burnout & boundaries – is anxiety the catalyst for self-care?

there are days when i wake up, and life feels, more than anything, incredibly uncertain..

i am slow moving, worn out from my recent sleep phenomena of waking up in the middle of the night with heart-racing anxiety, laying in bed for a couple of hours, and then eventually falling in and out of sleep for 2-3 hours..

i was texting a friend yesterday, commenting on how “off” i’ve felt recently, wondering what might be the cause.. laying awake around 4 this morning, it came to me.. i mean, it was smacking me right in the face — my fucking anxiety.

it’s funny the ways in which we can be so blind to the most obvious aspects of our experience.. it can be hard for me to reach a place of clarity on things like this, because i’ve been subconsciously avoiding confronting it..

i’ve grown quite adept at recognizing my depression, which takes on a wide variety of forms in its expression.. but as for my anxiety, i’m much less attuned to..

when i’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, my knee jerk reaction is to get away from it, to distract from it, or to fix it.. never do i want to simply “sit” with it, to experience it. because my general fear is that i won’t be able to. or that maybe it’ll mean i have to change some things..

i’ve been taking on more over the past few weeks, feeling alive with life (hellooo, spring energy), ready to take on new projects, to do this living thing full-on..
so i don’t have a desire to be less busy, per se. but something i can recognize is that i’ll need to become much more skilled at boundaries, which continue to intimidate the heck out of me.

in her book, Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, Nedra Glover Tawwab explains:
“Mental health issues such as anxiety can be prompted by our neurological response to stress. When we are stressed, our brain has difficulty shutting down. Our sleep is affected. Dread sets in. As a therapist, I observe poor self-care, resentment, avoidance, and other mental health issues as common presentations of boundary issues.”

damn, so Nedra got my number, huh? she named the litany of experiences i’ve been cycling through over the past few weeks: anxiety, sleep disturbances, resentment, and avoidance.

here’s another quote from Nedra Glover Tawwab’s boundary book:
“If you think about it, the root of self-care is setting boundaries: it’s saying no to something in order to say yes to your own emotional, physical, and mental well-being.”

this brings me back to a quote i heard on the radio years ago that stuck with me: “sometimes saying no is actually saying yes.”

“no” feels harsh to me, especially as a woman who has been trained to be pleasant at all costs. (because sometimes, my literal survival depends on it..)

i also grew up in a household with, what Nedra refers to as “porous boundaries“:
– my mother knew no emotional boundaries, a classic oversharer
– my father has been so disinterested in taking care of himself over the years, i question if he could even name what he wants and needs
– my aunt was a people pleaser, non-confrontational, struggled with saying no and speaking up for herself, and was incredibly self-sacrificing

i don’t say any of this to drag the people who raised me — they’re all incredibly loving, generous, caring people. but they’re also human, and therefore flawed. which means i just didn’t really have boundaries modeled for me..

so as i try to practice them, i am becoming well acquainted with that queasy feeling that comes up when i feel like i am making someone i love feel sad or disappointed.. and it all but guts me.
[i’ve noticed that i often turn to anger in these moments, i believe as a strategy of protection, so i can keep some distance from me and the intense guilt i feel..]

one more thing from Nedra about poor boundaries and using avoidance to cope:
“Thoughts of fleeing… Fantasies of spending your days alone, ignoring calls, or hiding means you are seeking avoidance as the ultimate answer. But creating boundaries is the only real-life solution.”

goddamn, okay Nedra, we get it — you’ve been watching me for months and see my ways..

avoidance is definitely my main form of dealing with overwhelm.. i do it with friends when i feel like i don’t have the capacity to chat, i do it with my family group message, when my mom calls, and even right now, with a friend i’ve recently decided to collaborate with — i’ve know for a couple of days that i need to create a boundary, a container that differentiates our blossoming professional relationship from our personal one.. and yet, i’ve had such resistance to naming that need..

i want to be clear (mostly for myself) that sometimes “avoidance” is simply taking space for ourselves.. maybe Nedra would make the point that we need to articulate this to others, i don’t really know..
what i do know is that i often need space from my phone.. because it is simply too much.. so i’m sure there are still some nuances to be worked out.. i’ll let y’all know what i continue to find out.

i was jouraling today that i felt cheesy offering a prayer/public offering at the end of posts, but the reality is, i’m doing it mostly for me, because i need the reminder. so here’s one of my more general daily prayers:
may i remember the Love of the ancestors, the empowerment of the goddesses, the guidance of the spirit guides. in service to this Earth, in connection with Spirit.

more than anything, i don’t want a day to pass where people don’t remember their true nature as Divine beings. because this society so desperately wants us to forget, to become disconnected.. so i’m here to remind you.

❤ ❤ ❤ happy friday! i know i’m ready for it.

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