In my family of origin, I was indoctrinated with the core belief that I had to be working or grinding to justify my existence.
Given my Bipolar Disorder and addictive inclinations, this of course evolved into a compulsion. My felt sense was that I HAD to be busy doing something productive nearly every waking moment.
Like it was yesterday, I can still hear my mother telling me to “run like the devil’s on your ass” when I played little league baseball. I internalized that specific message, and many other similar nonverbal messages, universally applying them to nearly every facet of my life.
So I did a lot of grinding and working for many years. I felt compelled to have a job. Though I was under-employed for years, and lost jobs frequently, I rarely stayed unemployed for long, as I would tenaciously pursue and work some of the hardest, shittiest low wage jobs that were out there.
One of them nearly killed me when I fell into a huge vat of extremely hot sodium hydroxide/water solution and wound up with chemical and thermal burns on 20% of my body.
I remember feeling ashamed if I went out in public on days off, assuming everyone was thinking I was “less than” because I wasn’t at work.
And my compulsion to be productive spilled over to my personal life too. I was almost always working on some project, trying for some personal achievement, or working on self-improvement.
“No rest for the wicked” and “Idle hands do the work of the devil” we’re literally my obsessive mantras. I was almost constantly pushing myself to my limits and beyond.
Even 25 years into my Recovery journey, I still find myself morphing into a human doing, as John Bradshaw so aptly coined the state of compulsive busyness to “earn one’s right to be.”
But thank God for my experience, strength, hope, tools, and support network that now enable me to spend most of my time as a human being.
Rest, recovery, and reflection are essential aspects of my life today.