Balance

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

tattoo-in-the-mirrorMy first tattoo was a crudely sketched set of drama masks on my right shoulder blade.

Comedy and Tragedy.

It was meant to symbolize not only my love of theater (raise your hand if you’d be surprised to hear I was active in drama when I was younger…), but also my propensity for extremes.

Comic, tragic.  Black, white.  Good, bad.  Right, wrong.  Everything and nothing.

My life is a study in superlatives.  Over and over again I find myself needing to learn about the land that lies between the poles: the middle ground of peace and meh.

I’ve noticed a new extreme.  It’s not new – in fact, now that I see it, I can see that I’ve been not seeing it for as long as I can remember.  It’s a pattern I’ve replayed time ang again with the same resuls, but only recently am I starting to recognize it for what it is.  Or at least, what it might be.

Obsession.

Whether it’s a project or an idea, a person or a goal, I throw myself into these things.  I lose myself completely.  I tell myself that it’s temporary – that if I can just focus long enough, that then – then

Then, what?

Then I can move on?  Then I can back off?  Then I can direct my attention towards another passion?

I don’t know, but I know that then never seems to come.  Before then ever has a chance of arriving, I notice all the other things – people and projects, priorities and commitments – that have been neglected in the interim.  I am reminded that life does not stop for my obsessions.  Time does not stand still and wait for then to arrive.

In my frustration and anger, I swing from obsession to abandonment, gather up the scattered pieces of the rest of my life, nurse back what I can salvage, and wait for the next bright and shiny and oh so much different from last time obsession to walk by me.

My past is quickly becoming a graveyard of abandoned obsessions.

And, more importantly, I’m no longer content to neglect and then rebuild the constants in my life.

It’s not OK to shove my children aside for weeks, and then try to make up for it with weeks of quality time.

It’s not aside to put my marriage on the back burner, and then desperately try to refertalize it with dates and long talks.

And it is not even OK to let the day to day – the laundry, the dishes, the grocery shopping, the basics – go unattended so along that it becomes something that has to be done right now.  I mean, yes, sometimes life gets busy and that happens.  But this is a pattern I keep repeating over and over and over again.

I run at top speed until we’re all coasting on fumes, and then I refuel just to do it all over again.  There’s no maintenance or consistency.

This isn’t working for me anymore.  I’m losing big chunks of my life in the recovery periods – I’m missing big chunks of their lives.  And it’s exhausting.  It’s a constant state of pure adrenaline or total depletion.  Back and forth and back and forth with no equilibrium to count on.

I don’t want to run in this circle anymore.

I need to find the balance.

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  1. Avitable says:

    Obviously the solution is that you just need a second you. Can that one stay at my house?

  2. fidget says:

    i am forever chasing balance

    • Miss Britt says:

      @fidget, any tips you can spare me? :-)

      • fidget says:

        @Miss Britt, People think i’m weird for having chickens in my suburban backyard but they help. i give them food, they give me eggs and there is no having to interpret our relationship. Daily reminder of simple actions yield simple but welcome results… other then that, I can’t help. I’m still struggling with the kids time vs marriage time vs just me damn it time matrix

  3. Britt's mom says:

    Alright. FIRST you need to take a breath, relax, and stop beating the crap out of yourself. Awareness is good. Self-abuse is pointless and exhausting.

    Baby girl, you’ll get it. You ARE getting it. And the plain and simple truth is that there ARE times when “balls to the walls” is appropriate.

    And I wholeheartedly disagree with your description of your past. I truly think you have accomplished some incredible things. Did you think it was all a linear journey? It ain’t.

    I adore you.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Britt’s mom, wow.

      This wasn’t at all beating the crap out of myself.

      I don’t understand why whenever I say “I recognize this pattern in myself and I don’t like it. It’s not working for me” – people say that I’m beating myself up.

      I don’t have an expectation of perfection. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to recognize things that aren’t working so that you can try and do things differently.

      “And I wholeheartedly disagree with your description of your past. I truly think you have accomplished some incredible things. Did you think it was all a linear journey? It ain’t.”

      Well yeah – that’s part of it. But the other part is true, too. :-)

  4. heather says:

    I do the same thing… Let me know what you find out, m’kay.

