For many people, Sundays are a day of calm and serenity. It’s a day to hang out with the family, read a good book, take a bubble bath, attend worship. As a teacher, however, I dread Sundays. They are a reminder of what I “should” be doing: grading papers, uploading scores, writing lesson plans, editing student work, creating assignments, responding to parent/student emails, reading educational articles. The list goes on and on. For years, I have fallen into the “should” trap.
I am not sure how or when I got it into my head that I need to be working on Sundays. My work is never-ending- always something to fine-tune, a better plan, a more-recent article. I could literally drive myself crazy in trying to achieve perfection. For this alcoholic, I am setting myself up in a dangerous trap. In fact, we talk about how we need to work on progress not perfection. So while I say this in meetings, how I live is entirely different.
I am happy to report, though, that in recent weeks, I’ve decide to shed the “should” skin. Life is too short. Being sober has afforded me the ability to see where I can improve and in what areas of my life. Sadly for my employer, my job is at the bottom of the list.
Now before you go blowing the horn on “What about the children?”, never fear. This isn’t about them. This is about me learning how to become mindful, to live with some sort of balance, is set boundaries, to appreciate my new life on life’s terms. Those papers will still be there for me to grade on Monday. In fact, the better care of take of myself, the better mood I am in. The kids will reap that benefit.
Learning this isn’t easy. I have had to, many times, remind myself that I am worth the time off. I do not need the demons bouncing around in my head to tell me that I “should” be doing something MORE productive. How do we measure the level of productivity anyway? It’s generally by someone else’s standards which really don’t apply to me.
No, my Sunday “job” is to clear my mind, breathe deeply, smile, appreciate the wind on my face, play with my kids, talk with my husband. It’s to quit worrying about what society thinks I ought to be doing and to engage in what I’d like to be doing. When I live in the “should” mode, I’m not really living. I am going through motions that someone else (although I can’t pinpoint who…) has determined for me. This is one of the rare times that as an alcoholic, I can take control and say no more. Sometimes, Sundays are just days to hang out- to think about what I’d like to plant in my garden this spring. It’s to engage in mindless reading but sometimes some substantial reading- not in the field of education- but in the field of self care. It’s so important that I don’t get too caught up in external that I forget about the internal.
Today, my day consisted of some morning worship, a stroll around our property, a two on one basketball game with my sons, and some light reading. This is far more nourishing than plowing through 40 papers only to have students turn to the grade and ignore the feedback I provided. Like I said, the papers will be there tomorrow.
Each day of sobriety is new for me. Learning self care and how to shed the “shoulds” are unchartered waters, but they are vital to my sustenance. As long as I am doing the next right thing, I can still put my head down, breathe and thank my HP for one more day.