|My son, Will. Exhausted.|
Spent. Used up. Worn down.
I returned from Urbana and fell asleep under the kitchen table. As the Spring semester started, I found myself working and working and working. 74 hours that week.
And something inside me started to snap. My soul feels brittle, thin and too hard in the wrong places. My soul has cracks in it, not crumbling like dust but fragmenting like ice under the feet of the North Wind.
Have you ever experienced deep exhaustion?
Over the years, I've noticed three effects that exhaustion has on me:
1) My emotions are not stable
Eugene Peterson says that anger is a perfect indicator that something is wrong, but that anger doesn't tell us whether the thing that is wrong is inside of us or outside of us. Anger flares up within me when I'm exhausted. Unpredictable. Fiery. I'm at my most macho, my most stereotypical Cubano when I'm exhausted.
But it's not just anger that appears.
I find myself seized by waves of joy as well. Worship songs slip through my clenched jaw and soften my furious face. Small things bring me tremendous pleasure. A conversation with a friend. A sunset. A pepperoni and bacon pizza from Pizza Hut. Joy after joy after joy. And gratitude.
And I slip back and forth between joy and anger all day. Not stable.
2) My thoughts are not sharp
My mind is one of my few gifts. It's one of the few things I have to offer my family and friends. Crystal and clear and insightful. But not when I'm exhausted.
When I'm exhausted, I ramble. I struggle to focus. My intuitive side slips into hyperdrive. I start to live in a world that doesn't really exist. At Urbana, I actually started hallucinating at one point (that's sign to go to sleep and get prayer support ... thanks, Chantilly Bible Church!).
Exhaustion blunts the synapses in my brain. Not sharp.
3) My escapes are not simple
My friends in LaFe described my work habits as a gas pedal that gets stuck to the floor. My engine runs and runs and I can't stop running and running. I work and work and work creates more work to work on and on and on.
It takes energy to stop working, to say "No," to pull the brake. And the more exhausted I am, the harder it is for me to stop. I become trapped. I can't escape. I don't know how to escape.
Exhaustion drags me away from a healthy life rhythm. And. The. Return. Is. Not simple.
What have you learned from yourself in your experience of exhaustion?