The boiling point, the straw that broke the camel's back--you know what I mean. Sometimes it results in an uncontrollable fit of rage, or maybe a crying jag or an ice cream binge. We all handle it differently.
Yesterday, I reached mine. It's a culmination of things: the semester's incredible stress load building and building and building, not having enough time to keep my house clean (which is very important to me, and a very big stressor when it's not clean), not having enough time to spend with my husband, barely making my hours for my (thank goodness work-from-home) job...you name it, I probably have it as a stressor right now.
And then Monday I had exam number 3 for nursing school, and yesterday I had my next-to-last exam in Anatomy & Physiology, which happened to be a lab practical. Because of the way the A&P instructor does her grades, I have a good bit of leeway in that test grade. Honestly, I could fail it and still pull an A out of the class, as long as I get an A on the final. The nursing exam took up every bit of my time from last Thursday night until Monday morning.
I stopped doing NaNoWriMo. I stopped cooking. I stopped talking to my husband, mostly, and I stopped smiling.
Now all the tests are done. I don't have tests again until December 5-6, finals. I have Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping with my MIL and other good things.
But the stress is still there. I didn't get that feeling of decompression after I turned in my exam yesterday. I didn't feel great about the grade, and even though I have "wiggle room" I'm still a perfectionist, a straight-A student who feels like an 89 equates failure. Stress.
I'm 8,000 words behind on NaNoWriMo and I don't care. I realized that even writing, as much as I love it, is a stressor to me right now.
I can't take any more. There's a principle in psychology, called the allostatic load, which basically states that there will be physiological consequences when more stress builds up than your body can handle. Chronic stress, the kind that gives you hypertension and puts you at cardiovascular risk. The kind that steals years from you.
So I'm letting go. I don't like it. I'm not the letting go type. I'm the hold-on-by-the-fingernails-until-I-die-of-the-pressure type. But I'm going to try.
I'm going to write, yes. But am I going to kick myself if I don't hit 50k by November 30th? No. I made great strides in my novel, found plot twists and characters that are fantastic.
Am I going to spend all of my Christmas break frantically trying to finish my novel? No. I thought I would, and then the thought of that made me cry a little. Seriously, cry. Writing shouldn't make you cry. The things you love shouldn't make you cry.
So give yourself permission to LET THE F--- GO. What's important? I'll tell you: family, loved ones, your pets, YOURSELF. YOURSELF. Yourself.
I'm going to spend my December crocheting Christmas gifts, trying to learn how it knit, organizing my closets, and painting my living room. I'm going to finally finish The Tudors as I wrap presents, just like I did last year and loved it. I'm going to cook. I'm going to run.
Because next semester? Next semester laughs at this semester. Next semester is this semester's great-granddaddy. And if I don't let go of the stress now, then who knows what will happen? What will I look like come March?
I don't want to know.
So give yourself permission to let go. I am. And I'm going to try like hell to actually do it.