Is Busyness A Drug?

Busy is both my drug and my defense. 

By that I mean that I use busy-ness to make me feel numb and safe, the way you use a drug, and I use busy-ness as a way of explaining all the things I dropped, didn’t do well, couldn’t pull together, as a defense. 

And I’m telling you this because I want to stop.

I want to drop the drug and the defense, one from each hand, letting them fall with heavy thunks, and I want to live a new way. 

I know it’s not all or nothing, or all at once.

In the same way that most married couples have like the same three fights over and over throughout their life together, I think each person has two or three issues that rear their heads over and over, and that those issues spike especially when the stress level gets a little bit elevated for whatever reason. 

Some people isolate and curl inward, some people dip back into an eating disorder that’s been held mostly at bay for a long time. Some people become angry, wielding rage as power against all the things that scare them. 

This is what I do: I keep myself busy, for a whole constellation of reasons. I do it because I’m addicted to the feeling of being capable, because I hate to be bored, because I hate having to face the silence, because it might force me to feel things I don’t want to feel. 

What if this book doesn’t connect with people at all? What if there are more bad reviews than good?

What if something happens to one of the kids? 

What if I’ve made the wrong choices, and I’m missing something important, something I could have been or should have done? 

If I stay busy I don’t have to feel those things.

I don’t have to worry about them, don’t have to let them blossom in to full-fledged questions. I don’t have to sit and think about that thing someone said about me recently when they didn’t know I was there, something I can’t get out of my mind. And so I run away from it, and from everything, faster, faster, faster.

And I use my busy-ness as an excuse for why I might not succeed, or accomplish the things I want to, or have the relationships I want to have. 

I mean, I’m juggling a million things here, of course the book’s not perfect. 

Seriously, where am I supposed to find time to work out and become some gorgeous supermodel, when I have like seven thousand things on my plate? 

I probably didn’t get invited because they knew I’d be out of town anyway, right? Right? Right?

The busy-ness is a drug to keep me numb and a defense to keep me safe.

And it works. But numb and safe aren’t key words for the life I want to live. I want so much more than numb and safe. And when I pursue numb and safe, what I get is busy, and after that what I get is exhausted, and after that, fragile and weepy and quick to snap and fearful. 

So much for numb and safe, which aren’t even something to aspire to anyway. 

I think I might not be the only one who keeps herself safe by keeping herself busy. 

I might not be the only one who wears exhaustion as a badge of honor, a way of showing people how terribly fast I’ve been running. I posted this article Brene Brown’s fantastic words about exhaustion as a status symbol, and I know so many of you connected with those ideas, as I did. 

This is right where I am these days, and maybe it’s right where you are, too. 

Today, I’m dropping the drug and the defense, and I’ll do my best to do the same tomorrow. 

Today, I’m shooting for higher than numb and safe and protected by excuses. I want to be present and whole and have nothing to hide, no excuses to be made, because I did my best, and because that’s enough. 

Today, I want to communicate to my kids, through my words and my actions, that we don’t always have to be hustling, plates don’t always have to be spinning, balls don’t always have to be in the air.

What would it look like in your life to lay down busy, both the drug and the defense?