Love yourself where you’re at

All I want is everything, but life doesn’t work that way. Life is about making choices and setting priorities. You have to love yourself where you're at.

The dizziness comes on me like a wave. I’m burning up, and I want nothing more than to rip off my heavily beaded costume and find a cool, dark place to hide. When the show ends, I make it as far as the hallway backstage before collapsing on a chair, willing the world to stop spinning, stop pressing on me, just stop. I pray the dizziness will pass before I vomit on my kind cast mates, who stop to ask me if I’m okay.

And, I am okay.

But, my body has cruelly decided to remind me that I have limits.

I don’t believe in limits. I want to believe that anything is possible. I don’t want to say no even though I know that there are only so many things a person can say yes to.

The last few months I’ve packed my days with show rehearsals, jewelry classes, singing lessons, improv meetups, and blog posts. It felt fantastic to bounce from one activity to another, to look at my calendar and see so many spots filled. Then, it all became overwhelming.

I leave jewelry class early. I put off singing lessons. I stop going to improv. But, the free space I try to create only becomes filled with something else. There is always something else I want to do.

Sleep is elusive as is my appetite. My mind races with thoughts out of control, and I can’t keep up. My to-do list grows while my energy wanes. But, I refuse to admit that I need to slow down. There’s a show to prep for and new friends to make.

FOMO takes over, and I ignore the warning signs my body has been sending me for weeks.

“Slow down,” my aching muscles cry.

“Stop,” screams my overactive brain.

But, I won’t stop. I can’t stop. So, my body makes me.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope, which for most people means fainting. My body prefers the slow shutdown. First comes the crushing dizziness, then the inability to stand or walk, and finally, extreme light sensitivity. It can last 15 minutes or a couple of hours. While the episodes don’t happen often, they are frightening when they do.

As sit in the hallway after curtain call willing the episode to pass quickly, I know that I have once again pushed myself too far.

Pinterest loves to tell us that we all have the same 24 hours in a day like Beyonce. We should all be Beyonce, the whimsically designed pins imply.

Put-downs disguised as inspiration flood social media every day and reinforce the fear we are all prone to - the fear of missing out. Click To Tweet

I recently discovered The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. In this brilliant article, Christine discusses what it’s like to live with Lupus. When I read her article, I felt like I had finally stumbled across someone who understands that our days are not equal. We all may have the same 24 hours, but we were not all given the same number of spoons (energy) to get through the day.

Maybe you’re a high energy person with an unlimited number of spoons, and you really can do it all. But, most people aren’t like that. We berate ourselves for being unproductive while ignoring the fact that life is about making choices and setting priorities.

All I want is everything – to do it all, to be invincible – but life doesn’t work that way.

So, you have to love yourself where you’re at.

That night, a neighbor had to drive me home, and instead of going to a cast party I had been looking forward to, I crawled into bed and slept.

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, you might like Life Comes in Seasons.

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26 comments

  1. I have heard of the The Spoon Theory before! And I totally understand what it is. You have to take care of you. We can’t all be Beyonce as much as that would be totally awesome!

  2. I am the same way. I go and go and go until I crash. I always have something else I want to cram in on my free moments. I learned the hard way this past month that I must take breaks and give my body and soul time to rest. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have to say, when I was younger I used to do this and I would get rashes, headaches etc. . Now I am much better at nourishing my body with rest regularly and it makes a huge difference. Hope you are feeling better now!

  4. Oh yeah people with out health problems (and high energy bodies) and who live pain free lives whose bodies do everything they are supposed to have no idea how incredibly lucky they are.I think fainting is syndrome of some kind and not just stress or being over whelmed as the stereo type would indicate.

    Allie of
    http://www.allienyc.com

  5. I have this mindset… that I want to do it ALL and I want to do it all at the same time and don’t miss out and not slow down… fortunately, my body hasn’t reminded me yet that I need to slow down in such a drastic manner.

    Take care of yourself. It is true that we don’t all get the same amount of spoons (sadly!), but we can try to use our spoons as wisely as possible.

  6. I hadn’t heard of the spoon theory.
    Over the past few years my husband and I have both been trying to think things slower.. we are not always successful but we remind each other to stop and take a break.

  7. I first came across the spoon theory when I was first diagnosed with diabetes and man! It really helped to be able to explain some of what was happening in how I was feeling day to day. It seems like it was helpful to you too.

    Take care of yourself, you amazing woman! And, as always, I find your personal essays such good writing.

  8. What wonderful writing Ashley, the first sentence pulled me in and held me close. I’m all about pushing the limits or pretending there aren’t any but my body always reminds me that I’m wrong. Wow, Vasovagal Syncope sounds frightening. I hate when people compare themselves to famous people. I don’t care how many hours Beyonce has, my hours are mine and mine alone. I’m going to check out Life Comes In Seasons.

  9. Great post:) We do have our limits, and it’s good to always listen to what our body says, even when we don’t want to…sigh….

  10. That Beyonce quote is a total lie! I do not have the same 24 hours as Beyonce…she has an army of people on her team each with their own 24 hours and I just have me. Our bodies definitely let us know when its had enough.
    LaKita recently posted..Cilantro Lime Salad DressingMy Profile

  11. I’ve never heard of vasovagal syncope, but that has to be rough. I too always feel like the days fly by and I just don’t have enough time. I do know I’ll never finish off all of my to do list items! The spoon theory sounds like something I need to look into!

    Carrie
    curlycraftymom.com

  12. I am sending SO MUCH LOVE your way, momma. I understand. I have FOMO often, too, and have a hard time saying no.

    My friend said something similar to me the other day, too, regarding this theory, though she said she had a finite number of “units” to give out in a day. And that she’s had to say no to certain things in order to have a healthy balance, otherwise, she has no units left for herself. I thought it was a really beautiful metaphor and am interested in reading the Spoon Theory article you shared (thank you).

    Take good care of yourself, momma. Your body… it is your temple. It needs you as much as you need it.

    Sending great big *HUGS* and glad you have people backstage to help you when you need it most.
    Charlotte recently posted..Why I (mostly) stopped sharing my life on FacebookMy Profile

  13. We all have a little but of FOMO but i can only imagine how you must feel when you’ve gone through an episode. I’m glad that you are setting limits and listening to your body. Take care of yourself!

  14. Wow, I can really relate. While I don’t have that diagnosis – had to Google it – I so appreciate you sharing. I do have anxiety and I go into shutdown when I’m overwhelmed. For me that’s exhaustion or even anxiety symptoms like racing heart, shortness of breath.

  15. Oh dear…I didn’t know about this …by all means it’s remarkable how you manage to do so much and push yourself one step far…
    Our bodies reminds us where are humans but our goals reminds us we are as stronger as our dreams….!

  16. So well said! I had no idea you were having to deal with this, but I appreciate your vulnerability in sharing here. You’re right that we can’t do ALL the things all the time!

  17. I struggle with this as well. I also like to be in control and multi-task and have my hands in a zillion different things. I feel like I’m programmed to push, push, push, and then burn out. And it’s tough to recognize those signals and actually change my behavior to accommodate my physical and mental needs. I appreciate you sharing. Hope you’re able to rest up a bit, recharge, and gradually get better at juggling all your awesome endeavors. You are not alone in struggling with balance.

    Liz
    http://withwonderandwhimsy.com/2017/07/21/an-introduction-to-loralette/