So I’ve been doing a ridiculous amount of work lately on my complicated tangle of beliefs, experiences and patterns around Time.*
The feeling of “never enough”, the need for more, the lack of trust that this whole issue is going to get easier.
*Not capitalizing to be pretentious or anything! Just trying to draw attention to what a symbolic/thematic big deal it is for me right now.
There was that especially wacky meditation where I found a clock walled up inside of me (which then exploded, because a walled up clock isn’t trippy enough).
There was the session with Carolyn where we planted the idea that I’m allowed to have time for myself during the workday, which grew into my email sabbatical.
Then my hurting, unable-to-work arms spoke to me very clearly and said the following:
“You need your business to be a business. The kind that can run when you’re not there every second. Which it already can and you know it.
Enough treating it like it’s actually just another full-time job. Because we’re not getting better until you cut it out with the workaholism. So there.”
And I couldn’t even argue with them, because they were right.
And learning even more about how I interact with time, how I think about it and how I treat it.
Hi, you must be my “I’m not allowed to have free time” block.
In my last Carolyn session we were talking about changes I could make to my schedule, and she asked what I would do if I had free time?
The concept — in fact, just the combination of those two words into one united phrase — felt so foreign to me, so bizarre, that I couldn’t even really wrap my head around it.
Issues. I have some.
So I was (gently) poking around in my head, trying to figure out where this was coming from, and I found a couple of different fears to spend time with.
Fear #1: My fear of being a slacker.
Otherwise known as my fear of spending five years in a row doing nothing but staring at the wall and picking lint out of my belly button. Otherwise known as my fear of repeating the better part of my twenties.
Me: Whoah. Interesting. Okay, you’re totally allowed to be afraid of this if that’s what you’re feeling.
Fear: Uh-huh. I know.
Me: Um, can I just remind you though that we weren’t actually slacking off? We were just, you know, paralyzed by some seriously crippling perfectionism that kept us from even thinking about trying anything. Well, that and exhausted from working until 7 a.m. at the bar.
Fear: Whatever. Maybe. What’s important is that I need to keep that from ever happening again.
Me: Man, you are always trying to protect me. And I manage to forget that every single time.
Fear #2: My fear of abandoning my mission.
Me: Okay, that was almost creepy how fast that one went away. Hello, new fear. What’s your story?
New fear: I know you don’t like being a workaholic, but you just need to deal. Because you’re on a mission from god, much like in the Blues Brothers, only about a gazillion times more important. We can’t have you messing around here.
Me: Wow. I see we haven’t met yet. You’re pretty intense. Authoritative much?
New fear: You have to get your act together.
(Sound of me thinking ….)
Me: Let me see if I can reassure you a bit. I have enormous respect and love for my mission. I’m not going to abandon my mission.
You know what though? There isn’t going to be a mission if I get burnt out and lose my passion. And I can’t even do my mission effectively if what I end up modeling for people is self abuse instead of kindness.
The best way to protect the mission is by keeping me healthy and sane and well rested. The more time I take for myself, the higher quality my time is that I give to others.
(Sound of my fear thinking ….)
New fear: I see you’re pretty good at this authoritative thing too.
Me: So we’re cool? No way. Wow. Was that about a hundred times easier than last time or what? I’m astounded.
In which I receive some free time and don’t know what to do with it.
So that was last week.
Since then, I did some work with Jen Hofmann on creating a Non-Cheesy Healing Calendar for me, with a few experimental chunks of “free time” built in, and have gotten considerably more comfortable with the idea… at least in theory.
Then the other day I went to the one yoga class where I don’t need to use my arms, and it was canceled.
Bam! Instant free time.
No fear this time… but some internal dialogue:
Ooh! Free time! It’s happening! Ohmygosh!
I know! I could go sit in a café and write… oh wait, I can’t write because of my arms.
But I could sit on a bench or on the grass and write… no, I can’t actually.
Okay. There really isn’t anything I want to do that doesn’t involve writing in some form. in fact, writing is how I process things. It’s how I interact with things. It’s how I self-medicate. It’s how I sort out my thoughts and feelings.
And I really just need to be able to mourn that loss.
So I went for a walk.
And then I went and did some yoga at home.
And there was time for me. And it was actually uh … kind of freeing. So there!
Or at least, you know, close enough.