My son has this toy wood watermelon, attached to it is a worm on a string. Z will take only a few seconds to quickly and frantically weave that worm through all the holes of his watermelon. Then you can guess what’s next: he gets frustrated with all the twists turns and knots he has created and asks for help. It usually takes me twice as long to unwind the tangled mess; as well as a good deal of patience.
This time of year, it is easy for me too to get tangled. In less than a week I can get all knotted inside like that poor worm on a string. I am stressed out and mentally exhausted trying to keep up with my own expectations of myself fueled by culture and propelled futhur by social media.
It doesn’t take long to get wound tight. It starts with looking at the calendar, then the baking list, and the present list, the Christmas card update, and . . . next thing I am wound so tight I don’t know how to unravel. My mind spins faster and faster weaving deep tangled webs of anxiety.
The next thing I know my shoulders are tight, mind is numb and my heart aches. All creative energy evaporates, along with my patience and grace. I get frustrated and overwhelmed by the little things that don’t go right. My prioritizing skills die as does my ability to take care of myself properly. I cut out the basics I need like exercise, time to meditate and pray before I start my day. Of course, then my anger boils over. My tenderness, my kindness, my empathy cowers and hides beneath the tangled web I weaved.
Like my son, my soul begins to cry out for help. For rest, for stillness and quietness, for the space to be present and enjoy the day. I need to unwind, to unravel, to get untangled.
How do I do that? By doing everything I had told myself I didn’t have time for like: journaling, meditating, blogging, praying, reading, exercising, looking out the window, playing with my son outside, cuddling with Z or L on the couch, listening to relaxing music.
Unlike my son, to be honest, I am not the best at asking for help to untangle the mess I have made. My fear of shame and embarrassment, my pride, make it hard to admit I need grace, forgiveness and help.
I have to ask L for time alone to rest. Not because I have earned it, deserve it, or because I am done with x y or z and so can take a break, but because I need it. I need it in order to be the wife, mother, friends, daughter etc. I am know I can be.
It is a discipline to keep up these stress reducing activities, to choose rest and self care over more. . . . getting more checked off a list or participating in more activities. The temptation is so strong and all forces around me only propel me to get thoroughly tangled-to get or stay busy-to ignore the x’s on the calendar. And like my son’s toy it takes twice as long to unwind my heart, mind, and body to a place where my soul if fed.
Learning to untangle, just like knotted jewelry takes time and skill. The good news is the more I do it, the more I try reaching out for help and give myself rest, the easier it gets to unwind.
What causes you to get tangled up? How do you unwind?