A Simple Reminder When Life is Overwhelming
Self-improvement is a difficult hurdle to jump when your head is not in the game. Sometimes we must stop and allow ourselves a few moments to breathe through a situation to realize it isn’t as bad as we had thought.
Last Christmas, I was driving to the kids’ school to pick them up. I was zoning out worrying about work, money, my marriage and all of the other things that make up this fancy life that I have built for myself.
“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” was playing merrily on the radio. It was sort of digging its way into my brain and munching on it from the inside out. It was this song, for some reason, that set me over the edge. Tears began to dribble down my face, and I quietly began to spiral.
I was exhausted, tired of having to choose between work and my children’s school play. I was fed up with having to schedule what seemed like every second of my life in some vain hope of being the wife/mom/woman who could do it all.
Or, at least look like she’s doing it all. This is because in my twisted mind, as long as people don’t see me freaking out, I’m still doing okay. I am tired of brushing it off when people ask me if I’m doing alright. When they gently tell me that I’m looking a little tired today. They will softly place their hand on my shoulder and try to make meaningful eye contact with me while asking if I’d like to talk about it.
The real truth is, I cannot talk about it. Isn’t that apparent from the way I shy away from any sort of meaningful conversation?
When people ask me these simple questions, I want to rage.
I want to scream, NO! NO, I AM NOT DOING OKAY! GO GET AN ADULT OR WHOEVER IS IN CHARGE AROUND HERE, I NEED HELP A.S.A.P!
I feel weak. Scared, and above all, I am unsure about anything past the end of this sentence.
How can I improve when I feel like I am forever failing?
I’ve let too many people down, and I do not add up to my definition of self-worth. But then I remember that I am the adult. I am the one in charge. I am the help.
However, as I pulled up to the kids’ school, I pushed all of the emotional garbage I was feeling deep down inside myself. I checked myself in the rear-view mirror, assuring that no sensitive evidence had been left upon my usual chipper mom-face. I straightened my hair. The hair that moments ago, I was ready to pull out of my head. I let out a tiny sigh because anything more significant would let in the sadness that I had willed away. Inwardly I said, “Now is not the time for crying.” I’d been saying this to myself a lot lately. Now is not the time for crying. What a sad statement. What a disparaging thing to say to oneself. The perfect way to avoid self-improvement.
I teach my kids that emotions are our friends.
That we should always listen to our feelings because they are trying to tell us something about our inside self. I teach my babes that if they need to cry, they should, and then they should try to reason why the sadness came in the first place. I tell them to do the same with anger, excitement and all the other emotions that we feel daily. Our feelings should never be ignored.
Obviously, this is all true, except concerning me.
I felt that I did not have the time nor the energy to deal with that hullabaloo right now. I was far too busy and important and doing all the things in life that I absolutely must be doing, and that takes up every last second of my day. Therefore I simply had zero time to deal with this emotional junk.
But, if not now, when? A tiny and very meek voice said from the back of my brain.
My son hopped in the car, his cheeks red from the chilled December air, and his breath was spurting out in fits and starts. “Mom, I just saw a car that looked exactly like a person,” he paused as gales of laughter spewed from his mouth. “The side mirrors looked like its ears!” He was rolled over on the backseat, unable to control his glee over this car-person sighting.
This sudden burst of hilarity reminded me of how lucky I was. I thought about how much I love my children and my husband and the life we have built together. Although it can be difficult at times, it is all worth it for moments like this.
It crashed down on me, the knowledge that I am not alone.
Come to think of it; I am the least alone person I know. My close friends are only a phone call away, and I have a supportive mom. I have a husband who is my best friend. I also have me. And I am a pretty good listener if you give me a chance.
I realize that the work stuff, the worrying over what everyone is thinking about my stuff, the anything that is not in my immediate circle of love stuff is just fluff stuff.
We will eventually make money. We will accomplish the goals and finish the projects in the time that it takes. It is that simple.
Sometimes, I find myself getting so caught up in the what-if’s of life that I neglect the things that need me most. Presently, I need me the most.
When we arrived home, I told the kids that they could go and play because I was going to write. They were happy enough with this decision as they assumed I had forgotten about homework time.
Instead, I decide that homework could wait. Cleaning the house and working on ads for our business could wait too. Right now, for 45 entire minutes, I was going to give myself the gift of, well, me.
There will always be days when life is too much.
When the everyday anxieties boil through the thin membrane of composure that usually holds us together, and there will be crying. The crying is inevitable. It is human, after all.
I have decided that it is time to change my slogan.
Rather than say, “Now is not the time for crying,” I will remind myself to breathe and think.
Now may not be the time for crying, because crying in front of a stranger who is merely asking you to kindly move to the left so he can reach the Kefir milk in your local grocer is a bit much. Even for this drama queen.
Breathe and Think. It is a simple reminder to breathe away the stress from the moment and think about why it is there in the first place.
The answer is in there somewhere, and the first step to finding it is to breathe and think.