Therapist said yesterday that I was “the very last person who would take time off work unless it was necessary”. I was pleased that I gave that impression, but I’m not entirely sure it’s true. I’m maybe the last person to take time off work unless I’ve a socially sanctioned excuse, perhaps! But part of me certainly feels like I’m always on the lookout, always hopeful for a time when I don’t have to work.

I have just such a socially sanctioned event coming up from this evening. My uncle’s body had finally returned from Spain and from this evening and now begins the three day Catholic ritual – Rosary, Removal and Funeral. The funeral’s not actually until Saturday and so “technically” I don’t have to miss any work at all. And it’s in that technicality that guilt grows.

I’ve booked Friday off work in order to travel for the removal, but part of my brain is asking could I not have just gone straight after work and still made it in plenty of time? Sure I’d be under pressure and carrying a full week’s worth of exhaustion. Sure it’s the day after the four hours of extra Open Night work (tonight) that I’ve been dreading all month. And sure, I’m entitled to take time, and anyway my weekend will be half eaten by this before even facing into another week with two consecutive late nights, but …

… It’s hard not to challenge myself and ask if I’m a malingerer and an advantage taker.

Oh yeah, I’m not going to work the Open Night either. If it comes to it I’ll claim I’m going to the rosary. But I’m also not going to the rosary. I’m just going to protect myself a little bit.

And that feels selfish.

To not max myself out and utilise ever spare second of the day in order to “perform life” to some made up external expectations, to do any less than that always rings slightly as failure in my ears.

I’m not being honest though. This kind of performative living is one that serves no one except a fake audience set up in my mind to watch my every move and judge it. But no one is watching! No one cares! Everyone is too fucking busy with their own shit to be bothered with whether I’ve taken a small advantage of a loop hole to siphon back a small measure of energy that maybe I could have coped without. And if they did – here’s the thing – if I ever got the slightest inking that someone actually was judging my actions and finding them wanting, well then my defensive hackles would be up sky-high and then I’d finally be on my side.

Methinks the malingerer doth protest too much.

Defensiveness like that is a sure sign that I don’t trust my own motivations.

See, we’re back here again, in the self-blame and shame place. Where I’m questioning if I’m actually doing enough.

I said it yesterday to Therapist and I still believe it’s true (but oho! there is a niggling doubt, don’t doubt it!): I am doing the best I can. And when I make a decision to do less it’s because I’m looking at the long game. The marathon metaphor is, as ever, apt. I can’t go flat out right now; it doesn’t make logical sense; and yet and yet a part of my brain cries “faker!” and “lazy!” and all the usual recriminations I like to fling at myself to try and whip myself into bursts of activity and push push further.

I just don’t have it in me to react though. I’m a tired old mule and even the sting of the whip can’t drive anything more from my stumbling frame. By evening time even the harsh voice of my critic is growing weary and faint. Even my critic is too bloody tired to drive on towards anything more than I’m doing right now.

So it’s just going to have to be enough.

I’m getting a little better at letting things go – letting them gently fall to the wayside rather than crashing to the ground. I guess I could just call it prioritising. And it’s a strict process. It’s kind of interesting to realise your priorities at times like this: the things you have to carry, the things you can bear to leave behind, even when you didn’t think you could.

The only thing I really have to carry is family stuff. All the rest can fall away.

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