The joys of exhaustion

I’ve been up since 6am. I did pause for lunch, but didn’t really stop until half past three this afternoon, and I’m not getting out of this chair any time soon. An actual chair at an actual table. After two years of life without a table to work at, this is a tad rapturous.

For most of my adult life – up until the last few months, really – I’ve pushed and caffeinated myself through exhaustion. I’ve never been able to work out if there is a) something physically wrong with me, that explains why I get so tired b) I try and do too much or c) I am in fact rather lazy. This has bugged me, and fear of option c has kept me drinking the coffee and making one more push. I’ve mostly been in the habit of only stopping when I was no longer able to move.

During the heat of last week, I made the decision to miss the afternoon coffee hit and instead crash out during the really sweaty part of the day. I’m doing it now. I’m really bone tired, body and mind are pretty wiped, and I’m not caffinating. I’m going to do some gentler things, wind down, luxuriate in the shower (it’s such a luxury not having to worry about how much water we have left) and go to bed, and maybe just lie there and listen to the trees.

Exhaustion may not seem like an obvious source of joy. There is a certain pleasure in the weariness that comes from a hard job now finished, but there’s more to it for me. It’s being able to feel ok about saying ‘ok, I’m all done, I need to stop now.’ It is fine to stop, no one round me is going to make snide remarks suggesting laziness. Furthermore, the guys have also worked like fiends today. That makes a lot of odds. The job of clearing up the boat is pretty much done. The work needed to render the flat comfortable is pretty much done. The fair sharing of labour is something I rejoice in. It feels good to be part of a team, and to be able to trust that team.

It is also good being able to trust, at least for today, that I’m not slacking. I’m not being lazy, or slow, or making excuses. I don’t have to contend with anyone competing to be more tired, more ill, so that I have to keep going to cover for that. I’m learning to make judgements about myself that are not wholly negative. I’m getting better at saying ‘yes I did a good enough job there and yes, I deserve a break now’ and the such.

I learned the slow way, that the people for whom I have to bleed myself dry, to be barely tolerated, are just not worth being around. I am tired. It’s safe to be tired. There’s definitely something to relish in all of that.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

2 responses to “The joys of exhaustion

  • Terra

    The part that says “I’ve never been able to work out if there is a) something physically wrong with me, that explains why I get so tired b) I try and do too much or c) I am in fact rather lazy” resonates with me. I feel like I’m glad I’m not the only one who experiences this. With the part that says, “It is also good being able to trust, at least for today, that I’m not slacking,” I feel like, “I wish I could trust that I’m not slacking.” In my case, I know that since I had mononucleosis (which most people have when they are younger, but I had at age 39), I just don’t have stamina. On one hand, I believe in listening to my body and resting when I need to rest, but on the other hand, I don’t really trust that to work, because I believe if I did that, I would not have any kind of life.

  • Nimue Brown

    I get that, too. I think pushing through for a good reason – like having a life – is very differnt from just grinding yourself all the time because you feel like you should, but it is a bloody hard sort of thing to juggle.

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