Thursday, May 12, 2011


This is a Thursday. At 10 a.m.  And for the first time since I can remember in a long time, I am sitting on my couch in my pajamas and I don't have to go anywhere or be somewhere, or carry something, price something, make something, sell something, ship something, cook something, deliver something....I could go on.  Kind of like Lloyd Dobler....

 I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.

Honestly, I don't want that as my career right now either.  At least not today.  Not yesterday either.  Probably not tomorrow. 

My name is Vanessa.  And I'm a workaholic.  I've been on a binge and now I have to deal with the consequences.  My life is way out of balance.  I'm not Martha Stewart.  I'm just a unfocused person with too many butterfly projects that I sometimes manage well and sometimes get out of control.  Right now, my projects are out of control.  This is the ugly underbelly of the life of an entrepreneur.  I am addicted to busyness to help me believe I have the illusion of some control.  I have a lot of things going on around me that are way outside of my control.  Everyone has ways of coping with stress.  My way is to work.  It's a very socially acceptable way of dealing with stress in our culture, but it's not really very effective and it doesn't really help. 

In my case, it is making things more stressful.  Because everyday, I wake up and think, "I am behind. I have to hurry.  There is no way to get it all done.  I HAVE to get it all done. I will feel good when I get it all done."  I don't get it all done. I don't feel good. And I wouldn't feel good even if I did finish it all because I would think up more things to do.  I find it difficult to ever relax.  I sneak work on days I should be resting.  My family misses me because even when I am here, I am not really here.  I'm off in busy-land doing my busy-thing so I don't have to face the things that scare me, or trust in a God I cannot see, or feel the things I need to feel. I will push relationships aside to cling to my busyness. I will also push aside food, pleasure, sleep, and personal hygiene to maintain my working.  It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic. 

I've always been this way.  I learned it at home.  I remember just about stroking out  on busyness in high school when I got mono, but college was where I really went crazy, probably because I worked for not one, but TWO workaholic professors.  My favorite cartoon is The Incredibles, especially Dash.  Remember in the movie when his mom, Elasty-Girl tells him he can run "as fast as he can"  and he becomes delighted and repeats with bliss "As FAST as I can!?"     That's how I feel when I can work with nothing to stop me. Except, my dad coined a phrase that is more accurate of us...."Faster than I can." 

When I googled "workaholic"  and found the Workaholics Anonymous page, it had a quiz of 20 questions to see if you might be a workaholic.  If you answer yes to 3 of them, you might be.  I answered yes to all 20.

If I was you, I would be thinking, "What's the big deal?  So you work. There are worse ways to be in the world."   Which is true.  I mean, line up all the addictions in the world according to their level of damage and being addicted to work is maybe on the low end of the spectrum.  Which is comforting until you come face to face with the fact that the trajectory of your relationship with your kids isn't anywhere near what you hope for.  That you are almost incapacitated by your busyness and unable to help others around you. That you have strangled your friendships. That you are denying the kind of spiritual life you say you believe and that your church and your husband teach. That for all your real-ness, you are faking confidence, faking accomplishments, faking living, faking wholeness, faking happiness. 

Unlike other addictions, you can't just give up work.  And there are seasons that are busier than others.  But if I stop enough to acknowledge it,  I know when I am on a binge. By then it is usually too late to stop until I get sick, have a massive argument with my husband, or run full tilt into some other momentum stopper.

These binges are directly related to stress, which is unavoidable.  A peep into my mental windows?  Robb is traveling a lot and has a lot of extra duties.  Do I slow down to accommodate his busyness?  Just the opposite...I match his pace to deal with my missing him. A series of things breaks or needs repair  (this time: the roof, the fridge, the food processor and the cars)  Even if we have money set aside in the emergency fund, I will kick into high gear trying to sell more stuff on Ebay, craigslist and etsy.  These things rarely generate enough money to really cover the need, but I will plow over everyone and everything in my way to make extra money as if we are in a situation of Marshall law, excusing myself for being brusque with the kids, probably scaring them in the process.  All for the illusion of controlling the situation. But writing is supposed to help. So I am writing.

And honestly, I don't know how I will ever adjust the value I place on being a hard worker.  Robb laughed a bit when we talked about it the other night. I think he was a little amused that this was the first time I had ever considered that being a workaholic isn't a compliment. "You think it's more Godly to be a workaholic, don't you?"  he asked.  I twisted my lips into an ironic line, "Who cares if your Godly if you work hard?" I countered, shamefacedly. 

I need to change.

I didn't want to write this post.  I waver between believing it is self-indulgent garbage and being ashamed to show what I am really doing and thinking.   On the other hand, I look back over the last three months and see with 20/20 that everything that happened from re-making Heartwood, to the show being canceled, from the end of the Emotionally Healthy series to Lent, from the roof leaking to the refrigerator dying, as a unique combination of events that has broken me down.  I know that it is God gunning for me to be more than a scattered spaz with 9 tabs open in Firefox who can't remember when I'm standing in the bathroom whether I went pee or not.  That I was created for more than this.   I know it. But I don't  know how to get to that more place.  Or what more even is.  I guess, for now, I'm just accepting that the way I instinctively react to stress is not necessarily the best way to deal with it.

More later.  I hope.


Sandy said...

For a butterfly to land on you, you must be still. So much easier to say than do. Good luck and you are in my prayers.

Into Vintage said...

I think this is an awesome post! Busy-ness has always been the way I work around things I don't want to deal with. I've forgotten how to relax or if I do, I feel guilty. Being busy means I might earn some money so better to be busy, right? Etc.

LOL about the 9 tabs. Thanks for being so open about this topic.

Holly said...

"to be more than a scattered spaz with 9 tabs open in Firefox who can't remember when I'm standing in the bathroom whether I went pee or not." Ah! I love that!

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