Friday, February 10, 2012

Surrendering to the emotional and physical mess; defining patience

When I was in grad school, I learned the word "somaticize:" to convert anxiety (or other psychological distress) into physical symptoms.
I suspect I am a somaticizer.  I've had a stressful week and I feel pretty awful, physically. I don't work my day job on Fridays and I slept until 1 PM today after not having slept during the night.
This month I am living with the promise "I will surrender patiently."
Surrender to what? For now:  EVERYTHING.

There is, I suppose, a danger of being a doormat if I surrender to everything. It certainly wouldn't be a reasonable exercise in some people's lives. For me, for this month, I thought I would try it.
Sometimes it's useful to take my tangled mess of physical and emotional symptoms and tease them apart to see what's what. On the other hand, that's an easy way for me to get what a friend of mine calls "the paralysis of analysis." There is so much "wrong" that I end up (A) not knowing where to start or (B) with an overwhelming list of ways to "fix things."
Yesterday I was feeling overworked and judging myself to be handling it badly. Last night and today I am tired and headachy. That is the emotional and physical reality to which I need to surrender.
Sleeping in was a surrender. Shaving my to do list for today to almost nothing is a surrender. My job, for now, is to give in.
Yesterday I was on the bus fuming about having too much work to do in too little time. "This is not surrendering patiently," I thought. Then I started wondering what I mean by patience.
Does patience mean I don't complain? Does patience mean I don't feel distressed? (I check the dictionary.) Well, shoot, that IS what patience means: "the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like."
Honestly, that doesn't sound like me. I am tempted to wiggle out of it… To choose another word. I have chosen these promises to expand, rather than continue, who I am.
What is the kate-ish road to patience?

When I am feeling as I did yesterday, I need to take time for a break… For breathing… Maybe even put the work aside and go out of the office for a talk with myself. I carry my wise self within me, but my prideful-monster-mind is louder and faster.

Like the old advice to count to 10 before saying something unfortunate, I need to leave myself space to recognize and process the emotions moving through me.
I go forward into the next week with two assignments:
  •  Continue to surrender to everything.
  •  Take a 10 breath* break whenever I feel the monsters rising.
* I fear that 10 breaths will take too long. I fear that if I cut it to four, I will rush. Even aiming for 10 will be helpful.

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