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I felt like something ugly and draining snuck up and tried swallowing me whole this week.   And by the time I realized it was happening it was too late.  Call me One Big Trainwreck.  Stuck in quicksand.

This past week was midwinter break for a lot of families.  And while the company I work for does not observe the President’s Day holiday, many people take that day off anyways because the kids are off from school.

Burdened, alone and sometimes overwhelmed.  Those were some of the things I felt last week trying to get through work and covering for others.  I am always honored when my manager or another co-worker asks if I (a consultant who is not a permanent part of the team) wouldn’t mind being their backup contact while they are away, should others in the office need something urgent.  It feels good to be needed.  But I don’t like feeling alone.  I like having people around me, which is part of the reason I don’t like working from home.  I enjoy the constant interaction.  So when hardly anyone is around in the office it’s eerie.  And while I can handle just about anything that comes my way and speak on others’ behalfs while they’re out (mostly), it is draining.  I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.  And it gets really heavy sometimes. 

Perhaps I am even a teensy bit envious of those who get paid vacation time.  As a consultant I am only paid for hours I work, and typically my work engagements are a year or less in length.  So it is not always a good idea to schedule a leisurely vacation.  It might be during a crucial point in a project – a major milestone.  And I may still be processing the last residue of pain from my unemployed stretch a couple of years ago.  Meaning, don’t bitch about work.  Just DON’T.  And WORK, fivenineteen, WORK.  It is a privilege to work, not a right.

Jealousy be damned.  I am not a jealous type, so when it does leak into my being like it admittedly did thinking of everyone enjoying their vacations, it catches me off guard.  Sneaky bitch.

So while I am the queen of to-do lists, the big stuff didn’t get done this past week like I had hoped.   I mistakenly assumed that I would have a lot of catch up time on my hands in the office to tackle some more high-level, strategic work that’s needed attention.  But that was not the case at all.  Lots of Littles popped up.  Unexpected situations that needed attention.  Nothing too difficult to fix, but still time consuming.  And sometimes exhausting.

I think by Wednesday I was feeling a little ‘off.’  Hard to describe but I felt weighed down physically and mentally.  A little jittery, even without coffee.

L texted me sometime Tuesday or Wednesday asking if he could crash at my house Thursday night.  He has client meetings near my house sometimes and lives a ways from here and has done this on a couple of other occasions, on nights we’re not doing any of that popcorn ceiling scraping.  One time it was because there was a gas leak in the house he rents and he needed to stay elsewhere while the leak was being contained.

L is a wonderful friend for sure.  But it’s a very different dynamic having a guy over at my house just hanging out who truly is a great friend and nothing more.  I’m learning this very quickly. He just crashes on my couch and either leaves early in the morning to beat traffic or stays to get some work done at my house and leaves a little later and locks up.  On Thursday, the night he wanted to come crash at my place, I had dinner plans with a girlfriend and told him I won’t be home until late but would leave a house key hidden for him. 

Little did I know how the world would all come crashing down around me that Thursday.  Held off briefly by some incredible sushi and a couple glasses of wine with my dear friend T at Izumi.  Hands down the best sushi in the Seattle suburbs.  Mouth watering and spectacular, with a very charming sushi chef at the sushi bar who is a great conversationalist.  I could subsist on sushi there every day, even though it would be a little hard on my wallet. 

My mind started to wander during dinner and I felt preoccupied and restless.  Here I was having a fun night out with a wonderful friend and I was having some sort of anxiety thingy wash over me.  I knew when I got home that L and his friend’s dog would be there.  And I felt like that was going to be an invasion of my space that night, even though I’d told him a day or two prior it would be OK.  It was starting to feel like it wasn’t going to be.  And why was I feeling this way?  What’s the big deal?  IS it a big deal or is it kind of weird when a male friend wants to just randomly crash at your place occasionally?  I don’t know about you but I’ve never had a platonic friendship with a (straight) guy that went to that level.  And come to think of it neither with a gay guy friend either.  Why was I letting this upset me so much?  And oh yeah, once I got home I needed to start filling out some paperwork that an escrow agent sent for a neighbor who is selling his townhouse.  Stuff like that you cannot delay, and we’re a small, self-run HOA…and….and…And ahhhh, there I went.  Questioning my feelings and getting overwhelmed all at once.  Let the downward spiral begin.

