We have all been there. Overwhelmed with work, family, responsibilities - a "to do" list that seems to grow bigger every time you mark something off as three more things are added. Running our bodies on empty as we try to accomplish 30 hours worth of work and activities into each 24 hour day.
As women especially, we have an innate desire to handle it all. Perhaps it is our God-given nature of being nurturers that keeps us focused on everyone around us without thinking even for a moment about ourselves.
I don't know at what point in my life I decided that it was up to me to save the world but I have always taken all the responsibility upon my shoulders with never a moment to ask for help. I am the strong one (I told myself). I am the one who can handle this (I can't). I don't need any help (I do).
I was raised in a household where children were expected to be perfect and my parents offered no help in my pathway to growth. There was no compassion. No "I Love You's" in my household. "Love" was earned by achieving things and acceptance was only given when I did things for them. Then after a traumatic event in my early teens, I realized very early on that I was on my own as I navigated through this thing called life.
And so it began. At a very early age. Working very hard to "achieve" things in my life while also working very hard to please others (that whole acceptance thing again). Aspiring to be better is always a good thing. Doing things for others is always a good thing. But when you lose yourself in the process - things can go bad quickly. And they did. For me.
I was working so hard in my life to gain the favor of others and never disappoint anyone that I lost who I was in the process. I was trying to handle EVERYTHING that life threw at me - by myself - and it almost cost me my life. I was sinking fast but I was too afraid to ask for help. In my warped perception, asking for help was a sign of weakness. Strong people don't ask for help.
Oh, but my friend, it is quite the opposite. Strong people can only remain strong because they DO ask for help. What I didn't understand then was my body and mind just needed a break sometimes. But taking a break - for me - meant I couldn't handle the things life was throwing at me and I certainly didn't want to appear weak to anyone (I was - after all - my father's daughter). So instead of asking for help or understanding - I did the only thing I knew how to do. I ran away.
Yep. That's right. I didn't understand what was happening in my brain. All I knew is I needed to get away or I would go crazy. So instead of being rational and explaining to my husband that I needed some time away - I just - well - ran away. Several times. Never very far. Usually just to the lake and always only for a few hours. Once I had shed some tears and prayed a few prayers, I would pull myself together and go back home much to the relief of my husband.
Now my husband is a very understanding man. All I would have had to say is I need some time alone and he would have been fine with that. But asking for time alone somehow meant I could not handle everything in my life right now (again, warped perception). Taking time for "me" was selfish (it's not). But these were the thoughts that permeated through my brain and the reasons I spent so much time alone at the lake.
Fast forward a few years and I have learned - finally - that it is okay to take some time and just recharge. I have started to listen to my body and my brain and learn the signs when it's time to shut down for a while. And that's what I do. Whether that means curling up on the couch and binge watching my favorite shows or taking a girls trip and leaving the laptop at home - I have finally realized what it takes to maintain a healthy balance in my life.
But most importantly - I have started communicating that need to my husband or kids. I mean, most of the time they already know I need some down time because I usually become quite a witch when I'm feeling overwhelmed but at least finally I am able to communicate that need to them without feeling guilty about it.
So today is a nothing kind of day. My son and husband went fishing and I had planned to attend a yoga class with my daughter but I cancelled and just stayed home. And I was honest with her and she understood.
Today - I woke up feeling drained and exhausted so I listened to my body and just chose to rest.
And I am still a strong woman because of it.