking about how stressed I felt, and how I was worried about April being a difficult month. His response: *shrug* “You’ll make it through. Just gotta have a stiff upper lip about it.”

God. I felt so…defeated. I know he wasn’t intentionally invalidating my feelings, but I at least hoped for a squeeze of the hand, or a hug when we got out of the car, or something in his voice that showed me he empathized. Something to help me feel less lonely about it. And quite honestly, I was a little pissed. But I didn’t say anything. I nodded and said something like, “yup, I guess so,” and looked out the window.

I can feel my stress starting to take over. My shoulders and back have started to hurt again. My head feels too heavy for my neck. My thoughts have become a little more erratic. I keep waking up at night with weird dreams that feel uncomfortably close to real.

And damnit, I’ve wanted a drink a few times. I can’t deny it. Resisting has been easy, as usual, but I can’t lie and say that the temptation hasn’t been there. I know I need to stop burning both ends of my little sober candle, otherwise I’m going to get myself into trouble. My weakness continues to be saying “no” when I know I need the time to myself.

EXCEPT, wait, I actually did that yesterday. I told my boyfriend that I wasn’t going to be able to go to a with him concert on Monday night, which he bought tickets for months ago. They were about $10 each and he bought one for me before asking if I wanted to go, so I felt a little less guilty about turning it down. So I told him no, I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. There’s too much going on. I can’t be out late on a Monday night.

And he actually kissed my forehead and told me that it was alright. So, at least there’s that.

Day 232 alcohol free. I won’t drink tonight. 

Edit: apparently, this is also my 100th post here. Woohoo!


4 thoughts on “Burning at Both Ends

  1. Barb Knowles says:

    I’m feeling in a funk today and can really relate to this post. What stood out to me was your description of ” Burning my delicate little candle at both ends.” That you recognize it as delicate is huge. I have to recognize mine as delicate, too. For me, it usually means getting physically sick. But emotional wellness is just as important.

    Liked by 1 person

    • okayishness blog says:

      My first signal for burning myself out too fast is a gradual build of tension, pain and tightness in my shoulders and neck. I think I tend to walk around with my shoulders up to my ears when I am stressed, so I’m trying to be mindful about this stuff and taking the steps necessary to release some of that tension when I notice it. Harder than it seems!

      Liked by 1 person

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