Lacking Hyper Vigilance
I was hiking last night. It was a nice night, cool air and few people on the trails. As I wandered around in the woods, I thought about all the stuff that I have had to let go of recently. All the things that I had to loosen my grip and allow to fall away. There have been many over the past year, past few years actually.
I also had to acknowledge that as many things I have lost control of...almost as if my beginning to release my control has started an avalanche of sorts and now it feels, often, that I have control of almost nothing.
I do know that I really had control over very little in reality. But I did have a very well built construct where I worked very hard to keep all the plates spinning. But as I let go of things this past year, I found that I cared less about things that I have normally cared very much about. Signposts of control. My house, my appearance, what others thought. I cared less about how the house looked (ok it was marginally less but still it was less!), I was working from home and so I released getting dressed up every day for work and just allowed a different work uniform to evolve that did not include high heels and did include sweatpants, I found that I just didn’t care so much anymore what anyone else thought about me and I allowed my relationships to founder. Trusting that the ones that are meant to last will remain and those that go, not meant for me anymore.
In all the letting go, I feel as if I might have lost my way. It feels like a process started and I had no idea at the time that me caring less about things that I used to care a great deal about began a process that I was unaware was operational.
While hiking last night I thought about all the things lately that seem to slip my mind. I have forgotten to pay bills, not cared that phone calls have gone unreturned, totally spaced commitments and have really begun to pull back into myself and what I am willing to engage in. I have seen all these things happening over the past year and I just thought it was aging or apathy or both.
But last night I realized the thing that was really happening was that I had inadvertently let go of my hyper vigilance. This part of me that was alway on high alert and super duper crazy functional has begun to slip. I have never paid a bill that I have received late. I have almost never failed to show for something that I committed to doing, I have always been super responsive in returning calls and emails. I was once upon a time a person that had everyone’s birthdays written down and sent them a card every year. I sent Christmas cards and letters. I was super hyper responsible and I did it all...for decades.
But now I do not send Christmas cards. It started the year I separated from my husband. What was I going to do send a card to say we were getting a divorce but the kids were good? That felt a little much for a holiday card. So I skipped it one year and then I just lost interest. I just felt like my life after divorce was no longer all that interesting...I worked, I parented and who really wants to hear about that? I Facebook people happy birthday and only send cards on special or rare occasions.
Now all of this may seem to you like I am just slacking and I am but this slacking was really about me more authentically living my life. I was changing my exterior orientation to a more internal one. It began to matter more to me what I wanted and needed than all of my activity involving you, all directed and aimed at you having a good opinion of me. It isn’t that I don’t care about that anymore, I just care a whole lot less.
So as I moved through the wooden canyon, I realized that what was really missing was this ridiculous hyper vigilance that caused me to ALWAYS show up, do MORE, entertain MORE, add MORE spinning plates. I am not sure where I lost my lifelong commitment to hyper vigilance but it is indeed flagging and I really find that I don’t care. In fact, I really am not looking for it.
And I am going to call that progress. I was so busy in my past living my life so that you could see and approve that I was almost absent in my own life. I was just a being in motion, living for your acknowledgement and approval. Doing all the things so that you would see me and think well of me. Today, I do a lot less (which according to my mother is still a whole lot more than most people) still serving others and showing up for things but committing to what I am doing less often, doing generally less and slacking in a whole bunch of areas that previously I would have never allowed.
See I care more today what I think about me and I have decided that it is ok when I make a mistake, I fail to do something that I said I would or show up. I know this may not sound like progress to you, but it really is for me. Because in the past, on the rare occasion that I would fuck something up, I would feel like I was going to die. Seriously. Missing a doctor’s appointment was like some sort of cardinal sin that I felt like no matter how much I repented, I could never be forgiven for. Ok, so now you know the level of my insanity...
Mind you that I do not want to become someone who is unreliable, a flake and not to be counted upon...I just want the person who is happy with me to be me more than I want it to be you anymore. You are allowed to not think I am amazing, wonderful and awesome. And so am I. Those thoughts of imperfection are not fatal...who knew?
So as I walked last night, I realized what was missing in my life was this all pervasive hyper vigilance to perfectionism that used to run all of my days. And by that I am not saying that I was perfect, just that I thought perfect was a place I could actually get to and I was fucking dedicated to getting there. Today, I know that perfection isn’t a destination, it is an idea that keeps me forever working toward something that isn’t attainable and makes me nuts.
I don’t want to be perfect and I do not want to run around doing all the things anymore. I am much more content letting things happen and flow and sometimes that means that I am going to miss stuff, not show up where I am supposed to and let you down. And that is going to just have to be ok. I realized last night that while I was super functional for most of my life, I wasn’t happy. And my energetic commitment to my life purpose of meeting every expectation of you and myself made me kind of an asshole...well, really, totally an asshole.
I wasn’t a lot of fun. I was busy all the time and stressed to the max. I could never sit still and listen to you because I was over committed and had to eat standing up so that I would have time to pee later...I am not even kidding.
I do not want to live that way today. I hope that I can get to a place in my life where I take on less and am able to do what I commit to better with less unreturned phone calls and missed appointments and commitments. That really is a goal. But for today, I am just going to have let that go because I am not there. Apparently a recovering hyper vigilante needs some time in the pokey and by that I mean the slow lane. I am taking my turn at being the unreliable one, the one who doesn’t show up, the one who oversleeps...oh, don’t worry, it won’t last long because I am nothing if not productive and I cannot hold myself in high esteem if I become a person who cannot be counted on.
Today I am just more ok than ever before in that I am fallible, a maker of mistakes, a person who misses things and someone who does not have to pretend anymore that I even know where the hell all my shit is, let alone have it all together. And that is just ok today. Hyper vigilance is exhausting and I just don’t have the energy for it anymore. I am going to try to be normal vigilant. Whatever that looks like. I am going to have to let you know, because in truth, I don’t have a clue. But if I don't return your call, or miss your birthday, I guess you will then know that is my current version of normal vigilant...