Yesterday I got up after my usual menopausal restless night of sleep and went about my regular morning routine. I like my home routines. They give me peace, they center me. I can work through things in my head while going through my usual motions. Get the dog out, feed the dog, make sure son is up, make breakfast and lunch, put in a load of wash, see son off to school, tidy up kitchen and bathroom, make notes and lists.
At some point I paused in my routine and looked at my kitchen counter. This is what I saw.
And I thought that it must look even worse inside my brain.
It is no secret that we women think about, and worry about, a ton of stuff. ALL. THE. TIME. Our brains never really shut down. And sometimes in life – ok, pretty frequently in life — the usual quantity of “stuff” flying around up there gets even more crowded by additional issues.. a sick family member, an upcoming trip, an event to plan for… whatever it is, instead of taking something else away, we just pile it higher and deeper until we feel like our heads may just truly spin right off our bodies. Come on, I know its not just me — anyone else checking to make sure you quite literally haven’t lost your head?
I imagine that inside our brains is an intricate factory with multiple levels with really, really busy workers, all who must be powered by caffeine because how else could they keep up? Those factory workers are true multi-taskers, being bombarded with errant thoughts and worries that they are tasked to manage. Something like this:
Gotta pick up son after school have to call the hospital and possibly get up there at lunch to talk to doctors about family member need to jump on these 5 priority items as soon as I get to work the President wants to cut PBS funding? add notes for house sitter to the pre-travel to do list get some packing done tonight wait did I switch over the laundry? Not sure I liked that last episode of This is Us, what time is that meeting did the dog poop when he went out what am I going to wear? Oh crap more snow this weekend should I see the dermatologist about this spot on my arm need to pay the bills tomorrow get to the grocery store wow I’m tired why are my keys in the fridge?
It is no wonder that the factory workers in our brains get a bit cranky and mischievous and want to get back at the rest of our body at night. Oh, you think you are going to finally relax and rest? We real women crawl into our comfy beds, and do all the tricks we’ve learned to get to sleep…. Read, meditate, maybe even have whoopee with our partner, whatever it takes to feel that blissful feeling of drifting off to slumber land. Until around 2 or 3am, when those weary overtime brain workers decide to fight back. First they rouse the bladder to wake us up. Then they ask the legs to get restless. For those of us in the right phase of life, they then ask the endocrine system to throw in a hot flash. THEN, the fun begins with either truly bizarre and complex dreams, or just flashes of to do lists and world issues to ruminate about. The swirling begins, topics like work deadlines, household chores, worries about the children and the state of our country, and really vital subjects like should we paint the ceiling, and what if there really was a zombie apocalypse? Eventually those trouble-making brainiacs calm down, the thoughts and twitching subsides and we slide back to sleep. 20 minutes before the alarm goes off.
With the light of day, we wake up, weary but feeling like we are the true wonder women we are, and we tackle our days. Some days are more successful than others. But conveniently, we always have other R.W.’s in our lives who are in the exact same boat and totally get it. They are the ones who make us laugh, give us a hug, and commiserate.
Best of all, we have each other’s backs – or shall I say back up brains. Have your brain factory people talk to my brain factory people, we’ll do lunch. Let’s meet at 3:00, shall we?