I THINK I CAN'T,
I THINK I CAN'T...
3 May 2003
This is one of those entries that I'm writing for myself and it probably is going to
lose cohesiveness for everyone else somewhere around...oh...the second sentence or so. I
decided I had to write it when I realized I was eating my third piece of bread piled thick
with peanut butter and that I really had no conscious memory of eating it--that my hands
had just been grabbing anything that I could to stuff in my mouth because I was stressed
to the max and the only thing I could do about it was to eat.
I hate that about me.
It's amazing how quickly things can turn. Yesterday was a wonderful day. The work day
was wonderful, it was a lovely evening. I had a smile on my face all evening and felt very
good about life in general. I felt on top of things. I was getting stuff accomplished. I
felt very good about myself.
I went to sleep around 9:30 and got up at 3:30 to attack that stack of tapes. I made
incredible progress. By 9, when I was getting ready to go to work, I had six tapes ready
to return to Dr. G. One of them was defective so I wasn't able to transcribe it (which was
an added bonus for me--not so for Dr. G, who has to redictate it!)
The plan for the day was to go through the bank statement (that old monster rearing its
ugly head), come to some sort of a balance, take it to the bank, confer with our rep there
and get it "pristeen" (Dr. G's term) so I could turn the book over to him, come
home, get the psychiatrist's transcription finished--or at least put a major dent in it,
then pack my suitcase and be ready to leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow for a weekend in
(Yes--peripatetic me. A weekend in Houston. A weekend in Boise. You'd think I had money
When did it all come crashing down? When did I lose control? When did I find myself
pulling my hair out and eating peanutbutter?
I can't remember exactly the sequence of events, but it was remembering the --is it
6?--tapes that I have from the psychiatrist (who, bless him, is the most patient person in
the world and who never, ever complains, but I know another tape is coming on Monday and I
know I can't work over the weekend) and having him call to let me know he has a rush job
-- one of the longer ones --that needs to be done Monday. "Monday the 6th," he
said. I shrieked--Monday couldn't be the 6th. (turns out it's not, but Tuesday is
the 6th--two days before I had it in the back of my head was the 6th--I have a major
feature story that has to be written for the newspaper and turned in by the morning of the
6th...and it will require several interviews before I can write it.)
So that's a major (about 15 pages) report to be transcribed by Monday, a feature story
due to be turned in on Tuesday morning, two more tapes of Dr. G's that I promised to have
for him Monday morning, and the @#$% checkbook which I didn't have time to balance after
all. I had to cancel the meeting with the bank rep because I left a page of the bank
ledger at the office. She wants to meet with me on Tuesday...and that's our full day of
patients. I don't know if I can do it.
Suddenly the walls were closing in. I'm trying to figure out if I can take a
transcription unit with me to Boise so I can work while Olivia is sleeping.
The problem is that I have not learned the words "no," "not now" or
"I can't." This has been a huge problem my entire life. It's not so much that I
want to be a good guy--a savior--Superwoman in my own little world. It's because of this
sense...this drive in me that I have to do everything. That I am somehow
"less" if I can't do it all. That I'm a wimp if I ask for help.
What's the name of that book? "I feel guilty when I say 'no'" ?? That's me.
Even when people offer to help, or to take some of the work off my hands, I feel
like a failure if I give the jobs away. I should be able to do it all. I should be able to
juggle 25 bazillion things at one time.
It was always a struggle for me, but I did it. "I don't know how you DO it"
people would tell me. Then I'd feel guilty because they noticed me doing too much.
Not only should I do it all, but I should do it without appearing to be working hard--and
I should keep a tidy house at the same time. Naturally, I have never achieved that goal.
I've failed miserably at all of it.
And what do I do when I fail? I eat, of course. See how this all works?
But you know what? I'm SIXTY, for God's sake. I'm slowing down. I couldn't do it easily
at 30 and I sure as hell can't do it easily now. I'm damn tired. I'm tired of not having a
night without work somewhere in the back of my head. Even if I take a night off...or a
weekend off...I'm never away from it because I know that it's waiting for me when I
At WeightWatchers, our leader always talks about the nice ways to treat
yourself--sitting down at night with a cup of tea as you watch television. I watch at a
lot of television, but never look at the screen because I'm working, or preparing to work,
or feeling guilty because I can't face another second of listening to those voices in my
It becomes a vicious cycle. The more work I have to do the less I actually accomplish.
I get so wound up that I don't even know where to start, so I start by eating something
that I don't even realize I've eaten until I'm standing there with crumbs on my fingers
wondering what happened to the loaf of bread.
I don't know what the answer is, but I'm reaching burnout. And today was just really,
really, really horrible. What's more, I've just taken half an hour to write this entry and
that was half an hour I should have been working. I still have the long report. I still
have Dr. G's two tapes that need to be done by Monday. I still have the unbalanced
checkbook. I still have a feature story to turn in Tuesday morning. And I'm
still getting on a plane tomorrow at the crack of dawn where I will relax on the surface,
but in the back of my head will be the knowledge of how much work I have to do in how
short a time when I get home.
The act of writing this has left me with: a knot in my stomach, a headache, ice cold
hands, and a desperate need to go pace somewhere. The only GOOD thing is that there is no
chocolate anywhere in the house.