  5. Finn says:

    Balance is the theme in life, I believe. Finding it is a journey, and what our balance is changes as much we ourselves do.

    You can still have your passions, you just need to spread it all out, take smaller bites so you get a well-rounded meal every day. It takes practice to find what feels right for you, but you will get it.

    Plus? You’re not even 30. You’re not supposed to have it figured out yet.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Finn, “You can still have your passions, you just need to spread it all out, take smaller bites so you get a well-rounded meal every day. It takes practice to find what feels right for you, but you will get it.”

      Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking this morning. I need to learn smaller bites.

      “Plus? You’re not even 30. You’re not supposed to have it figured out yet.”

      I’m aware of that. ;-)

      Sheesh – you and my mom today!! LOL

  6. Dawn says:

    Shoulder blades are supposed to stick out?!?! I forgot; it’s been so long.

    ANYway… ;-)

    You’ll figure it out. You always do. Don’t forget to breathe a lot. Maybe that — taking the deep breath — will slow you down to a comfortable pace that works for everyone.

  7. When you find it will you show me how to get there too? I’ve been striving for balance and yet it seems ever elusive for me.

  8. whall says:

    At the risk of sounding cliche or marketing-filled, I’ve learned with my mind (but not necessarily with my actions) that balance, variety and moderation* are important keys to happiness and health, both physical and mental.

    I think I have an addictive personality that has me throwing myself into things much the same as you. We’re like TWINS! :)

    * these are terms trademarked by a fruit juice but in no way detract from the message I get from it.

  9. Shash says:

    I do this too. Maybe we can find the balance together and compare notes. I need all the help I can get!!

    When I first saw the photo, I thought you meant balance was to get a tattoo on the OTHER shoulder blade.

    You didn’t mean that though, did you?

  10. ~jtm says:

    I think @whall has it correct, addictive personality. I’ve got one as well. My husband lovingly paints me a christmas card every year, each one illustrates my obsession over the last year, ~sigh~ it’s a strange snapshot of my life.
    Meanwhile we live in chaos.
    I can’t seem to get passionately obsessed with housework.

  11. Ms Batman says:

    Living with Bi Polar Disorder is similar in that there are extremes. My extremes just happen to be in my moods AND my activities. I swing from overjoyed and full of life and energy and fun, but completely unfocused on anything, to lethargic, cranky, reclusive almost. Maybe it’s not the same, but I can empathize. I look in the rear view mirror of my life and see abandoned projects, friends, relationships. I look ahead and tell myself Not this time. I try, I really do try, but sometimes my disease takes over and someone or something gets left by the wayside.

  12. NYCWD says:

    When you find it, can you send some over to my house?

    I lost mine 15 years ago, and have been looking for it ever since.

  13. MonsteRawr says:

    I don’t really know what to tell you; at the risk of sounding cliche only Miss Britt knows what will work for Miss Britt. BUT, I can tell you that the very fact that you came to this realization shows an impressive level of self-awareness. Whatever it is that you need to do, I know it’s within your grasp. (As long as it doesn’t involve giving up this blog; if that’s the case, to hell with balance!)

  14. You and I have this in common. My obsessions last until I feel either that I know enough to let it go or that I’ll never get it/be good at it so I drop it or that it’s not as interesting as I thought it would be.

    Steve accuses me of being all or nothing, black or white, and I tell him that’s good, because he’s nothing but shades of gray. That makes us good together. We balance each other out.

    If it’s not working for you, then it’s not. For me, it’s how I’m creative. I don’t begrudge it like I used to. I accept it. I take it for what it’s worth. I use it to my advantage, because when I’m obsessed, I’m growing.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @lynn@human, being, Jared and I are like that too – and I find that I teach him how to be more passionate and he teaches me how to be a little more gray.

  15. Becky says:

    I’ve been struggling a lot with regaining my equilibrium after adding children to my life. I will say that as far as the house goes, I’ve found both The Simple Mom website and The FlyLady have good keep your house from falling apart systems. They are both based on the same idea of having a basic schedule to be sure you hit all the high spots on a regular basis. The FlyLady is a bit more treacle sweet but is more comprehensive and has more follow through while the Simple Mom is more self-accountable.

  16. Oh, and by the way, who said that balance means that every day, you have just enough give and just enough take to keep the teeter totter completely level?

