Pacing

VERB

  • 1  Walk at a steady speed, especially without a particular destination and as an expression of anxiety or annoyance:

    ‘we paced up and down in exasperation’
    ‘she had been pacing the room’
  •  2  Move or develop (something) at a particular rate or speed:
‘our fast-paced daily lives’

2.1 Lead (another runner in a race) in order to establish a competitive speed:

‘McKenna paced us for four miles’

2.2 pace oneself Do something at a slow and steady rate in order to avoid overexertion:

‘Frank was pacing himself for the long night ahead’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French pas, from Latin passus stretch (of the leg), from pandere to stretch.

Oxford Living Dictionary

Way back in 2006 when Eldest was a baby, my care coordinator’s favourite phrase was “you need to pace yourself”.  I found this intensely frustrating as the mother of a beautiful tiny human who needed me to shake off this depression and ‘get back with the program’.  I wanted to play and bond with her;  I wanted to have a tidy home; I wanted to take her out to baby groups and meet other mums.  But I was so afraid.  I was paralysed by the list of things I needed to do to feel like I was back in control of my life and functioning as I should as a new mother.

I mentally paced the floor, worrying about how my poor mental health was going to have a disastrous impact on her development.  I wept and wept at the psychologist’s office.  All I could say was “I’m so sorry”.

Fast forward to 2016 and I’m in my psychotherapist’s sitting room, looking out over the garden.  I’m using photographs to talk about Little One.  I’m in her trusting gaze, transported right back to the moment that I lay with her on the floor as she clutched her brightly coloured mermaid toy.  All I can say is “I’m so sorry darling”.

Now I’m really learning the hard lessons of pacing myself.  I’m regularly fine-tuning that delicate balance between motherhood and occupation.  I am learning to lay things down, to journal about my future aspirations but to caution myself not to run before I can walk.  I’m learning to be aware of the clamour of thoughts and ideas within me and to spend time over a cup of tea without multi-tasking.  My race pacers come in many forms, from the CPN to the employment support worker; from friends to mindfulness posts on Facebook.  I am learning not to feel so guilty, and to say “I’m so sorry” to myself when I push life too hard.  This is the work of Recovery.

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