When I was young, I would wander our backyard, looking for fuzzy black-and-orange catepillars. I would use a twig to catch them and place them in a jar as “pets.” I would put more twigs and leaves in the jar for them, but often, they died (I think). One, however, began to form a chrysalis, but the jar fell to the floor one day, and we rehomed the caterpillar outside.
I’ve been thinking about that caterpillar a lot lately. I feel a lot like it.
I left my job at the end of January. To the public, to those who are not so close to me, I did it because I wanted to launch headfirst into my coaching business and to pursue a creative project that I had come my way.
All of that was true, but now, nearly nine months into self-employment, it’s fair to say that burnout has caught up with me. Caring for my mother, who now has late-stage dementia, and being support for my father while also nurturing a relationship with my wonderful partner (and being a dog-mom) has taken its toll.
My business took off at the end of the spring, and I even started coaching General Managers, CEOs, and high-level directors at various organizations across the U.S. – across the world, even.
I drafted my book and had a great time doing it.
I started to take back control of my health, walking regularly and even getting back on my yoga mat, not just at home but also at a studio (how I’ve missed studios).
But after taking my first out-of-state trip since fall of 2019 last month, I’ve found myself tired. So tired. So much so that nearly every week there’s at least one day that I can’t get myself to do anything truly productive. Some days, I can’t even get out of bed.
What I’m experiencing, I’ve come to admit in recent days — between sobbing fits in my car or in the shower or even in the coffee shop — is that I’m burned out. Severely so.
The emotional toll of being a primary caregiver for eight years has finally caught up with me. In that time, I’ve also dealt with the “disappearance” of my one and only sibling (that’s a story for another day), graduating law school and deciding not to take the Bar exam, running three households and holding down a full-time job while running a business on the side. All while maintaining three households at any given time.
Just thinking about it now makes me exhausted. And it’s bringing up the tears.
That said, there’s been so much joy in the journey. So much learning. So much love. So many memories. So much appreciation for life, connection, loved ones, relationships. All along with a better philosophy about life, meaning, purpose, and the seasons that come and go as we go about our days – much of which is unexpected.
I once, many years ago, told someone that I didn’t think I was resilient. But now I know I’m more resilient than I could have known anyone could ever be.
So this fall, I’m giving myself a break. A time to step back, focus on the work that I already have lined up – workshops and coaching, as well as more edits on my book. I’m going to take the opportunity to slow down, reflect, examine who it is I’ve become so that I can move forward with a better understanding of who I can be.
I’ve proven myself these past several years that I’m capable of far more than I ever imagined, that I’m a better person that I ever gave myself credit for. I know now that my many, many mistakes over the years do not define me, that the past is just an illusion, as is the future – neither exists, and all we have is the now.
I’m giving myself permission to BE.
It’s scary, this letting go of pushing, chasing, achieving.
But it’s necessary. More than that, it’s crucial.
I’m entering my chrysalis. And we all know what emerges from the chrysalis when the time is right.