When tolerance is a slow burn

I sort of wonder, not from a perspective of time necessarily, but a perspective of general emotion or gut feel—how your feelings manifest when you realise that something is not “the same”. We say “not the same” when it feels like something has changed drastically from what we’re used to. Perhaps even when something no longer meets our expectations or desires. I think it’s worth defining the difference between these two feelings: the first being when something is simply different, and requires a period of adjustment, and the second being when something affects us more deeply, that we struggle or even refuse to accept it.

I’m not really talking about the kind of change that happens in an instant—not like the sudden loss of a loved one, or a break-up—not those. It’s really the ones that creep up on you over time, that perhaps you feel like you realised the change too late, such that you end up with the second feeling of struggle and refusal.

Some recent events left me baffled as to how some connections with people could turn sour so quickly. I think I had assumed that things were pretty glossy, and my brain wanted them to stay that way. But our brains are powerful things. Deep down, I was feeling frustration. Looking back, I can almost pinpoint a single incident that felt like a catalyst for my declining motivation and mood. Was that the final straw? The final straw always feels like it’s supposed to be a huge hit. But in that moment, in that incident, I felt calm and rational. I felt a strange feeling of a dull “oh well, I can’t be bothered anymore”.

It’s entirely possible that over time, things were changing, but without me giving much of a shit, or maybe just inferring positivity all the time. Perhaps an underlying avoidance of having difficult conversations or doing difficult things. Sometimes, when things aren’t really that bothersome, we tolerate it. We tolerate it until the slight pieces of frustration fuse into a heavy weight, but by then we’ve become accustomed to how that feels on our back. Then the final straw doesn’t even feel like it hits.

It seemed that everywhere I looked, there were no clear answers. There wasn’t an easy way of finding the answers. The more I learned, the more questions I had. There wasn’t much I could do from there. My way of dealing with the frustration was to push forward and focus on other things, since a lot of the situation was out of my control. That was kind of someone else’s job at the time. I’m not always good at pushing things aside, and my emotions will often take over quickly, but I have strangely managed really well. I don’t know if it feels exactly like I’m channelling my energy into useful tasks, but it almost feels like a weird way of protesting.

I don’t know if I want to keep going, though. I know what it’s like to “go, go, go”, but this feels a lot like a guise for a train wreck waiting to happen. It doesn’t feel “go, go, go” in a way that makes sense. It doesn’t feel like I am using the energy to move on. It feels like I am using the energy to hide having to deal with what’s tough. I have noticed that my workouts feel so routine and I’m frankly getting bored of them. My trainer gave me a new program, and I’ve barely given it a chance, but I felt like absolute shit on day one of doing it. By the time I felt like I was rested from last week at work, it was Monday again. I had very little energy to cook food for lunch, much less go out and buy the groceries needed for said food. These are minor things. This is probably ordinary to some people. But what isn’t ordinary is literally having nightmares about the things that have bothered me. What isn’t ordinary is that something I really love—lifting weights—is something I don’t look forward to as much anymore.

What isn’t ordinary is the amount of chaos I feel like I’ve had in my view for the past little while. And what isn’t ordinary—and what I find most indicative of a problem—is that I feel like haven’t had the space to do things that are so integral to my being and me as a person. And when I do, I don’t seem to enjoy them. Even my daily habit of taking a photo of my outfit, that I’ve kept for about the past three years, feels like a chore. My usual activities are a struggle. I leave the thing that pained me in the first place, but I still get nightmares that I obviously didn’t ask for. It all feels rough.

Whatever is going on with me is wrong, off, and not my usual self. And recognising that is important to me. Things have stirred me recently, but it’s not as simple as deducing that I’ve burned out and need a break. It’s not that I’m out of control in a way that I need to get my shit together. It’s that I need to get myself together. I think the hardest part is actually figuring that out. And what is that? I don’t know exactly. It’s not about the small things that need doing as a result of my self-inflicted poor life balance (that came about from trying to deal with shit). It’s about working through the anxiety and some of the habits I’ve picked up from the misery. But it’s also about the habits I’ve picked up from distracting myself from the misery. Sometimes you cannot walk away from the problem and the source of the pain completely. Sometimes you have to peel off the layers that have stuck on you over time.

I definitely need space. Space looks different for different people. Maybe it’s staying at home. Maybe it’s going to an open space. Maybe it’s not interacting with people. Maybe it’s going out to a place where there are new and refreshing people (not for me buddy, I’m an introvert). I don’t know what that looks for me right now. But I know that it’s not just diving back into the stuff I enjoy in an effort to force it back into my life. It’s just space. In general. Space to breathe.

But I came back here to write. Because I remembered how this place grounds me. I remembered that, as much change as I’ve been through, and as much as it can feel like a poor effort to try after not writing a blog post for weeks on end, this is the place I created for the solace I need when I am struggling.

It doesn’t give me all the answers, but maybe answers aren’t what I need right now.

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