When you’re exhausted and you know it

The last couple of years have seen several weak moments for my mind. From a B12 deficiency that caused year-round PMS in spurts to the endless rants and fights and tempers flying about being an adult about things like tile spacing and grouting and wood finish and bank accounts and such, there were many moments when I beat myself up for wanting closure on things that I have practically no control over. Just wanted to put in a word to say that after the experience, I know for sure that temper works and a lot of things we say are not in our control because it’s too damn dramatic to actually control them, are very much in our control. All I am trying to do now is to unlearn how I let the very act of trying to tame the madness and of having to deal with lazy, incompetent idiots get to me the way they did these last couple of years. I aced it at work a long time ago, because I had no choice in another country where “being chill” was part of the social fabric. But I seem to have high standards (pretty unwarranted, if you think about it) for desis, given how our only USP seems to be “getting shit done“. I need to channel the Malaysian in me who, at heart never really did give up on things were very much controllable, but who learnt how to tame her own wild reactions to laziness and incompetence. Once I do that, I will be good to go. It’s work in progress at the moment.

But what I want to talk about right now is not the moments of mental weakness. It’s a moment of physical weakness that I experienced a couple of days ago. The thing is, I don’t actually ever get physically down and out (TOUCHWOOD). I mean I have had the occasional flu, the occasional minor surgery, a cramp now and then and so on. But my energy levels rarely drop and I am never exactly out of commission (TOUCHWOOD). Till a couple of days ago, when my body gave up in varying degrees of giving up. First, there was a pointless meeting in the wilds of Bangalore with some lazy, incompetent people I had been nostalgic about from my last work stint in this city. The evening had me drinking 500 glasses of electral and Glucon D just to feel normal again. Then there was a domestic help hunt on the streets at 1 pm bang in the middle of the sizzling hot Bangalore sun after which, I uncharacteristically fell asleep for a good 2 hours. If it was a sign, I was clueless. The next morning, I did get out of bed but went right ahead and puked my innards out a few times, sweated out a 100+ fever after a long time, couldn’t stand, couldn’t sit, and was back in bed till late afternoon. When I did finally wake up, I finished writing an article. And that’s when it hit me. I haven’t had a break in almost a year and a half now since I started this freelancing stint. I mean I have had work travels and family travels, maybe even a weekend getaway when we could. I have had days when I didn’t do paid work of course but I was doing something that needed an outcome. Like making home-related lists, getting out for errands, and planning something of consequence. Boring things. Adult things. Things that were nothing like planning holiday travel. And that’s when it also hit me. That when you don’t have to wear work clothes and sit in a car and go to some place to work, the boundaries melt away without you even realising it. It is that fluid, that unnoticeable. I thought I had it in control but I clearly did not.

All of this just to say that I need boundaries again. Which is what I got myself yesterday when after working on a quick piece that didn’t require much work, I decided watch a crappy movie and just sit still. No lists, no plans, no work except a tiny bit of something I needed to do for my dad. Next up in the process is to have a zero day with absolutely no work. Except maybe planning a holiday. I remembered fondly how just three years ago, I actually managed to spend 2.5 months at work using work internet only to plan our Europe travel. Being of that little consequence, far too comfortable and even lazy allowed for it and it was also one of the things that made me opt out of full time employment. But I wasn’t planning on doing this much work, to be honest. Not to the point of opening myself up to weak body and brain moments. And in hindsight, those 2.5 months were pretty amazing! With bandwidth and resources to plan proper travels again starting this year, hopefully I will be able to channel some of that laziness and let go of the need to do errands and paid work all the goddamned time again. I know I need boundaries and I know how much I love doing nothing. So it can’t be that hard! I just need to remind my muscles – brain and body – that they have it in them to just bloody relax. I CAN DO THIS!

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