I am not myself

I have burned down my inner flame. It is so small that I sometimes can’t even make it out anymore. When listening for my enthusiasm to call out there is nothing.
It scares me sometimes. I know that this is part of the deal of being burned out, but since I’ve invested most of my days in leading a passionate life, it feels as if I have somehow failed.
Acting is my day job and has always been my element. When I am on stage I can breathe and be free. But the effort of getting there, to organize the costumes, the technicians, the props, seems too much for me these days. I also love to write and am being paid for writing plays and audio plays but the sheer task of reviewing seems too much right now.
I am loved and appreciated and recognized for all I am doing and yet I feel overwhelmed by the tiniest tasks.
I love my dog who is still with me with almost 16 years of age, but when she refuses to pee on our frequent tiny walks, I cry.

I am not myself.

Tears are lingering behind my eyes threatening to pour down any second with no apparent reason. The constant fatigue from the minute I wake up to the early hours I go to bed is wearing me out. Even after napping, I am still exhausted.
I feel like a washed-out version of my healthy vibrant self. I want to find an instant cure to be healthy and strong and full of energy again, but the only remedy seems to be time and rest, and patience.
If I was my boyfriend I would tell him to rest and be kind to himself and just sleep and eat and read and treat himself like the person he loves most in the world. But since I am JUST ME, I have a hard time accepting my condition without criticizing myself and trying to force myself into activity again.
My relationship with myself is strained. I look into the mirror and smile at and tell the woman in there that I love her, but I feel dishonest.
I’ll try to be passionate about the challenge to accept that I won’t be passionate about anything until I have recuperated from burning too brightly for too long.
Challenge accepted.

#burnout #bekindtoyourself #tiredofbeingtired #impatient #vulnerability #selflove #selfcare #mirrorwork #writing #writer #actress #innerflame #mentalhealth #challenge #rest #fatigue

The Other Woman

I am not a jealous person. Or so I thought. Recently I had to question this perception of myself. I am jealous of the long history that binds my boyfriend to his ex-wife. When I think of the joys and sorrows they shared over a period of twenty years, I get anxious if I can ever have that grown intimacy with him. We’ve been together for almost a year now and I am generally very happy with him. I would love to meet his Ex, she looks nice, we have the same taste in men (obviously), and I think her daughters are fabulous, so we would have a lot in common. But she is still hurt that I am the new woman. Even though they have been separated for 7 years before I came into my boyfriend’s life. I understand her feelings, she has been his one big love, they have been married for 14 years, and before that, they were together on and off for 6 more years, and even after they separated because the marriage really wasn’t happy at all, she still remained the number one woman in his life.
When he met me he knew this was serious and not only an affair and told her so and it hurt her. She has been very honest about this and I honor that.
But understanding doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt me. When I cannot go on a trip with my boyfriend and his daughters because it would be hard on her, I get it and I love that my man is so considerate that he doesn’t want to hurt her, but at the same time it hurt me. He is in a difficult situation and it is not about that trip really,- if he would say the girls want their Dad for themselves it wouldn’t bruise me at all. But that SHE determines our plans indirectly gives her so much power and makes me feel somehow insignificant. It feels as if my hurt doesn’t matter as much as hers. I feel like a drama-queen admitting this but it feels as if she were more important somehow. Prioritized. She gets mad easily and I don’t. She fights, I swallow my feelings.
When I told my boyfriend that the decision about that trip stung me he understood and said that he didn’t want to hurt me, but that he had to think of her feelings and hoped that I could live with his decision to not put her into that hurtful place.
Of course, I can. But it still hurts.
It is complicated.

#relationship #theotherwoman #love #jealousy #emotions #honesty #couples #partnership #lifewiththeex #expartners #thenewwoman #mentalhealth #talkingaboutit #takingmyselfserious #tears #itscomplicated #writinglife #writeeveryday #thoughts #feelings

time of my life

I’ve recently bought myself some time. I had overdrawn my time account, spent more than I had and the payback of the loan came with high interest. So I was told by two very wise advisors (my body and soul, they are quite a team) that I could not go on like this. I tried to argue with them, I begged and pleaded and told them that I couldn’t just take the time back, that I had obligations, that the world wasn’t a place where you could hold on to your time without retribution, but they didn’t listen. (They can be very stubborn) So they won and I gave in and bought my time back. (The price hurt me a little: it was a good portion of my pride) So here I am a little less proud, a little richer with life-time on my personal credit card. Now I breathe and live a little more. I can do that now. And now. And now.

