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Balance.

My life is cluttered. I could front and say my life is “full” or “I’m really busy”, but I don’t think saying those things would be true or accurate. My life is cluttered. I work a regular schedule, but the nature of my work is pretty heavy. I use judo an jiu jitsu as an outlet for that stress, but I then I forget to make time for my family and non-grappling friends. I find myself squeezing in coffee and dinners and birthday parties only to realize that my apartment is a mess, I still haven’t renewed my NASW membership, and I have a stack of two weeks’ untouched mail on my dusty, streaky coffee table.

I like everything in my life. I love my job. I love training. I have an incredible family and outstanding friends. However, I leave almost no time for me to just chill out and be lazy. Then I have no motivation to use the time that I am at home to do the little manageable things, like clean my coffee table and open my mail. It seems too hard. Then I look at my apartment and realize how stretched I feel. In those moments, it seems like all my structure and scheduling creates a false sense of control over my life. I run from one commitment to the next, never fully present since I’m thinking about when I have to leave to do the next thing. I wonder how much I’m enjoying all the enjoyable things I’ve incorporated into my life.

When I think about slowing down, my biggest challenge is always my training schedule. I love judo. I love jiu jitsu. In my head, I envision myself doing both classes six days a week. That makes me feel happy. In reality, I could do that four days a week, and then get in one or two other training days. The thought of training six days a week makes me happy. However, that is not my reality. The reality is that I physically cannot do that. After a certain point, my endurance stops building and I start breaking down. I have a chronic autoimmune condition, which for me means I get sick more easily and more frequently than most other people. It also means I run myself down easily, and when I’m really being careless, I wind up in the hospital. Since I learned I had this condition, I’ve consistently been in denial. I want to do everything all the time. And I try and try, which leads me to disappointment in myself. I hate limitations. I think they are stupid. I don’t want to have any and there is still a big part of me that can’t accept that I do have limitations. I’ve scaled my judo training way, way, way back since I found myself unable to recover from the late class time.  It’s broken my heart, honestly. A part of me can’t accept that I can’t handle an 8:00 – 10:00 PM practice like other people can. I know we aren’t supposed to say, “I can’t”, but I can’t, at least not without consequences.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I want to make healthier decisions. I am horrible at taking care of myself.  About two weeks ago, I decided to cut weight for my jiu jitsu tournament next weekend. For some people, cutting weight is hard, but not impossible. For me, cutting weight is just about the dumbest choice I could make. Cutting weight means I have to reduce my calorie intake, run more, etc., etc. That would be OK for a lot of people who train. But I’m a girl who is already susceptible to fatigue, dizziness, dehydration, and bunch of other stuff even without cutting weight. So I was doing a great a job losing the weight, but I was walking around like a tispy zombie and sleeping 10 hours a night and not feeling rested. Yesterday morning, my lips were so pale that they were almost the same color as the rest of my face. So this morning, I decided to just fight the weight I am. My wins and losses are not going to be determined by my weight, and I want to fight strong. I have plenty of other things to get stressed out about right now without adding a weight cut.

A few weeks ago, I went back to therapy because I’m sick of the clutter. I know I’ll always feel some degree of stress, but I want to get better at setting realistic expectations for myself and just taking good care of myself. It was hard to follow through to get back to therapy because I knew I’d have to cut out a training day.  I found a therapist I thought would be a good fit, but her only available time slot is during my favorite jiu jitsu class. I almost backed out. It took a lot for me to rationalize that my mental health and well-being is worth a few months missed Tuesday night jiu jitsu. I am still not 100% convinced, but I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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