The sound of me saying no

One of the things that has happened since I had kids is that I am constantly in an energy deficit. When they were small, I felt like I was being eaten alive. Most of my energy went to them and whatever was left over had to be scraped up and used for matters professional and creative–always with a sense of near-fatal drainage. When I started my OU degree, whatever energy I got back as the kids went to preschool and then school, went into studying. The intellectual demands have only increased as the coursework has got harder, and I am now studying final-year courses in physics.

Thanks largely to the internet I live in a field of noise. The buzz of people and their things demanding attention is a total surround. Sometimes I feel like everybody wants something from me. I feel pressure to deliver what is wanted lest I otherwise disappear into the general background static against which my identity is already barely discernable as a faint outline. And I resent this expectation.

So I’m just going to put this out there: I am not an infinite resource. I shouldn’t have to say it, but I feel like I do have to say it or I will be sucked into a vortex of Doing It All. Modern women are widely expected to be superheroes in all sorts of areas. It’s a thing now. If you’re not a superwoman then you ain’t worth the time of day to the world. Well, I have found that the more I allow myself to be regarded as a Woman Who Can Do Anything, the worse off I am. People expect miracles. I expect them of myself. It all becomes one.

At the moment I am getting ready to launch my first novel in four years. I have set boundaries on how much support writing I will do around the launch, but even so this amount is not trivial. I am embarking on the 90 credits of study I need in order to finish with the OU this year–there is a strong probability that I will crash and burn because the courses are extremely challenging and time-consuming. I am revising a very difficult SF novel under tight deadline and with high expectations–expectations on which I intend to deliver. I am handling a DVD release for my partner’s business. I have a short story due soon and several other writing projects on the backburner. They are on the backburner because my life fills up with noise. Everyone’s does.

I am not the busiest person I know, not by some stretch. But I’m a lot busier than I want to be, busier than I reckon it’s healthy for any animal to be, and so I will now be practicing saying NO. When I say no it is not because I don’t care or I don’t regard a thing or a person as important or because I don’t want to be involved. It is because I refuse to sabotage my work and my personal life by taking on too much and breaking myself.

Turning people into packhorses is another way of controlling them, you know. Making women feel crazy because we can’t keep up is also a thing. This has not escaped my notice.

Yes, I am writing this at four-thirty in the morning, since you ask.