Why Is It So Hard to Do Nothing?
By Jennifer Outcelt, Creative Content Architect
Right now I’m supposed to be doing nothing… obviously I am doing something since I’m writing a blog post, but essentially I’m under orders to do nothing. I just had foot surgery to correct a peroneal nerve issue, so not only am I not supposed to do anything, I’m physically not able to do anything.
The two premises here are:
- DON’T do anything
- CAN’T do anything
If this were a logic problem the outcome would be that nothing gets done.
So, I ask myself, if you’re not supposed to and you literally can’t then why is it so darn hard to do nothing?!
As a previously able body, I am experiencing an interesting intersection of thoughts around what it means to be out of commission. I have two dominating emotions: Frustration and Guilt.
Let’s talk frustration. Before surgery, I did not think much about the activities I would not be able to do. This was mostly because doing them was muscle memory and I took for granted my capacity to do them. These are the simple activities like walking myself to the bathroom and easily pulling down my pants. An act I had not needed assistance with since my parents were potty training me. Things like going downstairs to my bedroom, holding anything while I walk, maintaining a natural balance.
My logical brain knows that this impairment is temporary and this lull in activity is necessary to heal. But my illogical (?) brain is so freaking frustrated by my body’s inability to do what it so easily did before. When I stand at the top of the stairs my brain’s motor cortex says, “Just step down you idiot, you know how this goes!” but then my brain’s cerebral cortex interrupts and says, “Slow your role girl, you can’t just walk down these steps. You need to do the butt scooch method!” Then I cry because it’s so frustrating to have two parts of my brain fighting.
What’s even more frustrating is having all these basic care needs that only ever involved me, myself, and I, now suddenly involve my husband. Not to mention all the care for our 2.5-year-old (who like me now, also cannot potty on her own) now falls completely on my husband until I’m recovered. Which brings us into the second emotion, guilt.
Guilt is such a complex emotion. I feel guilty for voluntarily undergoing surgery even though it was to fix constant foot pain that was preventing me from enjoying a lot of actives in my life. I feel guilty for making my husband 100% responsible for the care of himself, our daughter, and me. I feel guilty that I took a 2-week vacation before needing some medical leave. And then worst of all, I FEEL GUILTY FOR FEELING GUILTY! What’s up with that one!?
I am told to do nothing in order to recover but doing nothing places me in the burden category. And if society has taught me anything, it’s that being a burden is not acceptable… but also self-care is important… but also independence and strength is key… but also healing takes time… but also do it all… but also you can’t do it all.
Yeah, society is all over the place.
There is no real conclusion here other than the hope that someone out there might be able to relate. I know how privileged I am to have the physical and mental faculties I have. I don’t claim this temporary plight to be anything other than small blip on my life radar. I do, however, think it’s important to stand back and take stock of my emotions and find some gratitude for journey as a whole, even if I’m standing back on one foot, while slightly wobbling on my crutches.
- Published in Blog