The Worst Kind of Burnout

I’m sure this a topic that no one else can relate to, but you know when you’ve run on all cylinders for so long that you barely even notice it anymore? I mean, when your calendar glass is full to the brim, but since it isn’t yet running down the sides and making a mess all over the counter, you think, “I bet I could pour just a little more in there.” So, you do—of course—and you go on about your way.

Sure, you say. You know that feeling… and then it all comes crashing down around you.

Nope. Actually, what I’m talking about today is when the crash doesn’t start. I’m talking about when you’re so used to going at cheetah pace that “one more thing” doesn’t even make you pause, let alone have time for a nervous breakdown. In fact, you feel like you’re juggling it all super well. A dozen or more delicate plates balanced and spinning perfectly on the axis of your life. Well, maybe not perfectly, but pretty darn well.

I’m a recovering busy addict, and I know this feeling all too well. My husband and I have spent the better part of our married lives trying to figure out how to be the involved, activity driven folks we love to be without burning out.

Here’s the thing though. The kind of burn out I’ve described here is the worst kind of burn out. It’s the one you don’t even realize is happening, the one that doesn’t even look like it’s out of control, the one that—for all intents and purposes—is your “normal.”

My husband and I have spent the last several months cultivating a new normal. He took a new job over the summer, and between that, our in-our-thirties-trying-to-have-a-baby-and-move-out-the-starter-home life, and my own deep dive into my passions and gifts, it’s been a process.

Alas, Benny and I are doers. We just get stuff done. It’s how we’re wired. So, we each got to work taking on the new responsibilities that this life we created demanded of us.

Then, one day earlier this week, while I was in the middle of making dinner, Benny put his arms around me and said “Hey. I think we should talk about our schedule. I think maybe it needs some adjustments.”

I know those words all too well. It was actually no surprise to hear them because the “schedule conversation” is a conversation we have often.

He kissed me on the cheek and what he said next almost made me forget to turn down the flame on the pan.

“You’ve been making dinner a lot lately. I think we should get into a habit where I can take a couple of days during the week so that you’re not doing this all the time.”

Honestly, until that moment, I hadn’t even given this a thought before. When Benny took his new job and started getting home later, I just assumed the role of all time meal prepper (for the record, this was a bum deal for him because he is definitely the better cook). I didn’t resent it, he didn’t ask me to do it, and I certainly didn’t think of it as a big deal. Besides, I love to cook. It fills me, and it’s one of the ways I love to love others.

This, my friends, is the danger. As we talked through what splitting things up might look like, I started to realize that he was creating a space for me that I didn’t even realize I needed.

For months, I was going to work, coming home after my hour-long commute, maybe squeezing in a work out or jetting the dog out to the bathroom, a

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My first “off-day” dinner… which then turned into a lunch that he packaged up for me. Get you a man like this, ladies.

nd then commencing the business of prepping dinner. Afterwards—if we weren’t heading out to any one of our weekly events—, we’d do our usual: pray, clean up, and sit down and breathe a giant, soul cleansing sigh as we settled in on the couch for a TV show that we would inevitably fall asleep to.

The thing about this kind of burnout is that it tricks you into thinking this is normal. It tricks you into thinking everything is fine. It tricks you into thinking that accomplishing the tasks of normal is the meat on the bone of life. So, you do it. You make it happen, and you don’t complain because—I mean, really—you’ve certainly been busier, had more on your plate, and been more stressed out than this before.

I think, if we’re not careful, we forget that the hum drum of every day life is our biggest captor. It captures our time, our attention, and our space.

But it’s necessary, Keira. You have to do this stuff.

Yep. That’s where it gets you. This hum drum lulls you into a full-on slumber-by-obligation.

I’m not saying to quit doing all of the things all of the time. I know there are times when certain things just have to get done. What I’m saying is create some space. Create some space in your schedule. Don’t let that hum drum sing you to sleep.

If you’re like me, the thought is a little terrifying: Alright, so what am I supposed to do with this “space?”

To be honest, I don’t know. It’s only been a couple of days for me, people. Relax.

HA!

But seriously, I think that’s what’s glorious about it. Maybe that space can be used for a short walk, a good book, a quick purge of your closet, who knows? In truth, on one of my “off” days, I used that time to take care of some work-related items so that I could have more time to really be connected to Benny after dinner without distraction. Go ahead, judge me, but it felt good.

I don’t know what that time will like for you, but I do know that you’ll never know if you don’t make space for some space.

We can’t keep thinking that our Flash-like pace is an acceptable normal, and if this little space is the first baby step in sowing a deeper level of living, then I’m in. I’m so frickin’ in.