Some days, I am tired.
I guess some days everyone is tired, and everyone gets tired some days. But right now, at this moment, I am really, really tired. Not the lack of sleep tired – I’ve experienced that, especially when my kids were little or during one of my bouts of insomnia. Those days upon days upon days catching fistfuls of sleep where I could. Not the illness tired – that’s something usually accompanied by aches and pains or a cough or painful blisters (okay, that was Shingles, and I was really tired during that one!). Not the “I just had two glasses of wine and now I need to lay my head on the table and sleep” tired, because that totally happens to me after two glasses. And it’s not even the Sleep Apnea, because I slept the right amount of hours with an alien-like face-hugging mask blowing on my face. Those are physical tireds, and it’s not that.
It’s a systemic tired. It’s TIRED in all caps. It’s like someone took a few spigots and attached one to my body, one to my mind, and one to my very soul, and drained a bunch of energy fluid out of it. I didn’t even do anything that other people would consider exhausting, like run a marathon (or, in my case, walk up two flights of stairs). I just did my job today. Well, in the morning I did my parent job, and then I did my job job, and I came home and now I’m supposed to do the parent job again, but I’m kinda low on, well, on everything.
I can only be “on” for so many hours of the day. I’m like the opposite of the Energizer Bunny (you know, the one who keeps going and going and going…). I’m more like those cheap rechargeable batteries, the ones you buy because you want to be eco-friendly and they seem like a really good idea at the time, but they lose their charge so quickly they spend half their lives on the charger plugged into the wall. So that’s me, right now, I used up all I had all day, but my day isn’t over, so now I am “plugged into the wall” (actually, laying on the bed napping on and off, but same idea). And Hubby is saying, “I’m sorry you’re so tired” in a way that sounds like, “What on earth is wrong with you and why can’t it be fixed?” Of course that’s my interpretation, or maybe that’s my own voice in my head.
My typical day, from the moment I wake up in the morning, involves taking care of people. Even at my job, where I supervise those who take care of people, I have found that those taking care of people are often the ones who need the most taking care of. Over the past 2-3 years, interns that I supervise have appeared to be needier and more self-centered than I have ever experienced in the past (including as an intern myself). They seem impossible to please, they are moody, they always want more than I can give, they blame everyone else for problems, except when they are blaming themselves to the point of falling apart and believing they are complete failures, they don’t meet deadlines, don’t hear things the first time I tell them, get caught up in interpersonal drama, they whine and complain and always seem “burdened,” and they are always on their phones. In short, all my interns have become teenage girls (I am qualified to say this, since I have been a teenage girl in the past, and I am now raising one myself). When I tell people I run the counseling department at a special education school for Emotionally Disturbed students, these people look at me as Mother Theresa working with lepers. Yes, the students are a challenge, and they take a lot of energy, but most of my work is with the therapists who work directly with the students, and they are exhausting.
Today there were a lot of problems to solve, a lot of personalities to manage, and a lot of emotions to contain. It’s not uncommon for the emotions and trauma of a client to trigger the emotions and trauma of the therapist, and, when that happens, it is my job to help them deal with it and to be the best clinician they can be. However, on a day like today, where every corner I turned I faced drama and feelings and crisis, it took all that I had out of me and, by the time I came home, I had nothing.
Here are the things I would be doing right now if I had the energy to do so:
- I would go into the other room where my son is meeting with his Life Skills Coach and give some feedback on how things have been going (or not going) around here lately.
- Make dinner (there’s leftovers so I’m hoping to avoid that, or find some way to make scrambled eggs or cereal and milk sound like I’d been planning it all week).
- I would put some laundry away and put away a few other things around here before the housekeepers come tomorrow and do their job of hiding everything so they can clean around the clutter.
- Bathe or shower.
- Grocery shopping.
- Clean the bird cage.
- Call my mom, my dad, my in-laws, friends and family that think I have no interest in keeping in touch… (which isn’t true, I want to keep in touch, I just don’t want to talk to anyone, and the longer I wait, the less I want to hear how upset they are I haven’t called).
- Look at my to-do list for all the things I know I am forgetting.
But I am not doing any of those things. I am writing though. I seem to have just enough energy to type, and the part of my brain that thinks the kinds of thoughts I would write about never seems to need to be recharged. In fact, that’s the part of me that I wish would run out of energy, or shut off, or slow down, or take a break… Unfortunately it seems that at the rate my body and soul is running out of energy, my the thoughts in my mind are picking up speed. In fact, in a state of complete exhaustion where I am on my bed just a breath away from falling asleep, my mind will be on some kind of crazy supermarket race game, chasing as fast as it can up and down the aisles of my brain, picking up old (should be expired) cans of mistakes and failures, fresh bags of to-do lists, tall boxes of shame, anxiety and panic, and stacking them in the shopping cart like there’s no tomorrow (oh yeah, and maybe a bucket of intense fear that there is no tomorrow, too). So while my entire being is empty and drained and laying on the bed, my mind, and sometimes my heart, are racing like (you guessed it!) the Energizer Bunny.
I have about half an hour until I have to go pick up my theater daughter from rehearsal at school. I sure hope she’s in the mood for cereal or eggs.