Adult Disequilibrium

In parenting classes, we learned about the phases of child development involving periods of time when calm behavior alternates with unpredictable behavior. It helped explain periods of growth between acquiring new skills and practicing them, marked by feelings of uneasiness and struggle. I am in my own disequilibrium phase right now, triggered by a death in the family, the onset of winter, and hormonal shifts. The dark gloominess is starting to thin out a bit and I am thinking about how to get back into the game after this particular round of Life.

canstockphoto41721441Disequilibrium, this falling apart, collapsing inward, feeling simultaneously disheveled and uptight, is uncomfortable. I begin not to trust myself and I look externally for answers. This is the phase where I research exhaustively and write and follow the threads of thoughts. It feels a little desperate, trying to find a palliative for my uneasiness.

My internet search history of the last few weeks runs something like this:

  • What does it mean when my RHR (resting heart rate) is elevated
  • How to handle toxic relative
  • How to transition to gray hair
  • How to help teenager with grief
  • How to deal with heartburn at night
  • Eco-safe unplug sink drain
  • How to get cat with kidney disease to eat
  • Why are box elders suddenly in house in winter
  • Why do caskets get put in vault
  • Average lifespan of woman who reaches 50 (FYI: 85)
  • Late life writing careers
  • Pre-paying cremation
  • Dry hands remedies

canstockphoto8705409Yeah, I’m in the super-fun stage of pondering mortality and random bugs in the house. I did you a favor and left out the weird medical shit. My internet searches are only the tip of the iceberg and I suspect many of our search histories are a reflection of every niggling anxiety our busy brains can conjure.

During a phase of disequilibrium, there is no worry too small that it doesn’t require Googling or a night of tossing and turning. A couple of nights ago, I dreamt I was in a Geo Prizm (a car from a couple of decades ago) and there was a warning light I’d never seen before. I couldn’t get the engine to shut off. That was the entire dream – me sitting in the car in a parking lot, trying to figure out how to shut the car off. I’m not skilled in dream interpretation except that the feeling of being stuck in an untenable situation feels fairly realistic to my waking life.

So I did what I always do. I wrote lists. I met my life coach friend for coffee and went over the lists. I needed to say things out loud to another human, who could assure me that I wasn’t a complete nut job.

One of the steps towards finding equilibrium again, is differentiating between self-care, self-comfort, and simple numbing behaviors. Some of these things overlap, but over the last few weeks, I’d overeaten, binge-watched, gave up any pretense at exercise (apparently just wearing a Fitbit doesn’t count), spent a great deal of time in fleece-like materials – alternately doing internet searches while scrolling through my Twitter feed for things that would piss me off. Sometimes any feeling is better than none at all.

Initially, some of these things might have been comforting, but as soon as you start canstockphoto10730093feeling the backlash, they’ve crossed the line from self-comfort into numbing behaviors. My jeans became uncomfortable, I had trouble focusing when reading or writing, my communication began to consist of various grunts and whines, I had to search out news items to feed my anger addiction, and I could not handle the most minor of domestic mishaps without feeling like the ceiling were about to collapse.

It is finally time to trade in some of these things for self-care. Getting back to exercise, good nutrition, doing work that is meaningful to me, sleeping well, connecting with people who elevate and don’t depress. Tomorrow I’m going to decorate for the holidays – a weird set of rituals from childhood that look a lot like Christmas without the dogma. But shiny things. And trees inside. And lights outside. And online shopping. None of it really makes sense, except that I will take time to think about the people in my life and what I could say, write, or gift to them that expresses my gratitude for their presence in said life.

canstockphoto15596557Returning to life, as it were, requires a lot of fake it until you make it motions. If I waited until I felt like getting my shit together, that would be a special kind of long term purgatory. I’m not going to fully spring up into a high functioning adult tomorrow, but I need to make my way in that direction. I think of that song from that kid’s holiday TV special. Put one foot in front of the other…



34 thoughts on “Adult Disequilibrium

  1. You’re handling yourself and your needs quite well. I applaud you for knowing what is going on within you and doing what you need to do to get better. Not everyone is that responsible, you know? Also, are you sure that just wearing a Fitbit doesn’t count? Honestly, that bums me. 😐


    1. Thanks, Ally. I am starting to hate the Fitbit. It irritates my wrist while simultaneously reminding me that the time is nigh and I’m a lazy shit. Rocky life experiences have made me better at this phase stuff. Sort of like a flu shot – it doesn’t necessarily cover every contagion, but it shortens the duration of suffering.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! Reckoning, indeed – looks like we we’re on the same Universal mailing list this week! I can so relate to this. I want thinking about going to the gym and eating properly to equal doing those things! How great would that be! Design flaw, in my opinion. Your searches, especially, made me chuckle, because I’ve been doing those same kinds of searches. I’ve decided, that as regards my health, though, Google is not my friend, and I’m going to try to refrain from consulting it anytime I have a twinge cuz I just end up scaring myself to death! I am heartened, though, to know that having made it to 50 (and beyond), I stand a good change of hanging around a good long while. Great post! 🙂


    1. Thanks! Dr. Google is a sadist. If we got credit for our thoughts, I’d be an MMA fighter who has written a great novel and travels around the world taking out bad guys and replacing their weaponry with books.

