Even superheroes need recovery time.

I have the best of intentions and somehow, here I am, with nothing achieved in real life but a whole generation raised and married off in The Sims.

I would like to say to all busy people (you know who you are) that yes, I do understand this is a waste of time and yes, I do realise there are better things I could be doing and no, I do not have an army of house fairies to make everything fey and beautiful while I sit on the laptop all day.

In my defence (though I resent having to defend it) I've had a very busy week and only today where I didn't have to be doing something. And when I'm busy or have been busy, I need recovery time.

It's at this point that most busy people roll their eyes. They do not understand the idea of recovery time. They have busy lives too and they work full time and they come home and do all their jobs and they don't have time for recovery, they just get on with it (sigh).

And the evenings are enough for them, after the busy day; and the morning before they start it all again, that is enough for them too so that the opposite ends of the day feel, to them, as if they have had time to themselves before and after the busy-ness.

I never did get the hang of that. To me, evenings and mornings are a time of held breath either side of the part of the day when I need to put every last bit of effort into seeming as most people seem and managing those aspects of life which make it possible to live without too much want.

When you have lots of things to do, you are busy, but when you have lots of things to do and also, the whole time, have to be a version of yourself that isn't quite true, that's when the strain tells. After a busier week than normal, I need recovery time to re-establish the me who keeps me sane.

At this point, the busy person, thriving on their moments of hearth and home amongst the many hours of worldly-wares, has no idea what I mean by needing to be someone else. I expect they think I mean like when you act in a professional way at work, to give the right impression. No, not so.

It's like always being in a slight disguise, one which doesn't quite cover who you are but hides it enough so that you pass into the world and do what you need to without giving away everything precious.

That disguise is not easy to wear though and sometimes you don't get it right. Other times you need more layers so that there is nothing visible of the real you, it is all packed away inside the outer shell that everyone can see with their harsh, daylight-bright lamps for eyes.

And blessedly sometimes there is no disguise at all and the real you parades forth, resplendent, happy, loved, knowing that today is one of those rare times you feel comfortable in being abroad as yourself.

Most days when money needs to be made and people like to see me as a real person who can do real work, I at least have to flip the cape over my shoulders and pop on the little mask, the one that lets them see enough to know when I am laughing but not so much that they see when I cry.

Those days lead me back here, home again, resting, secretly revelling in the absolute peace of being just me, right now and right where I am.


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Some feelings take a while to filter...

It's true that strong feelings can descend from nowhere, like a whirlwind took you through every room in the house, bouncing off walls and leaving you exhausted and drained. But what about when your feelings are not strong? What happens when you don't seem able to feel them at all?

Those times when others are wailing and running about like children, making it seem as if their emotions are so very powerful they have no control over themselves. How quaint! Spare a thought for those of us who take so long to process important events we are still waiting for the first trickles of feelings to break through when everyone else has had the drama and gone home for tea.

Nothing like the meltdowns and stresses, not like the anxiety-induced shivers and tears. Not anything that could be deemed a proper emotion at all. Just a sense that if you were to think about it properly, there may be a feeling somewhere in the room with you. Probably.

Days later, weeks, months and the filtering process is finally starting to work. Like a reed bed on the bottom of the river, forcing the water to slow as it passes, catching tiny, sinking flotsam, the miscellanea of a life lived beneath the surface. There, the water is cleared of troubles and runs freely again.

And so, weeks later, my own filtering has worked enough so that I can feel it. see it for what it is, understand that these feelings are for here and that particular feeling is for there and some of those others are not ready to be felt at all yet.

How confusing it is when we are expected to understand and feel and react all in the same space of time! I suppose it's also mystifying for other people when they see us not doing these things, or doing them in the wrong order with no proper connection.

There is a connection, it is just a little bit like that river; it meanders and makes false turns and sometimes it runs too fast and rushes past where it should saunter. Then it slows and widens and has time to see where it is. But always it does carry on, whatever seems to be happening. Even when it is frozen, it is a river still and life exists within it.

Turning back I can see now what I left to one side, waiting for the time to be right to feel it and know it in its proper place. I waited long enough so that it would be done in the right way. This doesn't make those feelings any easier to have but it does mean they will be processed and not buried away.

Sometimes the most important part of any emotional reaction is giving yourself the time you need to have it, even if that time is measured to a different rule.


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No, no, I can't come out...

The smallest of things can keep you in the house, trapped, unable to function, unable to do the most basic of tasks like going to the bin right next to the back door. Setting one foot on the step is the same as bounding across the garden - that one foot feels as visible as your whole body and just as vulnerable.

Imagine trying to explain to a hardened housework enthusiast that it is impossible to empty your kitchen bin because next door are in their garden? That those three steps down to the bin are the same as a rope-bridge event and just as likely to get your adrenaline pumping.

Except, as usual, I'm overreacting. There is no drooling grisly waiting at the back door, or axe murderer or local teen gang bent on trouble. There are no B-movie monsters or small children singing. No, there is only the neighbour and her father doing their garden work.

There they are, right on the other side of the new fence, going up and down with happy, work-hard faces, doing their jobs and Being There, as close as if they were on my side of the fence and waiting for me.

What I should be doing is getting dressed in my work clothes and going out there to diminish the bonfire mountain, clip back the trees, tame the hedge, power-wash the paths, get rid of the clutter waiting for me to see it again (including the kitchen sink).

Unfortunately my work clothes are clothes I wear for work that pays, not work at home when I should really be dressed in pyjamas and slippers. The last time I did DIY or gardening I snagged my clothes on a sharp something and it made me even more wary of doing anything useful at home.

Also, let's be honest, if I do go down the back steps, even if only to the bin, next door might want to speak to me. Or might fix me with sideways looks and not speak, only think it. Or they will ignore me altogether but my mind will conjure the conversation we may have had and I'll suffer anyway.

Can anyone smell a but of over-thinking going on here? Or is that just the smell from the overflowing kitchen bin?

Perhaps I should trip out, quick as a flash and stare hard at the bin as if it mesmerises me and I am quite unable to tear away and notice anything else? And if they speak, I will look at the sky and smile, or run back in proper quick and try not to ricochet off the door.

Yes, this is a plan. I will concentrate so heavily on what I need to do that everything else will fade away, leaving me single-mindedly hoisting the enormous black bag into the bin then scurrying inside, dressing gown flapping in the winter sun and legs so fast they are a blur as the back door slams and I am safe again.


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