The Exhausted Place

When I was pregnant, imagining what Life With a Newborn would be like, I saw a tired, bleary-eyed version of myself shuffling to and from my child’s nursery.  I thought I’d be exhausted all the time, barely able to keep my eyes open.

And then Lil Mil arrived.  And those first few days were tough (so tough).  But after about a week or so, Lil Mil settled into a fairly predictable sleep pattern and was only waking up twice at night, which meant I was getting plenty of uninterrupted sleep. 

Life was rosy.  I was creative.  I was productive.  I was having fun. 

I was well-rested.

Operative word:  was.

I am tired.  So tired.  My head hurts, my eyes burn, my back aches.  I feel the opposite of creative.  So uncreative that I can’t think of a clever antonym to describe my uncreativity.  I haven’t written a blog post in nearly a week.  I’ve made no progress on my book.  There have been days where I’ve stared at my computer screen, watching my malfunctioning cursor bounce around the page for the.  Whole.  Day.  Without writing a word. 

This is what I was missing.  This is what I didn’t understand. 

I thought creativity was something you could actively cultivate, no matter what the circumstance.  I thought creativity was just a matter of will.  That productivity was a choice.  That phrases like “I don’t have the energy” or “I’m so tired I can’t think” were just things people said to make themselves feel better about the fact that they hadn’t done any of the things they said they were going to do.

I don’t have the energy.

I’m so tired I can’t think.

I get it now. 

Time (or the lack thereof) is not the biggest obstacle to creative productivity.  Exhaustion is.  If I had felt like this during the early weeks of Lil Mil’s life, I might have abandoned Embrace the Detour all together.  I definitely wouldn’t have finished a draft of my book on time.  And I wouldn’t have blogged regularly, either.  I wouldn’ve have had anything to say.

This Exhausted Place is not a happy place.  It is a decidedly un-rosy place.  A place of half-empty glasses and partly cloudy skies.  A place where energetic, optimistic people become grouchy slugs.  Panic percolates.  Resentment builds. Unease settles in, becomes the undercurrent for everything else.

The longer we stay here, the worse it gets.  The harder it is to get out.   

The Exhausted Place is inhabited by exhausted people.  People like the Exhausted Me.  If you see her in the supermarket, it’s probably best to avoid her.  Which will be easy, since she’s too exhausted to see you, anyway.

I don’t like the Exhausted Me.  She’s boring.  She’s too emotional.  She’s kinda mean.  She makes things more difficult than they have to be.  I don’t like her, but when I look in the mirror, there she is.  Dull eyes.  Sallow skin.  A shirt that needs to be washed. 

The Exhausted Me, she needs more than a few hours sleep.  She might need a few weeks of sleep.  But if you want to get out of the Exhausted Place, you have to start somewhere.  And I’m going to start with a nap.


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