I am not unique. Americans live in a fast paced world filled with deadlines, have to’s, hurry up’s, over booked schedules, and the internet highway… which leads me to a street called Exhausted. Can you relate? In order to “live” in this world I have to juggle a lot of balls at once. Up until recently I proudly wore a crown, with lots and lots of jewels, which I received at my self produced coronation ceremony. I am the competent, multi-tasking, productively functional Sovereign Queen of my Queendom. Oh yes, I can do it all!
Here are some examples that you might identify with yourselves, especially if you are a mother. While frying burgers for dinner in a pan, I also hold a conversation on the phone, usually confirming an appointment, carry a load of laundry upstairs while wiping up the dust bunnies off each step with my sons dirty socks that I just picked up off the living room floor, drop off the hamper of clean clothes that we live out of for the week and then race downstairs and go flip the burgers. Then add cheese.
I don’t have time to go to the gym so I have incorporated my cardio workout into my life by running to work fully dressed with my pocketbook banging off my hip pretending that I have to catch the train. I try to look very important by looking down. I’m up to two blocks. I have started to run everywhere because I think if I have to walk it, why not run? Burn those calories. If you see me, please honk. I need encouragement.
Another real life example is while taking a shower, I brush my teeth, wipe down the tiles with a cleaning sponge and plan what I have “to do” for the rest of the day in my head. If my kids are around I am usually shouting out “don’t forget your books” or “I won’t be home until late today” and their favorite “go take the dog to the park”… they often retaliate. I continue to wash everything and I spend the rest of my shower arguing.
Am I the only one? Do other people multi-task constantly? I carry a dust cloth in my home and wipe down everything as I walk around. I consider myself a professional picker upper because I am constantly picking up a book, shoe, or glass and depositing where it belongs.
Recently this behavior started to wreak havoc on my brain. I can’t remember things. My memory is fizzling out. I know this because I ask my son “did you do your homework?”, He replies with something and then I ask him the same question about seven more times. I’m forgetting things. I never forget things. Recently I find myself running back into the house because I forgot my phone in the charger or a jacket, or something I need. Yesterday I drove to CVS specifically to pick up cat food. Thomas, my cat was down to one kibble. I did my shopping, pulled up to my home and Hello??? I forgot the cat food, the reason I went to the store. Luckily I didn’t exit the car and unpack the make up I just bought so I quickly drove back, to Thomas’s approval. It’s exhausting.
I have assessed this crisis recently and have thoroughly tried to find ways to change this behavior. I am 45 years old but my memory is 82. Time management would be the “professionals” vocabulary. I can not find a solution because I am the bread winner, cleaning lady, cook, driver, coach, teacher, mother and the list goes on. Some days I want to drive around with a crock pot in the back of my car just so I know my kids are getting dinner. Seriously!
This has become so problematic that I took it to my therapist. Wouldn’t you be if you lived like me? My therapist and I have spent the last few sessions addressing this issue because I can’t remember what we discussed the week before. This week I had a breakthrough. I remembered what my brilliant therapist said. Yea brain!
Here’s the skinny. I hope this helps you too. I’m not loosing my mind. My age could be a slight factor but not equal to the degree of my forgetfulness. I have been diagnosed as a chronic multi-tasker. I didn’t know this was a disease. Multi-tasking used to work for me and I was proud of my abilities to…multi-task. Well, no more. It has turned its back on me and I, as well as everyone in my life, am suffering. It’s a family disease. It effects everyone. The good news is there is help.
My no nonsense, tell it like it is therapist gives it to me straight. I am not being present in my life. (I secretly think she is a recovering multi-tasker herself but don’t know due to the therapist/patient boundaries.) My response of course was denial. Look at all I do. How can you say I’m not present in my life? My ego was being assaulted. Eventually when my brain calmed down and I was teachable, Lynn (an alias name) told me that by doing all these things at the same time I wasn’t concentrating on any of them therefore multi-tasking is affecting my memory. Oh, the shame. I had to lay down on the couch. It took a few minutes for me to process what I was hearing. Finally it resonated with me and acceptance followed.
Now onto a plan of action. The plethora of events I must do daily is not going to change anytime soon. To think that I can focus on one thing at a time is only going to set me up for a relapse. The key here is balance.
Here is the suggested prescription, which I know but don’t do. I must meditate and be still daily with myself. Now I love to do this on vacation but it this producing anything?? Yikes, I’m slipping back in the disease. By meditating and consciously practicing quieting my over stimulated mind, I will achieve a renewal in energy and clarity. Thus, I wont have a constant forgetter for a brain. So simple and yet so frightening to trust that doing nothing is doing something. I have to do this one day at a time If want to be present in my life and stop the insanity. My name is Mary and I am a recovering multi-tasker. I have one day.
Just like the sober bartender, the irony of it is that I teach meditation and wellness. That my friends is what I’m usually multi-tasking about.