Monday, November 11, 2013

Open letter (btw, I'm feeling more than a little whiny lately)

Dear family, friends, and people I may meet in the next several weeks (because I will meet you and I will want to be best friends and hang out):

In (more than) a word: I’m stressed.

I have been here before: over strung, over tired, feeling guilty when I can’t give time to people yet needing those people to let me talk out all my feelings of being over strung and over tired.

But this time I think I’ll do something different, by addressing it with this letter. I’m not calling this being proactive, because I’m already in the thick of it, stress wise, and who are we kidding – I will never be a planner-aheader. We’ll call this ground control (I don't think I'm using that term correctly; I'm trying to creatively say "get my life under control/get me grounded").

I will (try to) make this brief, and just say a few things about what I need from you and what you can expect from me for the next several weeks. Probably until 2014, to be honest, because there are holidays occurring over the next several weeks.

I need:
  1. You. Please don’t forget that. I need you. I really do.
  2. That said, I need to be able to say “no” to you (although please note I probably won’t say the word “no.” I will say, “Welllllllll…” followed by a big long apology/explanation about why I can’t spend time with you. And I will feel badly about it).
  3. Rest.
  4. To work on my self control.

I believe, during my many years of uninhibited extroversion and many interests in many arts and many things, that I have recognized before this teeny tiny issue I have with self control, and my lacking it.

I have realized more than once Рsay, oh, a million times Рthat I need to cool it and just focus. That I need to currrrb the action. Currrrrb the activity. Tennnnd to the basics. Ferm̩ the bouche (shut the mouth).

But when it comes to that term “self control,” while I know it is Biblical and thus I should care, it also sounds very hall monitorish and seems like a smaller thing on the list of things to do, so I usually write “N/A” in my mind and run away, hoping the hall monitor doesn’t see me skipping out on this detail again.

But really, I need self control.

One of our pastors at church recently quoted another of our pastors who said: “Insight is never healing.”

I have become aware that I need self control. I know that I need to say “no.” (Or at least to say, “Wellllllll…”). But I don’t do a damn thing about it. Here’s part of the reason why:

It boils down, really, to the fact that I just want people to like me. I don’t want anyone mad at me, ever. I really don’t want to hurt your feelings, ever. And, in case we’ve forgotten: I want you to like me.

So with that in mind, I have what some might term an irrational fear that in sending a message like this one here that says, “I’ll be in touch when I’m in touch,” that the reaction of some, or many, or all, will be: “Forget that broad. She doesn’t have time for me.”

Did I mention I really don’t ever want to make anyone mad? Yeah. You’re basically just not allowed to be mad at me. That should just be a rule. Although I’m not bossy enough to enforce it. Because bossiness usually comes with the responsibility of having people get mad at you sometimes.

So I am torn in bringing this up, because I so desperately need to just come to you on my own terms right now, but I so desperately, desperately, need you all in my life. And I don’t need you just for my own sense of self worth. I also really like you people.

Let me pause for a moment and say also that I don’t feel like y’all are banging my door down for my attention. So if you’re reading this and fearing that you are coming across as the needy one, fear not. You’re not.

That said, I try to make my policy with people in my life very clear and that is this: you can always call me, even at 3 a.m., if you need to talk. I don’t care if your “crisis” is just being really unhappy and uncomfortable with how you are feeling at 3 a.m., whether it makes sense or not. I’ve been there, thus I qualify that as a crisis, and Lord knows I’ve called people at 3 a.m. with that particular kind of crisis. And sometimes you just need distraction and need to talk about bubble gum or TV or wallpaper – something – to get your mind off your crisis-like feelings. I’ve made those phone calls, too, and you can call me and we can talk about wallpaper and bubble gum and I won’t ask you the hard questions except maybe “Are you OK?” before we hang up.

So that rule still stands. I’m not shutting you out. I am here for you. Just to be clear.

And so while you can and should still call me – or whomever it is in your life who you trust with your crises – I need you to meanwhile not be offended when I:
  1. Don’t reply to your (non-crisis) emails. Or:
  2. Non-crisis Facebook messages.
  3. Or non-crisis phone messages.

And I guess I’m asking for the same in return to my messages. If I call you in crisis, please call me back. If your latest email from me is one regarding bubble gum, you need not rush in your response. Or respond at all.

In the next several weeks, you might invite me to dinner or a party or whatever, and I may have space on the calendar for it. My body may be able to get in the car and get there. I may even be able to be charming while I’m there – though I’m not guaranteeing that these days.

What I’m severely lacking, I am finding, is the time and stamina needed to recover from these things.

I say, “OK, yeah, of course. I can do that, and that, and that, because look right here: space on the calendar!”

But then later I think, “My car and my living space are a huge mess, I’m eating Spaghettios for dinner at 10 p.m., I can’t sleep, I’M SO STRESSED OUT!!!!”

That part is afterthought.

Because at the time when asked to do something, I think:

A)     “Ooh, yay! People still like me! They want to spend time with me! I am validated once again!”



I’m not always this dramatic. A lot of times I’m able to say, “Meh. I’m happy watching a Disney flick tonight. Those friends will be there another weekend.” It doesn’t mean I love the Disney flick more than the friends, but it does mean I’m OK with not driving to see those friends and instead hang out with Simba for the evening.

But lately? I’m feeling a little dramatic. Actually I’m feeling very needy, because I am very needy, because I’m very stressed and very tired and need a lot of reassurance.

I’m going to wrap this up because I said I would keep it brief and clearly I haven’t done that.

It might sound like I’m being funny in what I’m saying above, but I am rather serious, and the writing of this was fueled by a pulsating blob of stress and worry that is very serious.

If you have a crisis, please email or call with a “may day” type message. If it’s very urgent, call twice.

If it’s anything else, bear with me. Love me. Don’t quit offering your time and listening ears, *please*, but if I say I can’t join you for an activity, just accept it. (Again, not that I’ve had a lot of push back from y’all, because I never really say “no” to invitations to activity).

And again, don’t quit offering your time and listening ears. Please don’t wait for me to pass this season of stress before you continue communicating with me. You don’t need to halt communication. That would be sad. I still want to hear you. I will read your emails and listen to your voice mails, and they will make me smile. And sometimes I will respond, and sometimes I will even be funny or charming.

Please assure me that your offer for a sushi date, or a phone date, or a non-date (if you just want to be friends or you’re married or something) is not the last offer you will ever extend to me.

Because I may have an irrational fear about this. And I am needy in my need to have it discredited more than once.

I love you. Please love me. I’m here for you. Please keep being there for me. Also: I’m cranky (that last point is just fair warning). 


  1. Have you ever noticed that rest time is usually written on the calendar in invisible ink. Because of that we often forget it is there and even dare to write over it with something far less important to our total well-being. Try writing rest-time in using soothing colors like autumn sky blue (I just made that up to prove I can spell autumn).
    Here in the heartland when the sky turns autumn blue the trees and bushes and gardens begin their long winter's rest. Of course the grass is having it's fall flush (but that is where the analogy breaks down). Back to the analogy: Plants need their rest to bloom their best. So do people. So do you. So put REST on the calendar and honor it as your best friend. BTW how do you make a blue pen write red? R-E-D of course. XOXO Pops

    1. i love you daddy. i so needed this.