      Instead, I must console myself with the best thing about the holiday season – Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark Chocolates and alternately suffer the sugar hangover that indulging them brings. It’s a vicious cycle of which I’ve been a willing participant. Time to throw in a little actual exercise and some legit writing that doesn’t involve me publicly working out my feelings.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your internet search list made me laugh, because I can so relate. (In fact, I’m so easily distracted that I had to Google my own life expectancy before continuing. Grim: 89.) Fake it until you make it, indeed — and perhaps not bingeing Dexter would improve my mood. Thanks for the laugh and the consolation of your company.


    1. I binged on The Office for the 424th time. Makes me laugh every single time and sometimes laughter is just what is needed. But The Office has 9 seasons. I watched every one them, accompanied by mindless eating and snort laughing. This activity has time limited benefits. I started to devolve around Season Five, only leaving the house for chocolate and venturing out in public in the sweats I’d been wearing for 24 hours. Not my proudest moments.

      I’m a medium functioning adult today – showered and clothed, interacting with other humans in real life, no TV, a little reading, and some community work. I’ll need to rest up tomorrow. One step forward, two naps needed.


  4. Thank you, Michelle! Looks like you and I may be on somewhat parallel paths at the moment? Your distinction between self-care, self-comfort, and numbing is really important, and I will share that with my friends.
    I first started following you after I read about your efforts to practice mindfulness and feeling its centering, calming benefits (that last part may be my words, not yours). How do you see that fitting into your self-care these days? Best wishes to you! 🙂


    1. While I practice being mindful regularly, numbing behaviors put the brakes on rather quickly. I do think it makes me more aware of what I’m experiencing and perhaps leads me to shifting gears more quickly. A lot of times I have to simply take action first, to get out of the rut, and then I can be more attentive to the feelings I was trying to avoid in the first place. Mindfulness at this time looks more like self-compassion.

      Thanks for the good wishes, Cathy. I hope you find a way to shift gears as well. Maybe where you’re at is where you need to be at the moment. I always find the idea of impermanence to be useful when I get stuck. Sometimes we are objects at rest.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tina. I maintain a lot of delusions as well. Holiday calories are temporary. Sitting is not the new cancer. I’m really learning when I watch TV. These jeans must accidentally be skinny jeans. Someday I’ll be published…

      But always with the sense of humor, n’est-ce pas?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. All of my cats have had kidney disease but it was only my last remaining cat who stopped eating at one point. I’d always fed my cats healthy food purchased from my Vet and never gave them people food. When I had the eating problem with Bartlett my vet said to try him on junk food — the popular brands from grocery stores and he also told me that a favourite of all his feline patients was Fancy Feast.

    It worked, so maybe try that. There are also appetite stumulents, which I relented and tried when he went off food again. That worked well, so again, maybe worth trying.

    Hope you find something that works.


    1. Fancy Feast is the food at the moment. Check on appetite stimulant. It all works for a couple of days and then not. The real pain now is that we bought a special feeder so that she only has access to her food and fat boy Pete can’t eat it all (he’s on weight management food), but now she likes his food. Cats are a serious pain sometimes. I just have to keep switching gears on her. She was a picky eater before, but now it’s worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yep. In recent weeks, I would have a hard time coping without Xanax. My to-do list is like swimming through molasses. Self-care is monitoring the effects and possible interactions of my prescription medications. Personally, I will be glad when Christmas is over. Jan. 2 is always a day I look forward to.


    1. Yes, the holidays and all the hubbub surrounding them make everything exponentially worse when you’re just trying to keep yourself sorted. I’m trying to put the blinders on through the holidays a bit, focusing only on the things that nourish, nurture, and matter. Self-care is always a priority, even if it’s foisted on you by the vagaries of the human body. Take care John.


    1. Thanks – boy that hugging thing will never die. With the memorial and funeral, I was constantly approached by people saying “I know you don’t like hugs” about two seconds before squashing me. I’ve developed a reputation apparently! Well, if it makes people think more about what they do or assume, I guess that’s okay. Thanks for the sentiment (the most important part). I appreciate it.


        1. Why is it considered rude and hostile to protect ones personal space, with pointy elbows and stiletto heels if need be, but not considered rude to invade someone’s space in a way one has been specifically requested not to?

          I’m somewhat of a hugger. Specifically, I tend to hug people who have just adopted a dog from me. But dang, you ask permission first! And you read the body language! You respect boundaries! I think you should start a new fashion in barbed wire clothing accessories.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Sometimes, I think we take lightly the value of “fake it ‘til you make it.” I’m coming to see that it’s a pretty essential element of growth. Rather than being imposters when we pretend to be something we haven’t yet mastered, I’d rather view myself as a work in progress. As long as the intention is there, “faking it” helps manifest the reality. That being said, faking it without ever intending to make it is where we become imposters. Thanks for another thoughtful post, Michelle.


  8. I’ve been reading your blog lately and find it very interesting. It is good you share your thoughts so well which helps me to relate to your writing. Very well done!


  9. Michelle I believe you were born to be a writer, I love writing and art and I really want to follow your footsteps please when writing your blog on wordpress go to the readers area and follow my blog and help me get more followers right now I don’t have any likes, followers or comments please help me but anyway your blog inspires me

    Liked by 1 person

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