Been thinking a lot about different kinds of beliefs this week. Not in a remotely religious sense, just the difference between knowing something rationally, and knowing it in your bones. And the ways in which your brain and body can trip you up by holding onto unhelpful and untrue beliefs even when you “know” better.
As with anxiety, or depression. A friend formulated this neatly as: Anxiety tells me lies about the world, depression tells me lies about myself. All of those lies are of course experienced in a very physical way. And this was on my mind last week because I had one (good) day in new job, then one day off, and I spent that entire day feeling sick with dread. The tight chest, the nausea, the intense physical discomfort of knowing, absolutely knowing that you’ve screwed up somewhere and it’s only a matter of time before it comes back to bite you.
Of course there was exactly no reason for this feeling. Well, there was, but it didn’t have anything to do with this job. It had everything to do with the last one. Over just eight months there I got horribly used to suddenly landing in the doodoo because of some entirely mysterious offence. Everyone was very happy with my actual work, and yet, I was so very badly out of place in the corporate culture, I kept screwing up on matters of communication and such. (No, I was not swearing at the CEO.) I never knew where the next hit was coming from but there was always something. So, this pervasive sense of dread. And apparently my brain has come to associate work with “you’re about to get it“. And now that I’m working again…
The good thing is, because there really hasn’t been anything to worry about, brain hasn’t been able to hang this anxiety on any specific worry. Meaning, no spiralling thoughts, just the physical sensation. So it was pretty easy to recognise what was happening, and say soothing things to myself, and trust (sort of) that with a little time I’d override that programming. And I’m pleased to say this has been happening. So that’s nice.
Also been musing on basic things that I find hard to believe: my own adulthood. The fact that kids indubitably grow. This latter one is something that I was absolutely incapable of believing in C’s babyhood; it seemed like an incontrovertible fact that I was condemned to be no more than a baby life support system for, well, ever. More recently, it’s come as quite a surprise to realise I understand why people say “they grow so fast”. I mean. They DON’T. Except when they do, and with C on the brink of adolescence and M entering that golden zone of being an easy(ish) big kid but not yet a stroppy teenager, I can definitely imagine the next few years slipping away. I feel like this is when it gets to be fun, when we can really do interesting things together, and I know how crap we are at actually getting around to doing the fun things. So, whoops in advance, I guess.
And adulthood, well. I know that everybody feels like they’re just faking, of course. It still seems, though, that Armin and I have been particularly late in growing up. There is something about moving country (twice) that sets you back on those milestones – like buying a house – and definitely something about having kids without a well-organised work life that sets you back in your career. And both of those things have at times weighed on me pretty heavily. So of course now there’s a great satisfaction in feeling that I have ticked the boxes; but also a bit of counterweight “took you long enough”. And does it matter? Well, no. Not really. But at times I look at my life and wonder why I never got round to doing the things I supposedly wanted to do so badly, like travelling. I am quite amazingly undertravelled, for someone who’s lived in three countries. After 20 years in Europe there’s not much excuse for that. …Well, there is, or at least there are reasons. To do with timing (having a scarcity of either time, or money, or both, at different life stages) and family (we have so bloody many of them in so many places, and there has so often been pressure to visit them that we’ve not had much chance to go anywhere else). But still, if you really wanted to, you would, wouldn’t you? So how is it that I’ve never managed to be adult enough to Go Places? I mean, everybody else does…
I may have screwed things up a bit in this department by failing to establish the travel habit for so long that I’ve entirely overshot the “adult enough to Go Places” stage and fallen right into “too old to have the energy to go anywhere”. Travel is after all pretty damn exhausting, isn’t it. Especially with kids. And especially if you’re wrestling with eco guilt over getting on a plane. (Nobody else seems to worry about that but I really do.) So I am really quite worried that I might just never end up going anywhere. That doesn’t seem very nice, though. Give me a little time to work it out.
Remember that part about how we’re crap at getting around to the fun stuff? Uh oh.
PS: Wednesday is the new Monday, because Monday and Tuesday are working days. This is a little distressing to me because the blog has been so much a part of my weekend housekeeping – wrapping the week up in a tidy bow and preparing for the next one. But hey. Times change.