…No one to choke.
I’ve been living with a lot of stress lately. It sneaks up on me when I least expect it. I noticed it this past week when I almost snapped at church while driving one of the vans to pick up women from a local shelter to bring them to church. Yeah, I know, that totally sounded like a self-serving, self-aggrandizing, self-promotion statement, but that’s what I was doing. The additional stress of doing that for the first time, not knowing where I was going or what the procedure was combined with driving essentially a small bus, which is the largest vehicle I’ve driven in years and years, in the rain, had me about ready to snap.
But, here’s the thing, I didn’t notice that the stress was building up until it was right on top of me.
Looking back, I can see all the warning signs. I’ve been eating too much and exercising not enough. Nor have I been sleeping enough. Witness the fact that I’m writing this at about 1:00AM after not working out because I fell asleep on the couch after eating a huge bowl of left-over mac-and-cheese-and-Spam. Don’t judge me, you hypocrites who are all acting shocked because I ate Spam. You have your comfort foods, too. Mine just happens to be high-fat, processed meat with delicious hickory flavoring added right in for your convenience. And, I’ve been eating donuts and candy at work, too. But, the other signs are worse. I’ve been clenching my jaw for weeks now, to keep myself from saying the things I don’t want to say out loud, at work and elsewhere. I don’t want to be the asshole that turns loose with the biting sarcasm at the least provocation. Well, I don’t want to be that guy again. Oh, sure, it’s funny, but it doesn’t exactly make me the kind of person who other people want to get close to and be honest with.
Worst of all, I’ve noticed that I’m not getting everything done at work that I want to get done. My users have come to expect a certain level of service that I’m proud to be able to deliver. I try to make things run smoothly enough that no one waits for more than a few minutes for anything really important and most things aren’t really important. But, that has its problems, too. Now, I think that my users are used to not waiting, so some of them get impatient when they don’t have instant results. Worse, I’ve made the impossible happen on short notice so many times now that everyone seems to expect that to be the norm. Apparently, I haven’t made it clear enough that I’m making an exceptional effort to accomplish some of these things on short notice so everyone seems to think I can just produce at that level all the time. Well, guess what? I CAN’T! I know, I know, I should take time off, right? Because a little time off will make it better, right? Well, not so much. I am, in fact, taking several days next week to go watch my nephew graduate from Basic Training, but I’m so worried about what’s going to go wrong while I’m away that I can’t hardly sleep at all, unless I pass out from exhaustion on the couch, like I did tonight. And, yes, I know this is getting more and more panicked and ranty sounding, but that’s in part because I feel more and more panicked and stark, raving mad the closer I get to trying to take a couple of days for myself like everyone else in the company does, because I’m so terrifed that nothing will work while I’m away or that the office will call all the damn time while I’m on the road that it will be worse than actually being there and just disappointing my nephew. I mean, if the users can’t wait five minutes for me, how are they going to wait five days?
I try to remind myself that I’m lucky to have a job. And, I know I am, but sometimes the stress is enough to make my heart explode in my chest. And, I know they did survive when I was getting treatment for cancer, but there are more of them now and it took weeks to sort out the mess that was the result of me being away so much that year.
There’s nothing much for me to do about it, either. I try not to hate the person I see myself becoming. I try not to backslide too badly on my exercise and generally better diet. I try to pray. I try to sleep. I try to just relax. But, I’ll be honest, gentle readers, I’m just not designed to run this hot anymore. I used to live at this stress-level all the time, but that was a long time ago. Besides, I was a real asshole when I lived like that. And, I really, really don’t want to be that guy again. But, I’m starting to wonder if that’s not the only way to deal with it, if that guy is the guy who’s designed to work under those conditions. Maybe. I hope not.
Or, somehow, conditions will have to change. Soon.
Well, until then, I guess I’d better try to catch a few hours of sleep before getting up and doing it all again.
I hope your collective weeks are going better than that, my faithful readers.
And, with that, we return you to your regular internet drivel.
Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is bone to the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog."