I came to an important realization this week.
I have found my limit.
I’ve always thought there’d be a wall I would hit, but I never figured that I’d actually get there. I’ve spent 31 years piling onto my shoulders, finding ways to dig a little deeper, give a little more, telling myself it’s only another 15 minutes or one more task and it’s worth it because I’m doing something good.
But I hit the limit this week. I’m now on an inhaler for an unknown respiratory illness, waiting for the results of an X-ray to tell me if there’s a more serious problem. In the last four months I’ve battled bronchitis, a sinus infection, a codeine allergy and I’m still overdue for a skin cancer biopsy. Write it all out like that and it sounds ridiculous but I’m pretty sure there’s not a part of my body that works the way it’s supposed to anymore.
And I have worked through it all. I have not had a single day off since New Year’s. I have worked seven days a week, ranging from 14 to 16 hours a day. For the last week I’ve gone to bed at 4 AM. And that’s not getting ahead; that’s me keeping pace with my established commitments. My articles-per-day number has doubled to 12. Last month, I wrote almost 300 pieces.
And I’m still nursing a broken heart that I’m not sure will ever heal entirely.
Physically, mentally and emotionally, I’m done. My doctor has told me that part of the reason I’m so seriously ill now is because I ignored my condition in order to keep working, and because I didn’t take care of myself while I was looking out for everyone else. I’m spending every day elbow deep in deadlines. I’m not just spinning a few plates; I’ve got the whole damn dinner set. And worst of all, I’m just tired of it. I’m not excited anymore, or feeling like I’m doing the right thing – all I feel is exhaustion.
I’ve finally discovered that I’m not invincible. I’m not sure anybody else gives a fuck about how much I’ve wrecked myself, but it matters to me. And it’s time for me to accept it, and decide what I’m going to do with it.
Because I was warned. I had numerous friends of mine over the years tell me that I was going to go too far. I chose not to listen. I chose to prioritize everyone else’s needs and wants over my own, and I got away with it until right now. Now when I’ve been sick for four months and yet have so much to do that I can’t take a break and have finally realized that most people in my life don’t care about how much I’ve given up for them. And the ones that do are telling me “I told you so,” and they’re right.
When my dream got taken away from me last Friday it also removed that mental block that told me I was invincible. It taught me that while my sacrifices have value to me, and to some others, most people don’t care. I put my job on the line recently and not one person involved in that has said thank you for being willing to take that risk. And it’s as if once I saw that the pain had no merit, the will that kept me going through it died and the pain caught up with me. I feel terrible, but at the same time maybe this had to happen so that I stop over-extending myself for nothing and trying to save everyone and trying to make up for something I don’t need to.
I never thought I’d have to say stop, but I’ve finally reached that point. And as low as I feel right now, I can only think it’s for the best. I may not be the most popular kid in the class anymore, but I’ll be the one who’s not waking up every day ill and going to bed at 4 AM.
Sucks to not be invincible anymore, but hey. Even Scott Dixon is only human. And he’s a four-time IndyCar champion, so. I think I’m going to be okay.