The enemy

I consider myself lucky because I don't have enemies these days. In the past I have, unfortunately, known people who wished me ill. Some of these people actually caused physical, emotional, and psychological damage. But that time in my life is over, thank God. These days, my greatest enemy is...

Stress.

I bet you thought I was going to say myself, right? Well, at one time in my life that would have been true. I have been at war with myself off and on for most of my 40+ years. But not anymore. If there is one thing that years of therapy has done for me, it is to remove my ennui toward who I am. No, I am comfortable with myself. I know who I am, what I love, what I need, and what I want. I have a realistic sense of my own self-worth and a willingness to work hard for the good things I deserve, whether those are relationships, better health, or just quiet down-time.

A lot of my stress comes from my job. Most of it, if I'm being truthful. When things are good there, I love it, stress and all. Lately, things have been difficult, and I am feeling the change. I also have stress related to my RA. That is a vicious cycle, because stress causes flares, and of course the flares, which are so painful, cause more stress. Some of my medications make me feel sick, and that causes stress too. Stress keeps me from sleeping well. I have been having nightmares about things from the past - dark things that I haven't given head-space for months now. My rest is broken. My RA demands at least eight hours of sleep and is happier with ten - for the past four or five nights, I've been awake from two o'clock until five or so, unable to get back to sleep because of - you guessed it - stress. Getting back to sleep at five-thirty and then having to get up in an hour just makes me feel more tired. Working full time does not provide for mid-day naps, and going to school full time means I can't really rest when I get home. Something's got to give, and soon! I'm a little worried that it is going to be me.

I meditate. I exercise. I do yoga. I cut down caffeine in the latter part of the day. I pray. I actively work to release negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones, but the stress remains. I can feel it tightening in the pit of my stomach right now, as a matter of fact. When stress is self-created, I can move beyond it with a bit of effort and some time. When stress is situational and I can't walk away from the situation, most of my efforts to relieve the stress come to nothing.

And that's where I am today. I don't have any solutions or special insight into this conundrum. Hey - maybe I could win the lottery and take the next three years off work just to focus on school! Oh, right - that's likely to happen. Oh well. I have a paper to write today. Christmas cookies to bake. Kids who need my attention. And tomorrow is Monday, so somewhere in there, I need to sleep. Hopefully without dreams.

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