Pressure. So much pressure. …but where does it come from? Me or “them?”
This has been one of those weeks where I have felt I was under extreme pressure all week. The week started off with me getting up early on Monday for a conference call that wasn’t actually scheduled till Tuesday. I needed to get up early anyway in order to have the four hours I need to get ready before I go to work for meetings so it was actually somewhat of a relief to have gotten the date wrong but that meant also getting up early the next day…which I did. “Issues” started flowing in from work Tuesday afternoon and I haven’t had a break since…
My job can be very intensive. I coordinate investigations, consult on workplace conflicts, and generally give advice on how to address problems. Often participants are very emotional and the consultations are intense. I have to be “on my game,” able to listen for variations of the truth, able to see through smoke screens to the facts, able to determine what laws apply and what solutions might work in a situation based on personalities and behaviors that I rely on others to describe. Therefore, I need to concentrate on what is being said, how it’s being said, and what is not said to make sure I manage a situation effectively.
Now imagine this…I’m on speakerphone attending a conference call about some highly emotional issue. I’m multitasking at my desk, looking up information, referencing reports, taking notes, and planning strategies with the people on the line. Over the baby monitor on my desk, I hear, “Donna I need to be cathed.” So I take the speakerphone with me, mute the line, glove up and take care of business, never missing a beat. Then he mouths, “I need nose spray,” so I apply the spray, then as I put down the spray, “can you make me some tea?” I continue to carry on my conversation and go make the tea. When I deliver it, his foot has come loose from the stirrups in the peddler so I fix that, his socks need to be pulled up and his shin needs scratching. I finish all this, still on the phone, and go back to my desk. Fifteen minutes later, “Sweetie, can you come here?” and it starts again.
Some days I do okay with this pace; other days I don’t. When the issues are intense or the stakes are high, I feel an intense internal conflict about who gets my attention at that moment. So far, I’ve managed to juggle it all– I can multitask like you wouldn’t believe, but the pressure is getting to me. Several times this week, I’ve just felt like I could not keep going like this. I would love to quit the dual role. I would love to go back to work and have someone else be the caregiver for a while but I can’t afford to do that. The cost would just be too much so I keep going. I admit there are times I almost wish I would get injured or sick so I would have an excuse to stop for a while. If that would happen, then insurance would pay for a temporary caregiver at least and the decision to stop being a caregiver, even temporarily, wouldn’t be mine to make.
I am very fearful that eventually, I won’t be able to keep up the pace. What will happen then? We have little savings but that would not last long if full-time care was needed. If we lost most of our resources, then we would be eligible for assistance but I don’t want to lose nearly everything so I can get some help. If I quit my job and worked part-time, we could not pay our bills. Lynn could go into a care facility but I couldn’t (not that I ever want him to have to do that) but if that happens, what happens to me, the caregiver, who has burned out, lost their income, lost their home, lost their savings?
I’m getting morbid and over-dramatic but it’s these types of thoughts that cause the pressure. I don’t want my worst fears to happen. I don’t want to lose our home or to have to put Lynn in a care facility; nor do I want to lose my job (believe it or not, I really like what I do). So I feel pressured…pressured to do my best at work so I don’t let down my colleagues; pressure to do my best for Lynn because I love him and am committed to him; pressure to try to be a supportive mother and friend; pressure to make it all work. Where does this pressure come from? From me. From my own expectations. From my own demands to do it all perfectly.
So maybe what I need to do is to find a pin…I think it’s time to create a small leak. Just a little leak to reduce some of the pressure; not so much as to make me explode or deflate entirely… just enough to stay afloat like a balloon that has lost its elasticity and becomes almost puncture-proof. That’s my goal. To become a low-pressure, rubbery balloon. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Or better yet, I guess I just need to turn it over to God and let him handle it because it’s just too much for me right now. So…God, this is Donna. Here… it’s yours. Thanks and Amen.