#lifetime #time #breathe #selflove #selfcare #justbe #now #dontneedmuch #mylife #burnout #healing #depression #mentalhealth #listentoyourbody #bodywisdom #listentoyourheart #timeofmylife #grateful #norush #stressfree #nourish

Dear Me,

I wish I could trust you. I thought I did. I thought that I had overcome my fear of you being inherently selfish (age 6), or trying to betray my efforts to be beautiful(teen years and adolescence), or faking pain and dizziness(30ies) to get attention. I thought that I could love and trust you and that you could truly love and feel real feelings.
Now I am not so sure. I cannot trust you for longer than a moment these days. One moment, you tell me you feel fine, only to burst out into tears the next second. You say, you can cope, that you can simply discipline yourself into doing the things at hand, only to break down completely into a heap of misery and despair in the blink of an eye. When people ask me, how I am, I say fine, and catch myself listening to your voice saying: Are we now?
Apparently, we are not. Apparently, we are burned out. We are on the crossroads between giving in to feeling overwhelmed with almost anything and trying to move on and willing ourselves to get a grip.
So what’s it going to be then? I have no answer yet. Do you?

We seem to be stranded in this insecurity and shame about feeling this way. I feel like an impostor as if I was faking this whole exhaustion thing because I am not constantly crying. I can go grocery shopping or talk perfectly civilized with my neighbor. I can put up goat fences with my boyfriend and wrestle with blackberry thorns for an entire afternoon. I am not sick in the way that I am tied to my bed with no capacity to get up. I can even go to the gym or go running. And yet I am not well. I cannot cope. I am so tired.
So I will talk to my therapist later today. About you. About our relationship. Can you do couple therapy about your connection between you and yourself?
I hope we’ll figure this out. We’ve been through so much already. We’ve worked on our trust issues. It’s not as bad as it has been in the past. We can work it out. I trust that we will. I love you?

#burnout #depression #selftrust #selflove #workingthroughit #impostorsyndrom #shame #healing #myjourney #therapy #acting #writing #trust #emotions #feelings #thoughts #musings #journaling #hope

Now what?

So I am burned out. I cried for hours yesterday and just started again today after having told my boyfriend that I am much better. I called my sister and burst out crying, I couldn’t even face the messages she sent me about my play, I almost freaked out when my phone wouldn’t stop signaling me that messages had come in, I cried when the cookie policy popped up keeping me from reading my burnout test results, and I left a message on my director’s phone if he could think of another actress that might be suitable for my role. I am terrified of his fury and frustration and even though I swore that I wouldn’t leave him alone with this new production, I feel like an untrustworthy unreliable lazy failure. How can I even be burned out? I am an actress. Freelance. I am my own boss. I make a living by doing what I love. How can you burn out like that? Other actors would kill for the opportunity. I love that I have “Acting” as my day job. I feel appreciated and valued and seen. Of course, I also do theatre projects with teenagers 3 times a year and no all the plays I do are equally loved by me, but all are good fun, and some are really deeply set in my heart. So how can it be that I am burned out? I never have a day off, I also care for my parents and my boyfriend lives an hour away so I spend a lot of time in my car. But I love driving, I listen to audiobooks and podcasts and consider driving my me-time if I don’t have to be on the phone with somebody while driving. It doesn’t matter though. I cannot argue away the fact that I am burned out. Not being able to stop crying, bursting into tears frequently, feeling overwhelmed by the smallest tasks, that I am not able to do my job as well as I would normally do, that I don’t have enough time to get everything done properly, that I have no time for myself, and so on and so on. 

And naturally, I feel ashamed about this. I feel like I should get a grip. That this is just a poorly disguised excuse to get permission to be lazy and that everybody else is working hard and coping with life under much circumstances while I m not.

But the fact is: I cannot go on like this. If I ignore this state I am in right now I will end up in the hospital sooner or later. And I don’t want that. I want to be healthy and strong and thriving. I want to love myself and others and life as much as I can. And I can only do this if I take good care of myself now. 

Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”

I will do that now. I will place it over my mouth and breathe deeply. And once I’ve learned how to breathe again, I will assist others.

