The Fear of Doing Nothing
So, I’ve had a bit of a revelation. If you read my last newsletter, you’d know that I waved my daughter goodbye as she left for 3 weeks + 2 days of overnight camp, leaving me with 555 1/2 hours of total freedom. It’s my annual vacation from the stress of caring for a daughter with ADD plus a variety of special needs that go from A-Z.
The first week she was gone, I was a lost soul. You see, when mom and daughter have ADD, the playing field is, well…different. As a woman with ADD, I need to have my brain and mind wrapped around something. That something could be a positive thing, like writing an article, blog post, consulting with someone needing help for their ADD. Writing a song. Even filing papers that have been stacking up for weeks- that lopsided tower glaring at me for attention.
Or, my brain could be choosing to focus on something very negative. After all, ADD brains need stimulation, whether it’s the good kind or the bad kind. Many of us obsess and ruminate over the craziest things, right? Well, with my lack of daughter-stress and constant supervision needed, my brain had to go somewhere. And on vacation, it’s not always easy to train the brain to focus on fun.
So what did I do? I ruminated for an entire week on what I should do to enjoy my vacation. Should I hang around the house and file, write, play guitar, eat out every night, read my new favorite author (Elizabeth Berg), play CDs, jog? Oh, the possibilities were endless, but my brain chose to whine and obsess over what to do. Each ecstatically free minute was ticking away and I wanted to have fun and be carefree. But I couldn’t seem to let myself do so.
Instead, I spent an entire week obsessing on what to do to have fun! It’s a bit like going off your diet for oh, just one day, and heading to the bakery to choose that ONE treat you’ll allow yourself before starting back on Weight Watchers: lemon tart? chocolate chip cookie? blueberry muffin? By the time you choose, you’re slapping yourself so hard mentally, you don’t really enjoy the guilty pleasure.
After a week of this self-torture, I put together a list of what I wanted to do for the last two weeks of my respite vacation. But even that didn’t quite do the trick. What worked, instead, was a Buddhist sort of thing that should have been obvious to me from the start. But it wasn’t. I chose to enjoy the moment- every second of having no ‘mom’ duties and stress. I smiled at the blue sky. I breathed in the wonderful smells of the falling rain as it tap-danced against the leaves outside my window.
I headed out to our little Canadian cottage for a few days. The tortuous thoughts returned- ‘what should I do while I’m here? Clean up the place? Read email all day? Hike in the national park?’
Instead, I did nothing but let the day play out its own schedule for me: walks on the beach. Lying on the hammock. Reading. And reading some more. I chose to enjoy the moment.
Bottom line? We can allow our ADD brains to torment us with the “I shoulds” or…we can take a step back and allow ourselves to mentally roam free with no schedules attached; a rather counter intuitive suggestion for folks with ADD who need and crave structure. I’m certainly not condoning this on a daily basis, but we have this tendency to be so hard on ourselves: our forgetfulness, distractibility, disorganization and the constant search for that perfect Planner.
Why not give yourself the gift of freedom from planning and organizing every minute of your day? Can you just feel the anxiety and pressure melting away at the thought of this? Can you give yourself this gift once a month? Or more?