Have you ever been so tired that you couldn’t relax and fall asleep?  I got home and L was chilling out watching TV with the dog.  My head hurt.  So much for great sushi, two glasses of wine and great friendship.  It all went *poof* once I got home.  For I knew I needed to get upstairs, fire up this somewhat creaky of a laptop (6 years old and showing its age; that’s another post for another time) and crack open the documentation the escrow agent needed filled out.

Of all times for my laptop here to act up.  I had a devil of a time getting applications to stay open without hanging, and trying to edit the .pdf that they sent us.  Why realtors and escrow agents use Acrobat Reader for their documentation – that needs editing – instead of something like Microsoft Word is beyond me.  Pain in the ASS.

I felt bad for neglecting L and went downstairs periodically to see how he was doing.  My eyebrows were feeling tightly knitted together and my whole body felt clenched up and tense.  He seemed fine, but that didn’t help me relax any further.  Just seemed like a lost cause.

By 11pm I was a wreck.  I’d done all I could on the documentation, sent it to our HOA treasurer for him to finish and decided to crawl into bed.  Hugged L goodnight and went upstairs to sleep. 

What happened next was surreal.  Keep in mind I am typically a very sound sleeper, so when I get clonked with a dose of insomnia, I freak out.  Which only makes it worse I’m sure.  I thought I had been sleeping but turns out it was just some tossing and turning and dozing.  Around 1:30 am I realized what it was.  L had gone to sleep with his iPad on with ESPN news feeds or something.  And the sound actually carried very well upstairs to my bedroom.  I thought I was losing my mind as I crawled out of bed and drifted downstairs.  L was blissfully asleep, snoring steadily.  After a few attempts to wake him he woke up, apologized and turned off the iPad.  Ahhh, finally.  I think I tried going back to sleep again but then realized I was too wound up despite being so tired.  I went downstairs yet again to grab a glass of water. 

And I sat on my living room floor and just sobbed.  And sobbed.  “I’m such a fucking MESS,” I blurted out.  What is WRONG with me?  Poor L was half asleep and groggy.  He mumbled “I’m sorry, ” and went back to sleep.

I went upstairs.  NOW what do I do?  Do I read a book?  Take a bubble bath?  I don’t have sleeping pills in my house because I don’t need them.  And I am a pharmaceutical whimp.  Even “non drowsy” allergy medicine gives me a super bad buzz.

I probably went to sleep – sort of – around 5am.  I probably cried a bit too because when I had to get up for work my eyes were all puffy.  Yeah, going to work with 2-3 hours sleep at the most.  Ugh. That was when I actually felt glad most of my co-workers were out of the office.

Somehow I made it through the day – hats off to coffee and adrenaline.  But by mid afternoon my vision was blurred and I knew I needed to finish up a few reports and head home.  To crash. Hard.

I felt ANGRY most of the weekend.  Angry for letting myself get all wound up and freaked out over things that really aren’t a big deal.  Questioning my emotions.  A (thankfully) rare night of insomnia that took 2 days to recover from.  And thinking ahead of how much more work there is to do with the townhouse improvements.  Tons more popcorn ceiling scraping upstairs and down, then sanding/priming, and repainting a few other bedroom walls.  How long is my townhouse going to be in a state of semi-wreck meanwhile?  And why the hell am I having a mini breakdown over things that aren’t really a big deal?  What is WRONG?  Why can’t I be one of those easy-breezy, laid back types who don’t let anything bother them? 

Well, it turns out the Universe always brings us what we need.  What I needed to bust out of this funk was a heavy dose of HOCKEY.  And that came served up hot and fresh on Sunday. 

I have not played two games in one day in years but this was exactly what I needed apparently.  I skated mid afternoon in a charity game benefitting the Seattle Ronald McDonald House.  The annual Hockey Challenge, in its 14th year has raised over $4 million dollars for the local house here and for this we could not be prouder.  It is a privilege and honor to skate in support of the House and I relished every moment today.

Later that night it was my regular league game.  Yeah, both games were losses tonight but only by what the scoreboards said.  It felt amazing to get out there and skate.  For when I’m on the ice, nothing else matters.  I have no mental room to multi-task and worry about anything else than what I am doing on the ice at that particular moment.  And you know what?

THAT is relaxing.  I should sleep very well.