#burnout #itshappening #overwhelmed #depression #stress #mentalhealth #selfcare #selflove #shame #feelinglazy #failure #cantcope #alltoomuch #crying #nervousbreakdown #tears #takecare #takeabreak #feelingguilty #dreamjob #acting #writing #whyme #healing #healthcare

“Should have” won’t help me

Today I cracked. I woke up and felt like crying. It had been a reasonably restful night. My dog refused to pee at 2 am and we had to go out again around 3 am and at 6:30 am she pooped into my bed. (No she is not a puppy, she is a senior who cannot control what comes out of her behind anymore). After cleaning up I could resume sleeping (Thank God for laundromats), but I still felt miserable. The thought of leaving home yet again, of hitting the road and spending at least 2 hours in my car and on and on every day the next week for rehearsing a play I don’t love, and projects I don’t lust for was just too much.
I called my Mum because that’s what I’ve been doing every day since she had a stroke 3 years ago, and even though I wanted to sound cool and reassuring, I just started crying. Again. I had already cried while recording a message for my boyfriend that I wouldn’t come today after all because I was having a meltdown. I cried and felt guilty about crying and worrying my Loved Ones, who as it happens have enough on their emotional plates already. I told them that I wouldn’t have a day off until November 8th and that I couldn’t cope. They asked if I could maybe cancel something which of course I can’t because I have to be reliable and we are far too long into rehearsals already.
I should have said no in the first place.
But I didn’t.
I had been flattered that somebody new wanted to work with me and I had thought that it might be a challenge. Kafka. I’ve never played Kafka. And a Solo play. I love Monologues because I can run my lines as often as I wish without anybody being annoyed. But I still haven’t fallen in love with the play. No butterflies, no rush of adrenaline. Just the feeling of heavy-duty and responsibility toward the director and the theatre. And it is not even paid. Rehearsals cost me gas and parking fees and the shows will be randomly visited as always. But my pride tells me that I need to go through this. So I will. “Should haves” won’t help me with this. My decision is made. So I might as well stop crying and start working. But first I need to finish writing this other play for tomorrow. Then Kafka. one thing at a time. I’ll get through this.

#burnout #depression #mentalhealth #crying #cracking #meltdown #toomuch #cantcope #freelance #noweekend #norestforthewicked #dontcrywork #ODAAT #illgetthroughthis #icandothis #permissiontocry #sharing #vulnerability #permissiontofeelweak #selflove #writing #actress #theatre #homework

The imminent threat of honesty

Yesterday I went running. That’s nothing unusual, I go for my run regularly to wind down and reconnect with myself and nature. I started running when I had to move back in with my Dad at the age of 35. Living in your old teenage bedroom in the house where your parents had their most abhorrent fights is something that is not easy. It feels like failing, and it awakens old ghosts that have been haunting you for decades. I was scared of Dad’s choleric fits that had so overshadowed my childhood, scared that I would fall back into my old coping mechanisms of starving myself or binging and purging and I was scared that my old darkness would come back and swallow me whole. I wanted to run away from it all, to be free of my fears and worries about the future and my dark thoughts, and so, I ran. Every morning for at least an hour through the forest that envelops my childhood home. It was my me-time. I could let my thoughts run freely. I could breathe and feel light and free. I had the feeling that things weren’t as stuck as they seemed when I wasn’t moving. Ever since I have found back to running over and over again. Sometimes I would forget about it for months, I would tell myself that I didn’t have time to run, that I was too busy, that running was overrated, but eventually, I would find back to it, because it is my medicine along with writing.
So yesterday I went for my run after having spent the night restless and inwardly crying. I didn’t feel like running at all. I felt like staying in bed, pulling the blanket over my head, and hide from the world until miraculously everything would be bright and shiny. But since my experience had taught me that the world doesn’t solve all my problems by itself, and knowing that I always feel renewed and more balanced after running, I got up, slipped into my running gear, and went for the woods.
Now, in my neighborhood, people know each other by sight. I have my dog walking friends that I’ve been chatting amicably with for years, ( and I still don’t know their names, shame on me) and I know the walkers and runners that work out around the same hours as I do.
While I was on my way back home, still feeling like crying, this lady came up with her dog and 2 other dog friends. She is of the lovely friendly kind and I could tell that she somehow got that something was off. She looked at me and asked: “Everything alright?” while resuming her walk past me. And in that fracture of a second where I contemplated saying: NO instead of just going with the anticipated answer: YES, the air was suddenly charged with electricity. We both felt the threat of honesty between us. What if I replied with my truth, that I felt like crying all day, that it was all too much that I was on the verge of breaking down? This was a stranger after all, whom I met randomly and coincidentally in the forest while walking our dogs. It wouldn’t be appropriate to answer honestly. It would be totally off-kilter and unexpected. We both wouldn’t know how to handle it. It would feel awkward and wrong. And yet- why do we ask things like “Everything alright?” If we don’t want to hear the answer? Is this polite or kind? I know that we mean it to be friendly but how is this friendly if we really don’t want to know? What would have happened if I had broken down just then? If I had opened up? we both would have felt embarrassed and have avoided each other from that day on.
I didn’t crack though. I said: YEP and jogged on. Phew. The relief was almost palpable. And yet I couldn’t help pondering about this. What if?….

