I’m writing this post at 8:47am from my dining room table, surrounded by post-its, each with to-dos and ideas and MUST DO NOWs scrawled on them. I had planned to get up early this morning before school drop-offs and get a start on the day, but – alas – I am tired. Late night decisions about early morning risings never seem to pan out, but for some reason I keep thinking they will.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way my plans seem to get upended each day in unexpected ways, leaving me to feel like a ping pong ball in a blender. I didn’t know that this was grown-up life and maybe that’s because it wasn’t exactly like this for our parents or because I was a kid and thus was in my own bubble of things that felt more important than the grown-ups around me.
I’m not sure. What I am sure about is that the ping-ping blender life isn’t working out so well for me. And I’m aware that there are some shifts happening inside of me that are causing me to pay attention, closely, to the ways in which I attempt to care and produce while being utterly depleted.
The discovery here is that no one wins when this formula of adulting is in play. My work suffers. My creativity evaporates. My kids feel my stress. I am disorganized in every area. I am not present with the important stuff. My relationship with joy and meaning is squashed. And my health is at risk. Going 150% and only get 10% of anything done in any one area is most certainly hurting me and my life.
Now, the response to any woman or primary caregiver when the above paragraph is bravely, finally uttered is: You need to start saying No and you need to start taking care of yourself. Put your oxygen mask on first. Ooof, there’s truth here. And there’s also oppression. The denial of reality and the attempts to “choose” our way out of systemic, societal negligence for the lives of primary caretakers is, at best, not working.
This advice always lands me in the abyss of not wanting to be a martyr or live in a victim mentality and also wanting to believe myself about the reality I am living. The space between these two extremes, the tension here, this is where I am opting to sit. It’s uncomfortable. It’s the abyss. My mother’s mother and her mother’s mother and the trauma handed down over and over lives here. My past and my own trauma lives here. The choices I made for my life before I knew better live here. My fears of the future and the world and my children’s lives live here. The impossible equation of money and security and survival mode live here. It’s all here.
So, this month, I am just sitting here in the tension, in the abyss. It brings me to a place where I begin to see and feel the rise of my wise self surface. The part of me that I have NOT been connecting with because she is not interested in chaos and the rat race. She doesn’t judge it, she just knows she’s not more powerful than it. So, she sits that dance out and makes quiet, personal decisions that all add up to a new formula: Worth.
I know that in choosing the path of Worth, that there will be loss here. If I am opting out of the depletion equation, then some things will not be possible for me to chase anymore. But, if the gain is health and joy and connection, even as things in the world remain as they are, then, ok, I’m in. I either learn this now or I learn it when my body/spirit have had to hit a bottom (again). I’d like to have the grace to meet this need before it has to get that bad (again).
I know we all need better tools than just the advice to “put our oxygen masks on first”. This is why this November in MommaStrong, our challenge is about Aging Out: The Things We Leave Behind as We Get Older. And in case you don’t know what the heck a challenge here is like, basically, you register, you join the challenge group in our community, you listen to one short episode of our mini podcast each week, and you comment or discuss as you like. OH, and you try to show up for 5-15 minutes of exercise as often as possible during the challenge.
The challenge starts on Monday, November 7th, which is soon!. Join me in this special adventure, before 2023 comes begging you for big change. If you are a current member, you can register by logging in to your account, clicking the “Challenges” link in the teal navigation menu and following the instructions there. If you are a new member, HELLO! Simply sign up for a membership and follow those directions above.
I’ll see you (and your abyss) there.