ctrl+alt+delete

I took a walk the other day. It was the first walk of what might be called “spring”–were it to actually show up. Rather than taking the opportunity to run errands or accomplish anything, I was acting on the advice of my sage therapist who suggested taking time away each day–just for me. The house was full of family and friends–which was wonderful. But it was getting a little chaotic for me, and I was getting a little twitchy. I needed a ctrl+alt+delete moment, so I put on a sweatshirt and took a two and half mile walk through the neighborhood on a route I’d created several years ago and never seem to deviate from. There are always new things to notice that usually make the walk interesting. It was freeing, I have to admit. And I enjoyed it immensely. I wasn’t sure what to do with so much undirected time, but after I stopped trying to figure out what I should be thinking about, I let my mind wander as I surveyed the scenery of my walk.

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Spring is trying, at least.

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Seeing spring slowly return conflicted me in a way I would have never thought of before. On one hand, it was comforting to see the cycle continuing and watching objectively as the flora was reborn, coming out of a long winter’s sleep,and knowing steamy days of summer were getting closer. On the other hand, it was hard to know that things–the world–kept moving forward while in so many way’s mine wasn’t–and wouldn’t. I felt a slight tinge of jealousy. I would like to say it gradually faded away, but it didn’t. Though after I acknowledged it, it seemed to bother me less.

I had recounted to my therapist how lucky I was to have such supportive friends and family surrounding me. Ken’s folks came from California to spend time with him and help me out. Though staying with relatives nearby, they come over every day and tackle the myriad projects Ken has outlined. “It gives me a chance to get away,” I said proudly. “What do you do when you get away?” she asked, eyes looking over the tops of her glasses. “Errands,” I said.

It was here where I learned that the time away that I feel I need every day needs to be a little more “me” centric–which I get. Caregiving comes with a lot of responsibility and pressure. “But once I went shopping…for clothes…for me,” I eagerly interjected. “Because you needed them?” she asked. “Yes,” I groaned.

I’m not certain that free-form “me” time is something that is realistic to get every day, but I do see her point and point of view, and I trust them both. If this Chicago “spring” weather would learn to cooperate walks could easily be a part of my daily routine, in addition to getting back to the gym.

Something else I’ve learned in talking with my therapist: I’m gifted at “intellectualizing”, which is a word I never imagined I’d be associated with. It sounds so…intellectual. I have to admit, I did take it as a compliment. Any sentence with “you” and “intellectualize” couldn’t be anything but, right? Well, damn Wikipedia! “…a defense mechanism where reasoning is used to block confrontation with an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress, by ‘using excessive and abstract ideation to avoid difficult feelings’.[1] It involves removing one’s self, emotionally, from a stressful event.”

Well, color me intellectualized! I’ve never done “this” before. Never been in this position, and like anyone, I’m just doing what I do the best way I know how. That being said, I do find it fascinating how your brain decides how unfamiliar types of situations are going to be handled. Like a board meeting of all your feelings is convened by the brain for each new situation and told to “take a powder” in this one. Brains are badass. But I do accept the challenge to do some work to better connect with my feelings when appropriate, as I see the benefit of such a defense mechanism, and I’m sure my brain employed it for good reason.

So, though not a compliment, not an insult either. Just an observation. (See, I can intellectualize here too in order to avoid feeling defective about being told I’m an intellectualizer). Wa-BAM!

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