Stress is a perplexing evil beast.
There are times when it is simply overwhelming, debilitating and paralysing in every way, leaving one bewildered, a directionless statue, or a jiggling puddle of jelly, unable to progress in any direction toward a resolution or knowing how to back away from the stressor.
At other times we can observe the issue as if it were a slowly rotating mirrored disco orb suspended in front of us, allowing a view from all angles, allowing data collection to understand its quantum, towards determining a way to its solution. Sometimes the answer comes but at others we can only watch and come to understand its origins.
In my case, as a solution seeker, as soon as I have decided the best way out or over it and get busy towards fixing it, I immediately feel my spirits lift and an inner calm envelopes me, as in the doing I feel I’m back in charge.
I’ve just had a fairly shocking week with stressors coming at me like huge rolling sets of waves envied by surfers during or right after an enormous storm. For me however, just as I bobbed up after the first monster crashed overhead still gasping for air, I was horrified to see another massive beast approaching, only allowing a few quick breaths in between. By weeks end I was totally finished. I’d had 3 solid dumping shockers but I was actually feeling ok. A sort of calm had descended on me, I was quite astonished by this. Two issues I responded to in writing and I was very happy with how I cobbled my thoughts together in into an orderly coherent unemotional response. I tried very hard to respond to the last appropriately and on balance I guess I may have done all right there too. But emotionally it took its toll so by late last night, man, I was tired boss, dog-tired as John Coffey would say. Running away for a hide out to get a big sleep would have soothed my exhausted brain. I didn’t actually fix any of them, however my increasingly developed coping arsenal allowed me to invoke various strategies, to if nothing else, offer me some peace.
I sat with 3 wonderful women today and we all gave each other turns to debrief and unpack our respective shit as only women can do. I feel for men as they don’t allow or seek this from each other, which is why some become so needy of their women, as that may truly be the only place they can get that deep conversational intimacy. Women enjoy this most of their lives, its part of our DNA. And If we are really lucky we have several teams of these women to lean on.
All of us had a wheel barrow load of shit to share: for some it was fresh, some is was old and some was perfectly ripe and ready to toss out to become a fertile pasture into which we could let a new positive something else grow. Until the bastard barrow filled up again with a new fresh steaming hot turd.
I watched and listened to us all, with different backgrounds, different relationships, different lives, work histories and coping skills and found myself considering how remarkable it is we all manage the hands we are dealt at all. Some people crumble under he slightest blip on their radar. While others get so much more hardship than one could ever say they reasonably deserve, subjected to overwhelming adversity, all the while maintaining the most enviable and remarkable attitudes. I’m not one of those sadly. I sometimes loose it and can be heard whinging or seen howling at the moon, snarling and bellowing ferociously at my long-suffering friends and family, then retreating into my cave a while, to lick my metaphorical wounds while I plan my next move. This week I coped better than usual under more stress than I can remember and I wondered why?
The conclusion I reached was that over time, I’ve developed some calluses and skills in this area and my Geiger counter for various problems has become far more sensitive to the importance of each stressor than I could have hoped even 10 years ago. I’ve realised I can’t fix them or manage them or give them away, I can only rate them, respond where I can, mitigate the fall out if at all possible and if they are not literally going to unleash hell, put them to the side in a dark corner to smoulder till the fire leaves them. I guess it’s what maturity offers, progressive pragmatic problem placation of the highest order.
My mother was an extraordinarily gifted and funny woman, loved by many, practical honest and wise beyond belief and one of the most perpetually useful wisdoms she ever bestowed on me regarding this problem, before she died was as follows:
“If everyone wrote their problem on a small piece of paper, folded it up tossed it into a huge pile and took someone else’s in its place, most of us would be scrambling to get ours back.”
For in as much as ours may indeed be seemingly insurmountable to us, it is the devil we know and we may have learned to walk with it. Other people may in fact be carrying a far more heinous burden. So regardless of how desperate we think ours is, we have a familiarity with this and we can manage it for better or worse.
I guess the lesson learned was that there are many stressors that in a week or a month may not even be a memory, so it pays to remember they really don’t always all warrant all of our undivided attentions while we have other much more rewarding pressing matters to attend to and focus on. Perhaps I’m finally learning how to do this….. just a bit more letting go.