Recently, I talked about a few ideas I had about boundaries with a few friends, and for the most part, I’ve had great conversations about how to segment off time. But… I wanted to talk about something that had come up, and something I think it’s hard to talk about because when we do this stuff, it’s supposed to be positive and empowering.
It all started with a share…
So, I shared this a few days ago – and one friend said to me that I was far too focussed on how I was feeling right now. So we talked about that and she said that all I need to focus on now is making sure that we *all* survive in the community – that ‘community’ won’t survive unless people get their heads out of their asses.
And that literally left me…well…breathless.
I’ve been trying to articulate a lot of what I’ve been thinking about and it’s beginning to come down to a couple of concepts.
1) I’ve got some fairly cruel-to-be-kind friends – a good or bad thing, depending on what I’m doing.
and 2) If I’m suffocating/drowning/got no spoons, I’m useless to my community, and in real world communities, those that can’t contribute and have in the past are often seen far better than we behave towards those around us in the community right now. And by community, really, the main ones I’m around are the mental health advocate and the indie author community.
First, get your own mask on
Regardless of what my friend believes, the rule about oxygen masks that’s oft quoted – get your own mask on before trying to help others is important. Possibly critical. I’ve spent the last few years struggling against that, but things aren’t getting easier for me. So, my first step is my ‘oxygen mask’. For that reason, and that reason alone, I’m ressurecting ‘SMSCDT’ or Social Media Self-Care downtime.
My second action is my silo – something I’ll be talking about in another blog post.
But I wanted to be clear on this – if you need to step back – whether this is something you’ve done over and over recently, or it’s the first time – though it’s hard, you have to follow your gut, or your heart. Be aware that some people won’t be happy – and that if you’re accused of letting them down, you can either stop and think as to whether they’re right, or if you’re being guilted (I’m pretty much in both camps. When I step back, if I’m working on stuff that needs sorted, I’ve got plans for that too.
Step back, or be ashes
As this all went down on my chat server, another two friends saw what was being said and put their opinions in – part of the opinion that was shared was that not only was I right to be stepping back, but it’s not my place to burn myself up to keep other people warm (there are a lot of these metaphors, huh?) and that if I didn’t step back soon, they wouldn’t be surprised if I was just a pile of ashes at the end of it. It was at that point the friend admitted that if I stepped back, long term, I wouldn’t be around for her stuff and that she was relying on me to get stuff done. Flattering as that is, it’s not changing that I’m on downtime.
But you take downtime regularly, don’t you?
Anyone that’s around on my social media knows that I take May off for my #Kaiatus, which often leads to a lot of work pulling showing up at the end of May. But, I’ve spent the last three years doing downtime and coming back whenever summoned. That’s not happening this time. And the next essay, which I’ve called ‘The Grain Silo’ (and is a part of the reason I finally went forward to write ‘And Miles to go Before I Sleep’) to explain why. But it’s about resting, not quitting, even if people feel like I’m deserting them. I don’t like that feeling, I’ll be honest, but I’m not sure what to do other than the path I’m on. WHen the road less travelled isn’t one I’ve ever been on, ever, it’s hard to know if it’s the right choice. But I guess I’m doing the best I can, and this is what it’ll take.
What’s your thought? Downtime, yay or nay? Should you consider community before self always? Are you going to be considering some time out, especially given the year we’ve all had?
Kai is a writer, author and avid reader. A mental health advocate, Ludosport athlete and coder. She’s the mother of two young adults, owned by two cats, and lives with her beloved in the Cotswolds.
If you measure winning as being the most useful overall rather than just today, then you need to think about the marathon as a whole.
You have to look after yourself first. When you are well and coping with the universe, then you can reach out and help others.
Regardless of whether or not people think that you are letting them down in the short term, if you don’t look after yourself then you’re never going to be as useful as you can be overall. So everyone loses out.
Inherently, I know all of this. I give the advice *all the time* to others to take space for themselves, to be true to their needs, to listen to what they feel is a self-care must, but it’s a bit ‘physician heal thyself’ deal with me. I do give the advice, and everyone normally agrees…right up until it’s me doing it. Because I’ll come back and bail others out, because I’ve not actually stepped back until very recently, fully, people are used to me just being around.
I’m extending this discussion today – for different reasons, unfortunately, and it’s not going to be the essay I wanted it to be. And it’s forced my hand a bit for my time off too.
Thanks for the comments!