    A therapist once told me that my way of balancing things–going from one extreme to the other, as us folks with Bipolar II tend to–is actually achieving balance. It’s what balance looks like to me. It doesn’t matter if it looks unbalanced to others. That’s what I mean by accepting it.

    My way of balancing is running from one side of the room to the other. Susie’s is standing still and barely moving at all. Both work.

  17. Hilly says:

    I’m the woman who very much makes “to do” lists then never really does any of the stuff until it’s the very last minute and it’s all out of hand and shit. I think my new goal is to do things sooner than later and not procrastinate as I have always done.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Hilly, i’d say you’re making progress on that goal.

      I’d also say it’s weird to respond to a comment from you online when you are sitting 20 feet away from me.

  18. i love and embrace my “balls to the wall and then crash” self. honestly, i don’t think i would be happy any other way. clearly you are looking for another way, though. unfortunately i have no useful tips…don’t know any. all i know is there are only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. we can only do so much before something inevitably gets shoved aside.

    wait! light bulb! they say that folks wanting to lose weight should write down everything they eat for a week and people watching their pennies should track each and every item they buy for a month. perhaps you should print out a week, in half hour increments, and write down every damn thing you do. then you can physically see where your time goes the way folks can see where their money goes.

    whew, that light bulb moment was exhausting. i think i need to go to happy hour to celebrate.

    xoxo

  19. p.s. i fucking LOVE the way you did that photo. point for britt!

  20. Sybil Law says:

    It sounds like the balance is trying to find you, too. :)

  21. brittany says:

    This is becoming more and more an issue for me, and it scares me. Especially the time I am passing of with my kids. The house…I am meh about. But the kids…the kids thing scares me.

  22. Maria says:

    I made the mistake of reading some of the other comments before I commented myself and now nothing I say sounds good enough. Prolific bastards. Hmph.

    I struggle with that balance too. Of course I’m much less busy than you but still. Struggle. :)

  23. LeSombre says:

    I’m a little late to the party. ;)

    Balance is awesome. I wish you find it. I find mine by acknowledging my extremes. Looks like you’re on the right track.

  24. Faiqa says:

    I’ve found that it’s cyclical. I achieve equilibrium, life injects something new, then I have to reorganize and achieve equilibrium again. It’s not a destination that’s permanent. At least, for me.

    And. Your posts are showing up like a MILLION years later in my feed. Which explains my poor participation as of late.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Faiqa, It’s not a destination. Definitely not. It’s just a matter of where I’m at right now and seeing that right now – I need to tweak some things.

  25. Jessica says:

    gah! I do the same thing. The past two years I have made it my New Years Resolution to NOT MULTI TASK. Instead, I focus on only doing one thing at a time, but doing it damn well and 100% present. Oddly enough, it works. No one has died, the house hasn’t burnt up, school hasn’t kicked me out, and so far no divorce papers. Go figure- the world didn’t come to a jarring halt.

  26. Doreen Zakem says:

    Hi Miss Britt!

    I have been a follower for a time here and enjoy your blog.

    Sounds to me as though “maybe” you are just growing up some and realizing how your behavior affects others and also, and most importantly, how it effects you. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us!!

    (hope I used affect and effect correctly! lol)

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Doreen Zakem, hmm – I’m not really sure how I feel about this. I appreciate you taking the time to comment – but honestly? That’s a little condescending and sounds like you’re insinuating that up until this point I haven’t been aware that my behavior affects other people.

      I can assure you, that’s not the case.

      • Doreen says:

        @Miss Britt,

        well, I definitely didn’t mean my comment the way you took it. that is one problem with all this emailing, comments, etc. It is up to how the reader interprets it which may not be how the writer meant it at all! sorry if I offended you in any way.

  27. When I first saw your post I thought you had posted a picture of your butt. And I thought “Awesome! Britt posted a picture of her ass in a mirror! How cool is that!” And then as I started reading it there was all “shoulder” and I had to look at the picture again. And then I kind of felt like a dumbass. But I laughed. Just wanted you to know. xoxo.

  28. leendaluu says:

    I’m so glad you told me that was your shoulder blade (and after i crossed my eyes and squinted I saw that)…before that it was the world’s scariest ass

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