#honesty #vulnerability #showyourself #running #depression #openup #cracking #everythingalright #whatif #writing #musing #inthisworld #ODAAT #WECANDOHARDTHINGS

Treading on eggshells

Simply being there for somebody who is being visited by the black dog is very hard. Especially if you love him. Especially if you are like me and always want to solve things until everybody lives happily ever after. Especially if your desire to do something, anything, helpful, -while he feels like doing nothing and hating himself for it-, makes him feel even worse and irritated at the same time. It’s feeding my fear of being too much. Of being insensitive and annoying and unwanted in my me-ness. I want to be here for him. I want to send out calm and peace and reassurance but I fear that I emanate exactly what I feel inside. So instead of being there for him, I am deeply inside my own problems and inner turmoils. My therapist would say that I’d need to sit with the discomfort, and that’s exactly what I am doing right now. I am literally sitting outside at the garden table trying to put on a happy face, while he is inside at his computer facing the window that gives him a good view of his girlfriend in the garden. He feels miles away.

So I asked him if he wanted me to leave and he finally admitted that he did. He needs to be a dark cloud tonight and can’t be if I am there because he can’t help trying to get a grip with me around. I held him then and he cried. After staying like that for a long time, I left. I can be there for him best right now by not being there.

#depression #blackdog #beingthere #wecandohardthings #crying #givingup #praying #hoping #neverstoptrying #together #love #vulnerability #mentalhealth #relationship #healing #gettingthroughthis #youarenotalone

Dear Ego,

Don’t get me wrong, I love you, I am not one of those who strive to eliminate you or force you to remain silent forever. I appreciate you. You have been looking after me all my life, given that I was raised in the belief that I should put myself last, that whatever I did I should not be egoistic. You basically taught me that it was o.k. to nurture myself and love myself, even though I’ve been giving you quite a hard time. But you persevered and I am grateful for that. I think you were put here on earth to help my soul find her way within my physical form. If we are spiritual beings having a physical experience, you are basically our guide to not forget that the physical form is a wonderful gift, not to be shunned away of put last. Soul and body are equally precious, I think I finally get this now.
But,
I wish you wouldn’t take everything that is happening around you personally. When the black dog is visiting my boyfriend, it’s got nothing to do with you, o.k.? You do not have to compete with the Blacky, he is not your pet, and not anything you have to get mad at. You can be sad about his frequent visits and the state it leaves your Beloved in, but let me focus on the nurturing part instead. The dark dog doesn’t appreciate surroundings that are overflowing with light and love, so let me love myself and my boyfriend even harder when that canine is trying to sink his teeth into our joint life.
We can be a great team, you, my soul, my body, and me. So let’s conquer the hound and be pure love. We can do this together

#ego #mypointofview #theblackdog #depression #coping #healing #mentalhealth #love #relationships #conquer #persevere #selflove #belove #bethereforeachother #wecandothis #together

#bodysoulego #writer #writeeveryday #thoughts #musings #therapy

Dear Writing,

I fear I haven’t told you this enough in the past, so here it is: I love you. Sometimes you scare me because I fear that I am not good enough, sometimes you annoy me because I feel obliged to show up consistently,
sometimes I am ma at you because I feel guilty for having abandoned you for a while. But you are my best bosom friend.
Ever since I came across you through your twin sister, Reading, when I was too small to encounter you in a one on one meeting, I felt drawn to both of you. A little later I fell in love with your whole family: pens, ink( especially pink ink), stationery, books, diaries, journals, magazines,… the whole clan.
You have been and still are my go-to place when I feel low, when I’ve hit yet again my personal rock bottom, when I need answers, when I don’t know where to turn to, when I am clueless, how to go on.
When I feel lonely and abandoned and like no-one in the whole wide world will ever understand me or be anywhere nearly as embarrassing and hopeless as I am, I can turn to you and find solace. You build me up when nobody else can. You listen to me without judgment. You let me rage and cry and scream and whine and sob until I am truly done.
Then you present me with a new white page to start afresh. you have my back. You are there for me unconditionally. Always. You love me as I am. You change me subtly to a healthier me by just being there and waiting patiently for me to grow my own thoughts. You have saved my sanity and possibly my life over and over again. You nudge me gently into a more loving direction. You help me forgive myself and others and be merciful in my judgment. You are the best therapist I could ever have. You are my best friend, lover, partner, mother, father, all in one entity. You wrap me in love and understanding while giving me eternal freedom to try and chance anything I have the guts to explore.
I love you.
You are my blessing.
Thank you.

#writing #loveletter #therapy #healing #unconditionallove #ink #stationery #reading #vulnerability #forgiveness #gratefulness #mymedicine #freedom #blankpage #blessing #musings