The art of REST …

So, I am a bit more of a spendthrift these days due to the changing dynamics of our working situation here at home, and part of that means that instead of buying personal development books to read, I have to order them from the library, and then wait patiently for my turn for the popular ones. One such book I have been waiting some time for was “You are a Badass – How to stop doubting your greatness and start living your awesome life” by Jen Sincero. I zoomed through it and finished it in a couple of days- that should mean it’s good, right? But actually, what it really meant, is that Covid finally caught me and I was isolating at home for a week.

Here I am then, lying in bed, feeling sorry for myself, trying to listen to the author telling me how awesome my life could (actually would) be, if I could just send good vibes out into the universe. If I could summon up some ‘source energy’ and let go of my ego – which she names ‘the big snooze’. Thing is, I am all for ‘positive psychology’ and I kind of believe in the laws of attraction (to a point), but this book is just not doing it for me. If you have read this book already, and you liked it, you would probably say right now that I have not taken the advice in the opening chapter – especially the part where she says you must stay OPEN minded to the thoughts and ideas. I promise I am trying hard to absorb it, I am trying to be open, but in reality it’s probably bad timing trying to celebrate your own awesomeness when you have covid and your mind is racing with thoughts, but your body aches all over and you can’t stop coughing, and peeing your pants and you know that there is a big list of stuff to do and everyone else in the house is avoiding you making you feel like a giant pain in the arse. I mean, I am reading the book because, well, I like reading about self development, I want to write my own book one day and you know I am 56 years old now and still feel like I haven’t worked out who I am or what the meaning of life is. Bloody existential crisis.

Back to the book, it is telling me to just get out there and do it. But I am stuck here in procrastination land wondering what it is that I can get out there and do.. Instead, of discovering my awesomeness, I am still sitting here like Kermit, drinking my tea and trying to understand what the hell happened. I then read that it’s not good to be self deprecating – well there goes my sense of humour down the tubes. Is having a laugh at your own expense really that bad for your subconcious? Oh god, who knew.

Faced with a declining sense of awesomeness I decide that I should move on to a different book, until I am feeling more open and in the mood to go forth and multiply my brilliance. So, I pick up that other pesky book I have been reading called “The Art of Rest – How to find respite in the modern age” by Claudia Hammond. This should be much more suited to my current state of being. This is all about the 10 best ways (according to the public) to find rest in the modern age. I chose this one before I got sick, because, well, I suck at rest. I have this belief that doing nothing = being lazy. Taking a break = being selfish. You know I love nothing more than a lie down with a good novel, or a binge watch of some programme on netflix, but ‘allowing’ myself the time and space to do this comes with an inner tug of war that ends up with me thinking I have to do those chores before I can get my rest, and then by that time I have missed my opportunity and well, I am called upon to do something else. But this is all my own fault that I don’t get to rest right, after all, I can choose to say no. Because we all have choices, right. I read that somewhere. I wonder how Kermit rests?

I read this book, tucked away in my bedroom while I am taking my enforced rest due to covid. Covid has made me feel bloody awful and I am fatigued, so reading is about all I am up for. Anyway, I get a bit further into this book, with as much of an open mind as I can muster, and realise that while I have been reading both of these books, the emotion that I am largely experiencing is that of resentment. Well, I think it is resentment, let me explain. The Badass book is making me feel that I should be able to rise above any challenges and barriers, to be successful (whatever that looks like) and the rest book is simply making me more aware of the fact that I don’t get quality rest, and I probably only have myself to thank for that. I get pissed off that ‘other people’ seem to get more time to rest and enjoy life than I do. I get bitter that our decisions of how we can spend our ‘free’ time are controlled by our need to provide care full time for Mitchell. That even if I try to plan to have free time, and rest time, and a social life, that it often comes crashing down because we are so short of caregivers and we can’t just leave Mitchell on his own. This resentment emotion has been building in my for the last couple of years, and has become more prominent during the pandemic. I put this down to the fact that I anticipated that this next life stage would be when I get some more freedom back, that Holly would become more independent once she left for University and that Mitchell might miraculously get some super duper caregivers that he related to and that when Phil stopped working that it would give me more breathing space. But I am not feeling it. It’s not happening. I can’t get passed the feeling that I should be doing other things with my life now that my babies are 18 years old (well, almost 19). And, don’t get me wrong I love my family, they are the best thing in my life. So, why do I feel resentment?

I go to my bookshelf and get out Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown (I do own this one), and go to the chapter on ‘Places we go when we compare’. In this chapter, Brene discusses the moment she realised the resentment is belongs in the family of envy (rather than anger). She talks about how we don’t really want to admit to emotions of jealousy, envy or resentment – after all they are not nice, positive emotions are they? But in this chapter, here is how she defined these 3 emotions:

  1. Envy occurs when we want something another person has.
  2. Jealousy is when we fear losing a relationship or a valued part of a relationship that we already have.
  3. RESENTMENT is the feeling of frustration, judgement, anger, better than, and/or hidden envy related to unfairness or injustice. It’s an emotion we often experience when we fail to set boundaries or ask for what we need, or when expectations let us down because they were based o nthings we can’t control, like, what other people think, what they feel, or how they are going to react.

What does this make me realise? I have gone into that lane of comparison. Our family is not any other family. I repeatedly quote to my daughter the saying that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and there I am, comparing where others are at, at this stage of life, and feeling joyless. I can also now see that when I get frustrated with my family for not doing ‘jobs’ around the house, it’s not just that no one is doing the jobs, it is also because I am feeling envy if/when they get to rest and I don’t. I am mad because I am bone tired and I want to rest too. As I said before I suck at rest, so therefore, I want to work on this. As Brene puts it, instead of thinking “what is that person doing wrong? or What should they be doing”, I need to think, what do I need but am afraid to ask for?

Covid has enforced me to rest without guilt or shame but I don’t want a repeat of Covid to be the only way I truly get rest. So, when those pesky resentment feelings start to arise, instead of anger at my family, and the world for not doing things, I am going to pause and ask myself, ‘what is it that I truly need, but am to afraid to ask for’.

Take care and don’t forget to rest.


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