Damsels in distress in fiction always have two things in common. The villains usually kidnap them and knights in shining armor almost always rescue them. Or whoever the hero happens to be in the course of the particular story.
In my story, the villain that kidnaps me is purely mental. You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “He doesn’t know when to quit.” Well, in my case, I truly don’t know when to stop. You’d think that with the heart problems that pacing myself would be easy. Just go at a nice, slow steady pace and then I would eventually get wherever I was going. But for me, it’s not that way. And definitely easier said than done.
When I was a kid, I had the desire to fit in and be like everybody else so completely that I played at the same pace they did.
And then I dropped. Hard.
I dropped so hard that I had to be rescued. I have had to be rescued many times over the course of my life. I am most definitely a damsel in distress when I get in those positions. And my rescuers mostly are my family members.
Once when I was at a camp in the summer with my cousins, I didn’t want to get out of the pool. The pool had a two-hour swim time and I was determined to enjoy it just like the rest of my fellow campers. I was supposed to tell them when I got tired and get out of the pool. Well. I never told them. I was having a very good time and I wasn’t tired. At least not for awhile. But then it happened. Suffice it to say that when the lifeguard blew the whistle telling us to all get out of the pool and that it was time to go back to the cabin, I couldn’t climb out.
I had literally exhausted myself so completely I could not move another muscle. I had to be pulled out of the pool and then we left camp early that week so that I could rest.
There have been plenty more incidents like this throughout my childhood.
I remember in the blizzard of 93, my siblings and I and the rest of the neighborhood kids were playing on sleds and having snowball fights. I played so hard and enjoyed myself so much that later I couldn’t walk home. My sister ended up having to go home to tell my parents that I was collapsed in the snow. I didn’t have to lay there that long. Dad later came to rescue me and carried me home.
This was especially problematic in elementary school. Physical education was required, of course. And all of my gym teachers said I could rest, but when they were barking orders to everyone else, I always kept on at their urging. I was supposed to be exempt from the physical fitness tests at the end of the year, but I went ahead with them anyway. Everyone was supposed to and they stressed everyone. So I did it. I was part of everyone wasn’t I? Naturally, I went as far as I could. And then I dropped.
Like a rock.
I had to rest in Mom’s room for the rest of the school day. Mom was a computer lab tech back then. Mom was really, really upset. I don’t remember much else about that day. But I remember mom was not happy and I remember passing out in her classroom and some of the other kids wondering what had happened.
Fast forward to adulthood. I’m still that same way. I still don’t know when to quit.
The second year Tim and I went to DragonCon, I had paid for a group of writer’s workshops. The workshop for the weekend cost extra and I was determined to enjoy it. The weekend is Labor Day weekend, but the workshops only last for the first three days. The first day I did three sessions. The second day I did five. I didn’t go to any sessions on the third day. I was too tired and ended up needing to rest in my hotel room the rest of the weekend.
Today I was cleaning. I intended to start cleaning only a little bit and just do a few minutes worth. I have some collectible dragons and I thought of a fun place to display them that was much better than the place I had them currently. But the place I wanted to put them was full to the brim of junk. So I got started cleaning and when I was done, Tim brought me a rag to wipe the dust off. I wiped the dust down and cleaned off my dragons and artfully arranged them on the shelf. The shelf looked mighty fine after I had finished cleaning it and the rest of it looked so horrible. It just didn’t seem right to stop right there. So I kept cleaning until I literally couldn’t clean anymore and had to stop.
Writing at least is easier for me to pace myself. I tend to write in scenes and scenes don’t last that long. I can write several without dropping like a rock.
But even in my writing one year that happened. It was the first year I participated in National Novel Writing Month and I was determined to make it to 50,000 words by the end of the month. Problem was, I was still only at 20,000 words. I was more than half of my word count behind. So I wrote five thousand words everyday for a week.
Then I dropped.
And it took me all of the next week to recover.
I don’t know why I’m like that. I’ve never really understood why. But I’ve always been that way. Perhaps somebody else can shed some light on it. Maybe my common sense on when to quit was part of the chromosome that was deleted.
But, hey, at least I know when to quit blog posts.