02 December 2012

At some point, you know enough

I went to visit a friend of mine a little while back, to talk about … well, life, the universe, and everything I suppose. He does personal coaching work and leads group spirituality workshops (after leaving a successful career in software development, believe it or not) and has generously offered to help me any way he can. He’s one of the few people outside of my family to have witnessed all of my story so far, and he’s been a great support to me through so many parts of this difficult journey. I am blessed by his friendship.

Anyhow, as we were talking, I realized that what I’ve been feeling most often these days is frustration: it seems as though further treatment is a waste of time (recognizing as I say this that I’m probably wrong). It feels like there’s no more to ‘uncover’, nothing else to ‘dig up’ or ‘unearth’ or ‘face squarely’. I’ve done all the thinking. I’ve processed all I can stand to process, at least for now. Yeah, there might be more stuff buried down in there (actually I know there are a few things that still need to be washed out, but they’re just now starting to appear, and I have the sense that it’s not quite time to do that work yet). He had a good answer for me:

At some point, you know enough.

You can keep reading the self-help books, keep attending workshops, keep searching and reaching and trying to find the answers … but at some point, you know enough. At some point, what you really need to do is just pick yourself up and start living. Wherever you are, with whatever you have, no matter how inadequate your resources may seem to be.

After all, life keeps on happening while we’re reading and attending workshops and meditating. Our inner lives most certainly need attention – even more so if we have unhealthy thought patterns that need to be changed – but maybe, just maybe, I know enough now to just get on with getting on.

My acupuncturist had said the same sort of thing to me: she encouraged me to stop thinking about “when I get better” and to instead focus on the moment, to realize that “right now, this is what my life looks like”, to learn to live right now with the resources I have, few though they may seem to be. Who knows what better will look like in another six months? Right now, this is what my life looks like. Better is a relative term. I am better now than I was before. I can do more. I sleep more soundly, often without waking at all in the night. The chest pain is now only occasional rather than constant. I can drive to town, do a bunch of errands, and drive home. I’ll be tired, but I can still make supper when I get back. These are major improvements.

I’m just getting on with getting on. I do as much as I can, and sometimes I do a bit too much and sometimes I don’t do as much as I’d like. Okay, I rarely do as much as I’d like, but we all know that my concept of “a reasonable day’s work” is badly skewed, so that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. In the fall I was doing chores every morning, hoping that come winter I’d be able to be the farmer on duty. As it got colder, though, my body called a halt by taking my feet out from under me for a couple of weeks. I didn’t post about it, but it was kind of scary … the palindromic arthritis that occasionally affects my ankle joints flared up noisily for awhile, forcing me to walk with a cane for about two weeks, and to walk rather gingerly for another week after that. It passed, as it always does, but I took it as a clear sign that I had been overextending myself. The Boy has taken up the chores now – fortunately it’s not a huge job, just 15-20 minutes twice a day, and I help out whenever I can, but I had really wanted to do it myself this winter. I don’t like being unable to do the things I feel like I ought to be able to do … I feel like I ought to be well by now, like there’s nothing more to be gained by resting and I need to get off my lazy behind and get back to having a busy and productive life.

But when I overextend myself, I end up shouting at someone, or crying, or in physical pain, or putting myself to bed at 7 pm so as not to inflict myself on my family any more than is absolutely necessary. I do know that overextending myself isn’t a valid option. it isn’t a smart choice. The smart thing to do is to carefully try adding one more thing and see how that goes. Then adding one more thing after that, and seeing how that goes. Unfortunately, I still haven’t figured out the subtle clues that indicate “you are almost out of spoons, you need to slow down now” and I only realize that I’ve overdone it after it’s too late.

Presumably there are subtle warning signs that will tell me what “approaching empty” feels like, but I haven’t learned to recognize them reliably yet. I suppose that would be the next thing I need to learn … not quite sure how best to go about learning it though.

Hmm. Maybe that’s what I need to work on next.

I don’t want to do that work yet though. Right now, I’m going to finish my holiday knitting (projects 6 and 7 are both underway, and both are more than half done!) and drink tea by the fire. Maybe for today, that’s enough.


  1. Sandy8:27 am

    I notice that this blog has been in existence since 2005. I found it last week, skimmed a couple of entries and bookmarked it because it's Canadian and I love yarn and knitting.

    Friday is my day to read a couple of blogs that are new to me, so here I am. Serendipitous, I think, that I should choose this particular entry. For over twenty years, I have been intuitively following a journey of self-knowledge and self-improvement. It has been a long, sometimes painful, sometimes joyful struggle. This year, as I approached the age of sixty, I was a jumble of conflicted emotions until I recently came to a similar conclusion. I no longer make lists of self-help books to read. I no longer chide myself about all the tasks I wasn't able to accomplish each day. On my sore knees, and with my multiple food and chemical sensitivities, I sometimes hobble, sometimes strut through each day, doing what I can, and as I go to sleep at night, I give thanks to the divine for continuing to look after me. That's it. The eternal wisdom of "one day at a time", the eternal Now.

    Thank you so much for validating my conclusion by letting me know that at least one other person has reached the same conclusion. Yes, at some point, we do know enough. Applause!

  2. Anonymous9:17 am

    Thank you for your blog on enough is enough, I anm an iraq vet and a survior of rape while inthe military. I am fighting the VA for my benefits and ;have great anxiety.reading your blog on this subject let me know that there are others, I too thought i was having a heart attack the first time i had the chest pain, I have read every book, tried to understand, went to classes offered on breathing techniqes and meditation. It is good but doesnt always work, I have the night mares, and wake up dont sleep, like you i might just come home jump into bed and that is it. I dont function, but lately i realize i am letting this rule my life and i am not living life. I need to work on thatnow, i know this will not change but ZI need to live. thank you again for pointing this out...Blessings Eda

  3. Sandy, thank you for taking the time to comment here ... it makes me feel so good to know that people read what I write and find value in it! I wanted to answer you sooner, but my Mental Health Flu took me into the Darkness for awhile ... right about the time you posted here. Your words helped me find my way back out, so thank you!

    Eda, I am so sorry for your troubles. PTSD really stinks, and living with it requires a very finely tuned balance between making room for the (very real, very annoying, very frustrating) symptoms while not letting the sickness 'own your life'. It's really, really hard. I think the key is to keep trying different approaches until you find something that works for you, and to accept that the approaches you need may change over time. Sometimes, I need more rest, sometimes I need more activity. Learning what the body's clues are that say "rest now" and "get up now" seems to be the key ... something I'm still working on. Best of luck to you on the journey!


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