When Liadan Hynes' marriage fell apart she had to work on adjusting to the new reality. In her weekly column, 'Things Fall Apart' she explores the myriad ways a person can find their way back to themselves. In this week's column, she talks about procrastination – and how it's so easy to put stressful things off when you're going through grief
Last week I read the following somewhere: "If you’re looking at a single parent’s home, you are looking at a well-oiled machine, running like clockwork."
Are you? I thought immediately. The implication was that as a single parent running a home on your own, you need to be extra organised. As if the 'getting it done' isn’t enough, you also need to be not just on top of it, but sort of ahead of it.
A well-oiled machine.
While my home and my life as a single parent with one child feels like it is an act of constant organisation (like, I’d imagine, most parents), it certainly never feels like all this organising results in something that ever looks or feels anything like a well-oiled machine. Mostly more like a machine that is just about keeping its head above the water.
Grief = procrastination
Just this week, filling out the form and having the exact right money for the first school photograph caused such stress that in the end I just gave up. Decided I’d pay the fine and do the late order. Or just not bloody do it at all.
I’m not sure if this is a thing, an actual syndrome, or something that I have invented, but when you are grieving, procrastination over organising certain things seems to be an inescapable part of it. A quick scan of the internet suggests I’m right. The two seem to go hand in hand; grief = procrastination.
It’s like a self-fulfilling circle of stress. The pile of life admin/things to be organised/to-do lists to be checked grows. It becomes the thing that you worry about when you wake at three in the morning. It sits over you like an oppressive cloud and yet you cannot face it. So it stresses you out, but you cannot bring yourself to see to it. Even though you know that it is causing you huge amounts of stress. And it seems like it should just be a simple act of making a list, and working your way through.
For a while there, I had written us off as people for whom libraries were now forever out-of-bounds. The books were three years' overdue. And then someone mentioned they no longer do fines, and I finally dared to creep back in, books in-hand, and the librarian barely blinked an eyelid, and now a walk through the park and an hour spent pottering in our local library is one of our favourite, most calming afternoons.
Often when you face the thing that feels massive, and weighty, and maybe shameful that you have been avoiding, it is more often than not easier than you thought. And then you notice the weightless feeling when you wake in the middle of the night.
The weight lifts, and it’s over and you cannot believe you allowed it to become such a big thing for you.
Photo: Lukasz Dziegel, Unsplash
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