February 5th, 2015
I nearly gave up the “tenancy” on my Headspace this week. I was lying awake in the wee small hours of the morning worrying about the serious matters that are almost overwhelming at the moment. I even told Lovely Husband that I was going to stop sharing my WLR journey because other things were more important.
It came about because I had mentioned to someone in passing that I was struggling for ideas for an article and they came back with the comment “it’s only a bit of writing” (and I think I saw them roll their eyes at the same time). One sentence had made me feel utterly selfish and borderline “purest evil”.
I have a close friend and collaborator on a couple of projects who is also going through some very challenging times in her life. She, like me, finds herself a long way away from loved ones; taking on the role of cheerleader; but feeling guilty that she can’t “do more”. She confided in me that she had been really upset because someone had asked her “how can you go running with everything that’s going on?”
The reality of both our situations is that we are in “coping mode”. As much as I want my parents to come and live with me , if they don’t want to I can’t force them; as much as she wants to spend as much time as she can with her very ill sister – family commitments mean this isn’t a possibility.
I write. She is in artist. I have an interest in the Eurovision Song Contest; she has discovered running.
We don’t watch the thrice-weekly soaps; we don’t follow X-Factor or Celebrity Big Brother; and pretty much every day you will find both of us online and “working” from 4:30am onwards. This is partly because worry is giving us sleepless nights but also because writing/drawing/running/Eurovision research provides us with an, albeit temporary, distraction.
To onlookers it seems like pure indulgence but it is actually a means of staying sane. I have also encountered something similar on my weight loss journey. One particular extended family gathering was being planned and I suggested that I brought along a few items for the buffet.
I made the mistake of mentioning they were from the WLR website and were “weight-loss friendly” and I was told to bring them but not to expect anyone else to be “faffing around with diet food for you”. I didn’t expect anyone to “faff around”. I was more than capable of bringing food (with plenty to share) and would make my own choices when it came to what I did or didn’t eat at “the do” without “ramming my diet down other people’s throats”.
My friend recently posted a running time on social media and the comments in reply were exactly the same as those I got when I mentioned a recent radio appearance, basically, “lucky you, having the time to…”
As I’ve said many time before. Don’t jump to conclusions. What you think you are seeing and hearing may not be the true picture or it may just be a snapshot of something bigger. My friend went for her run at 4:45am. For half an hour because she had been up all night worrying about her sister, her father and her sons. The run was a head-clearing strategy; a means of escape for a mere thirty minutes. It recharged her batteries; it gave her the energy to get through another difficult day. It wasn’t “just a run”.
My radio slots on all things Eurovision are a point in time. They are a fifteen minute distraction – and the research (often done at ungodly hours of the night) is a means of challenging the anxiety which would otherwise keep me awake whilst I lie in bed pondering the difficulties my loved ones and I are currently facing.
I often read on the forums that WLR members find that others get impatient or annoyed about the fact that we WLR-ers can sometimes appear “selfish”. We can be made to feel guilty because we won’t have “just a small slice” of cake; or indulgent because we take forty minutes out to exercise.
It’s amazing how some people seem to think that going for a run is indulgent but sitting watching Coronation Street is a life essential. How some people constantly whinge that they “don’t have enough hours in the day” when they get up at 7:30am and sit in front of the television from 7pm at night until bedtime.
I’m currently putting in a minimum of sixteen hours a day – I don’t want a gold star; I don’t want people to pat me on the back; but I do want people to understand that what looks like “an indulgence” might be the one thing that is keeping someone upright and sane; that the “faffing about” is actually planning and preparation designed to make things easier; and that the only reason I have “enough hours in the day” is because I am making the most of every single second available to me.
I am doing some serious juggling; I am a “time management ninja” and I am well aware that a good many other people are doing exactly the same but are probably being made to feel guilty and have somehow acquired the label “selfish”.
To all of my fellow “selfish” WLR-ers – I offer my wholehearted support and respect; to those of you who may have formed an opinion of someone’s actions based on a “snapshot” I would ask you to look again; and to everyone here at Hudson HQ and WLR I send a huge hug and a hope that whatever difficulties you may be facing, that you find the strength and support to defeat them.
With a huge heartfelt hug.