It’s been some time since I’ve written about my return to work, about how I’ve been managing. For a while – a long while – I was managing so well I didn’t need to think about it. There was nothing really to say.
So I can’t tell you when I stopped feeling comfortable in my skin again. Sometime between February and now, while I was looking the other way, thinking about other things and just trying to keep up, I lost part of myself. The part that puts down markers and holds fast to boundaries and says “no more” without fearing the consequences, without giving in.
Without resorting to desperation.
Without succumbing to panic.
Now, again, I imagine the judgement of others – which is my judgement of myself. I jump at unexpected sounds. I am immobilized by the need to make decisions. I feel fragile.
I know it’s work that has worn me down – or at least I know I’ve let it. I love my job but not to the detriment of my sanity. Others surrounding me are running around trying to keep everything afloat as well. Perhaps they are struggling like me, perhaps not quite – not yet. But the mistake I’ve made is allowing that to keep me in the fire. I’ve turned to them for approval when I say no. I’ve pushed myself to perform in return for recognition, acknowledgement. That amounts to putting my sanity in their hands.
Thankfully, I still have all the lessons I learned while on stress leave. Thankfully, I can now recognize the signs of impending doom, and can mark the distance from here back to my boundaries. There is hope, a way back.
I don’t know how to catch hold of that nugget that is my strength, to catch hold and expand it. But I know I have to.
Maybe the knowing is step 1. Maybe I’m already on the right path.
Maybe it is already time to search for step 2.