Remember the real life “Runaway Bride”?
I’m taking you way back to 2005, when a woman named Jennifer Wilbanks went missing. The search went from a small town in Georgia, to a nationwide hunt. People assumed her fiancé killed her. But then she called him from New Mexico saying she was kidnapped and gave a full description of the suspects. Keep in mind, this is YEARS before the novel Gone Girl.
Now remember how she made the whole thing up to get out of her massive wedding with 28 bridesmaids??
I remember this story because everyone said things like, “you knew she was crazy, I mean look at her eyes.”
But then I noticed people kind of drift off and we were all probably thinking… if I faked my own disappearance, here’s how I would do it….
We all get to that point, where life is a bullet train and something is going to stop us. Or we have to stop ourselves.
RUNNING ON EMPTY BEFORE RUNNING AWAY
Before I go on, let’s get one thing straight: I never faked my own disappearance.
In fact, about a year ago, it was the exact opposite. I was feeling like my daily life had become routine. I wanted to push myself further, achieve more, carpe diem! You know?
So I went full speed ahead. With two toddlers, a full time job (with crazy hours), a husband and a lot of gardening, I told myself: “Let’s take on more!”
I started this blog because I felt like there was no information for working parents to juggle it all. “You should add a YouTube channel!” said some of my coworkers. Yes!! Obviously. And while I was at it, I figured why not take an evening business crash course?? I loved every minute of it! Never mind I had to be up before 2 am to get to work. And on my last day of the course, as I was pitching my business idea, I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd baby.
Seriously, bring it, life!! What else?
I’m not being sarcastic here. I was 110 mph in the fast lane. Exactly what I set out to do.
BUSY IS AN UNHEALTHY ADDICTION
I was addicted. Being busy was my drug and being able to list off accomplishments was my high.
I would list off everything I had done for the day as soon as my husband walked through the door. I waited for the “great job, honey.” He was always impressed and I felt exhausted.
It’s funny, as I was writing this and reflecting, an article popped up on the DailyMail detailing this exact psychology. And we do get a rush of dopamine from “busyness”. But when we get addicted, it means something else — like trying to avoid other feelings, using accomplishments as a status symbol or we are just plain bad at relaxing.
I constantly had a “to do” list running through my mind. “I have to…” started every thought and every sentence.
One day, I remembered an interview I did with Dr. Michael Roizen with the Cleveland Clinic. He and Dr. Oz coauthored a series of books, one being “You: Staying Young”. It’s an encyclopedia sized guide on how to slow the aging process.
As we sat there in his office with a treadmill desk and full natural light, he told me the biggest stress that ages us is “nagging stress.”
He told me that for months, his screen door was broken on his back door. Every day, he thought “I need to get that fixed.” He says that kind of stress takes the biggest toll on us: the nagging stressors that are always in the back of our minds.
GOING COLD TURKEY
December 26th. I stopped.
I allowed myself – even forced myself – to put things off.
I postponed plans with friends. I let laundry stay in the basket. I made PBJ for dinner (my kids thought I was a hero). I binge watched an entire first season of a show. I’ve never let myself do that. Writing was set aside. My business plan for a side hustle went into a lull phase. I didn’t let my mind drift to those “I have to’s”.
And do you know what happened?? Nothing.
Life went on. For everyone.
Contrary to what I thought a year ago, no one spent their time or energy having high expectations for my life. Just me.
This “Office Space” mentality didn’t last long.
Eventually, I had to get back to fully balanced meals. I felt that itch to write, explore, create and take giant leaps. And the laundry!! That had to be folded. My girls were going to daycare in mismatched socks.
So in the end, my biggest accomplishment over the last couple months?? I practiced the art of ebb and flow, realizing there’s a need for both.
You need to be able to take that mental and emotional break in order to avoid the breakdown (i.e. faking your own kidnapping). Life does go on if you’re not running the world for everyone. And most importantly, it’s vital to your health to say “It’s okay…”