Saturday, March 31, 2012


Have you ever relaxed in a bathtub, and then pulled the plug and laid there as the water drained out?  You know that feeling that starts to happen as the water gets below about half way down your hip?  Where you feel like you might just slither away right down the drain?

That's how I've been feeling.

That pull.  My energy going down the drain.  Too heavy to get up.  Can't retrieve my energy from way down the tubes where it has run off.

It's a combination of things:

-The emotional and energetic "bowling balls" (as I call them), dragging around behind, always there making each step feel heavier and harder than it should be.

-The schedule:  Over-full doesn't even begin to cover it.  Yet it's what I have to do, so I'm doing it, except the tireder I get, the more things are falling through the cracks.

-The conflict between the important-but-not-urgent, the urgent-and-important, and lives and breathes it's hot, stale breath on my neck.

I'm dissatisfied with the amount of important-but-not-urgent things that are fallen by the wayside.  More and more I find myself dreaming of entire days and weeks when I could lovingly fold laundry, cook nice meals, straighten bright and welcoming bedrooms for each family member, brush the dogs out in my beautiful back yard, vacuum and mop my floors...

In theory I am in charge of my own schedule.  In reality I feel like I'm living on a treadmill with a speed set by someone else.  It doesn't seem like I have the time to do those things when I actually have the energy for it.

Energy.  Now there's a commodity I wish I could get more of.  I don't caffeinate, so my energetic levels are depressingly honest at all times.  My body is already suffering from pushing the overdrive button too many times, and it feels like now it is asking for (demanding?) respect in the form of rest.

I'm tired a lot.  I've seen a naturopath and am taking supplements to help my exhausted and faltering adrenals and thyroid.  All of what I'm experiencing physically makes perfect sense for what my body has going on.  The problem is, it feels like I don't have the luxury of really giving myself what I need.

I am thinking that this is a nearly universal problem in our society.  I'm not sure if I know anybody who is a mother that isn't living their life pedal-to-the-metal.  All of the moms busily getting their kids ready to drop off at day care before they put in a full day of work, and then go pick them up, take them home, feed them, bathe them, try to get in some quality time before popping them into bed and then trying to spend some quality time with their spouse as well.  All of the homeschool moms, spending their days doing at least two full time jobs simultaneously--trying to manage a household PLUS take on the gargantuan task of educating young minds....and usually doing it on too few financial resources, and picking up the extra slack to make it work.  Or, working a side job or running a business or whatever else they do to both remind themselves that they have brains and talents outside of the home, or just to help make ends meet.

There are a zillion varieties of what we all do.  I can't help but think that all of it is off-balance and maybe sucking the joy out of life.  When I imagine myself way up in the sky, looking down at all the life-suckingly-busy people, I feel so sad, I could cry for all of us.  Have we lost our way?  Has it always been like this in some form?

What would a simple-and-satisfying life look like?

When trying to answer this question, I'm always reminded of reading The Good Life.  It is one couple's story of living a self-sustainable life, and leaving space to enjoy life too.  They talk about how they divided up their time, working to grow and create only what they needed--never extra to sell or get into a business with.  They left margins in their life for art and music and poetry and friendships.  They were very consciously leaving space for each good and important thing.

It's inspiring.  Tempting.

Except, then, they didn't have six children to love and educate and help develop.  Heck--if it was just me I could cut out a huge range of the things that I do.  I'd eat cereal and take naps liberally and read a lot of books and grow some tomatoes.

I don't know how to do what they did.  It doesn't seem hardly even remotely possible for me.

I thought about trying to have a weekly Day of Rest in our family.  I found that the only day I could possibly take was Sunday.  But the only way it would actually be restful is if we didn't go anywhere, including church.  Truth be told, we have probably only gone to church about 3 times during this entire school year.  Unfortunately, very few of those Sundays ended up feeling entirely restful, because they doubled as Academic Panic Day, where we would scurry around to finish up papers and presentations for our homeschool program that meets on Mondays.

Throw in a little guilt and uncertainty about the relative okeedokeyness of barely attending church any more for your young children....and the rest is nominal at best.

Empathy has drained me as well.  I have come to believe that my capacity for empathy is probably at a level that is unhealthy for me.  This past week + has reminded me of how true this is.

A very dear person in my life has been living in violent circumstances with her spouse for several years.  Up until recently I have been the only person she confided in about what was going on.  Wanting to be supportive and to help, I've been the endless listening ear and confidant.  I have counseled, made suggestions, and offered to go to great lengths to help this person.  There has been a lot of hard stuff to hear and to try to be supportive through, while also being deeply concerned.

The texts would come all through the day, all through school time and work time and nap time and anytime.  And I said yes and helped and wrote back and was present with it, even at the expense of my own concentration of things that are primarily my responsibility and needing my attention.

And finally she had the courage to leave, taking her vulnerable small children with her.  When I got the text I felt like I had gotten the best gift I could have gotten at that moment, because I had been so worried about her safety.

And my emotional reaction to that made me a little bit worried for myself, because it reminded me that I have become very emotionally involved in this situation, yet I have no control over what's going to happen.  My heart is all out there for it, my energy has been pouring into it, and I'm vulnerable to how it's all going to go down, even though it's somebody else's fight.

For something like 10 days I've had more texts, requests for help, been begged to remind her why she left and what the truth is, and I won't lie--it has come at a personal cost to do all of these things.  Was it a cost I was willing to pay?  Yes!  To see her safe and in a peaceful situation would be worth so much to me.  And yet here today she texts to say that she thinks she'll go back tonite, that it seems right.

And my reaction just bubbled up in me so strongly.  The BS meter was ringing loud and clear.  There is nothing about what has been going on that makes this decision make sense.

I know, both from reading and from being told by two friends that have been in domestic violence situations, that she would be likely to go back.  That the first time they leave is typically the first of several before the final leaving happens.  I know it.  I understand that.  And yet I feel a sense of betrayal in it, because by crackie I've BEEN HERE FOR YOU and I feel like all of the emotional and energetic investment I have made are being disrespected.

And I know, I KNOW, before you try to explain it to me.  You don't have to.  I am able to see many sides to this, and I understand that she has to make the decision on her own, and she has to go back and live through some more hell before she can really walk away, blah blah blah blah.  I get it.  I understand the psychology of it to some extent.  Yes.

But I realize that I have just allowed myself to get in too deep, and I feel hurt and exhausted and angry.  I have kept it to myself, haven't said any of these things to her.  She has enough to deal with.  I cannot and will not become a different kind of bully in her life.  I want to be purely loving and supportive.

But there's that part of me that is just *pissed* and I feel disrespected and like I just don't know how I can continue on in this role of support person for someone who so clearly is going to falter for some more time.  I am glad that she has been forced to tell some other people about her problems, because I am burnt out on playing the role of sole confidant; burnt out from carrying that load. I don't even know for sure if she went back, but her uncharacteristic text silence and the glib facebook post from her husband make me think she has.  Really, whether or not she went tonite isn't the point. The point is that she can and probably will go back at some point, and I am in over my head in caring about this.  Today has shown me that, at the very least.

(I know...  I's not about me.  I feel somewhat guilty even admitting how I feel about this.  I just don't know how much more my heart can take!!)

My empathy is something that I think is one of the best things about me, and one of the worse as well.  Best for anybody that needs me, because I will cheer and be loyal and be endlessly available and sharing and open to help you and encourage you or listen to you and be compassionate.  Honestly, I have not found many people who give a damn as much as I do.  Worst for me because I don't know how to scale my empathy to a reasonable level.  I'm either all-in, or I'm pretty much all-out.

One thing I have learned about myself is that when people in my life have been the recipient of my care, and then they disrespect it in some way, generally speaking I will withdraw, and the relationship probably won't recover.  I can't give away such large pieces of my heart to people who treat me shabbily.  I feel like, if they cannot understand the value of what I have been giving and what I have to offer, then I just cannot go forward any more.  Maybe it's because I give so freely, so kindly, without ever asking for anything in return, that it is inevitable that some people will disrespect it.  After all--it has cost them nothing to have this piece of me.  I don't know how to open my heart to people, while also making sure they understand that *it costs me plenty to give it.*  How do you give with an open hand, but also insure some level of protection for yourself?  For a long time now, I've accepted that the vulnerability goes with the territory.  It's a noble thing to accept, but I'm not sure how completely healthy it is.  Is there a better (different?) way?  I've got plenty of people who need me, right here at my own home.  I'm not desperate to be spreading myself so thin.  If you don't want me on your team, say the word.  It's too painful to care about people who don't appreciate it and don't understand it.

It's very common that people will make comments about how busy I must be, about how they appreciate the time I have spent on helping them with something, blah blah blah.  In most cases, as soon as they don't like something I've done or not done or said or not said, they show me that they don't really understand or appreciate what I've been sacrificing for them at all.

It's discouraging.

This has been a long and winding road of rambles.  I shut my phone off hours ago and plan to leave it off for much of tomorrow.  I need some insulation.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Helpful Hints for Hopeful Heroes

I was reminded last night of a few things I shouldn't have forgotten.

One, don't look back. Because when you do, you will find that all that same crap that you walked away from is still right there, plus it brings up all of your old wishes to be heard, be understood, to resolve the unresolvable, and not have people persist in choosing not to frame what you have shared in an honest way. You have already put all of that to rest, so why go back and find that you have to wrestle with it all over again?  It's over.  Some people will not understand you.  I will not be able to understand some people.  Each of us is more connected to our own perspective than anything else. Fair enough.  Some relationships do not work, are not healthy, and are not meant to continue.  When you cannot remember all of the reasons why, at least remember that you had good reasons, and don't look back.  I can't help but think that the whole turning-into-a-pillar-of-salt thing is metaphorical for something...

Two, we are who we are.  Not a lot changes.  Ridiculous people generally remain ridiculous.  Jerky people tend to remain jerks.  Abusers will continue to abuse.  Past behavior is a great predictor of future behavior, my wise mother recently noted.

I used to try to hang in there with relationships both because of love and principle.  People are valuable.  Relationships are precious.  Continuity is rare and important.  However, I have learned that sometimes things just can't be fixed, and perspectives are so far apart that a healthy middle ground cannot be found.  Sometimes the pain of the other person is just too wearying, and you have to say "No more" in order to protect yourself and be able to keep the rest of your life running.

I have learned that, aside from having to let go of a past ideal, my decisions to say no to harmful or even disappointing or exhausting relationships have been good decisions for me and my family.  I don't have a single regret in that department so far.  I have gotten stronger and wiser in being able to see things clearly, and have flexed my muscles that have allowed me to walk away and choose to allow myself to be healthy and stop subjecting myself to problems that won't be solved.