Hello, folks. Long time no type. Yeah, I’m not doing so well lately. We’ve been busy unpacking a U-Haul full of 40 years of emotional baggage and I am worn out. “We” is my husband and I. We are good. Our relationship is fine and things are ok there, but he is starting to deal with things from his childhood that he has just shoved behind trying to be a high achiever, complete multiple Ironman triathlons, be the top in his career field, etc. Now that he has done all those things, there’s nowhere to hide all that stuff anymore. Dealing with all of this means that we’re having to set new boundaries to make our little family as healthy as possible. And it’s pissing people off. Now, (and I hear this has something to do with maturing and approaching 40 years of age) I am to the point where I don’t really care about the opinions of those who are being critical of us right now. They can continue to say negative things about us, but it’s still exhausting to deal with all that AND still be civil. If you know me in person, you probably know that I am not a fan of pretending that I like you if I don’t. So this is tough for me. (And before you worry about me putting this out there, I seriously doubt the people involved in this even read this blog. They know about it, but they never really follow stuff we do unless they can somehow make it reflect on them, and this blog isn’t big enough for that. It’s cozy. And nothing I say here names names or is untrue, so suck on that, energy vampires.)
In the interest of having a professional to support our undertaking, we started seeing a therapist. I am a big believer in having someone to talk to and having someone to offer advice on how to navigate rocky crossings in life. She was supportive about creating the boundaries and we followed her advice. But what I took away from the most recent visit was not constructive for me at all. The quote was repeated several times and expounded on. And while I don’t disagree with the sentence itself, the follow up explanations hurt. (Maybe because it is true?) I don’t like criticism, and I know no one really does, but I try to take it to heart and understand where the truth in it is. But that’s not always a healthy place for my psyche. With my depression and my bitchy self-talk, it goes from “Hmmm. That’s interesting.” to “I am a terrible person and there is nothing I can do to make things better.” in about the span of a single breath. And now I am stuck there.
“Children come first.” Well, yeah. Obviously. I love my daughter more than anything and I would die for her and I have lived for her, even when I didn’t want to. “Children come before your relationship with each other, before your job, and before yourself.” Ohhhkay. I’m not necessarily disagreeing with this, but I don’t think it’s that absolute. My relationship with my husband is pretty damn important for my child’s healthy, stable environment and as an example of what she should expect in a relationship (love, communication, compromise, taking time for each other…). It’s also important because it will still be there when she has moved to college and off into the world as a (big goal here) happy, well-adjusted adult who contributes to society. My job is what pays the bills. We had a really really rough time financially in the last few years and we are still struggling to get back on our feet. We’re doing it, but it’s stressful and not easy. I am the higher earner in our family and while my employer and my coworkers are AMAZING in being flexible when needed, I still have a fairly unpredictable schedule. If a sick puppy or an asthmatic cat or a patient who has been hit by a car or a patient I have just diagnosed with a serious disease comes in at 5:30, I may be there til 7:00 or later. I love my daughter. I love my patients. I (usually) love my career. And people think I’m good at it. This is part of my career. It’s not every day, but it’s often. And it’s busier and worse in the summer. When we tried to explain the nature of our jobs, she shrugged and just repeated “Well, children come first.”
So, all this work I have done to make it ok that I have a career and don’t stay at home with my (healthy, smart, happy) daughter and to make it ok that I take time to exercise and work on my mental health was completely undone. My inner bitchy voice is louder than ever. I don’t see any kind of solution and now I know that I cannot be a priority. Time to run after work? That’s selfish and you should be with your family. That voice is always there, but I had really really started to quiet it. Now it has a bullhorn. I am distracted and guilty when I am at work when I “should be at home”. The other drama hasn’t helped. Learning that the people who claimed to be helping and begged to watch my daughter were actually telling others that I just couldn’t take care of my little girl and they always had to care for her was another huge blow.
TLDR: When people say that you should take care of yourself and you can’t pour from an empty cup and you should be kind to yourself, they are full of shit and are probably talking behind your back.
I know that isn’t always true. But my tenuous self-worth and my high-achiever personality and my anxiety and my depression won’t really let me see otherwise right now. I am taking my medication more religiously than I have ever taken anything. (I’m looking at you, birth control pills.) But I am back in that dark space. I have no energy. I have no interest in anything (typing this was a struggle). My husband is worried about me and he can’t help. Don’t worry, you guys. I’m not suicidal. I know how that feels and I am not there right now. I just can’t will myself out of this. I know I need rest and I know I need healthy food and I know I need exercise, but all that feels so daunting. I tell myself “just take one step. nothing else, just one step. you’re not obligating yourself to anything beyond that. just a step” but even that isn’t working. There’s a fog in my brain and I can’t hold a thought more than 10 seconds. My acting skills are on point at work, but I’m too tired for them at home.
I’ve beat this before and I will beat it again. I don’t share this to bring you down, sweet reader. I’m just committed to sharing this mental journey with you and right now the scenery is pretty ugly. I’m not even sure that’s the right word, ugly. I can’t even see scenery. It’s just grey and dull. I appreciate any good thoughts you can send my way. If you’re where I am, let me know. Hang on to me, because I am going to start climbing back up any day now, and I am happy to help pull you up with me. I was strong before and I am still the same person, so I know I can do this. Once I have a minute to rest.
Hahaha. Maybe this was therapeutic. I may have found the mental image to be my walking stick on this journey. “Once I have a minute to rest” triggered it.
When my husband was doing one of his Ironmans, I joined him during the last half of the marathon. He hadn’t taken in nearly enough nutrition and he was fading. He was walking and said, “I just need to sit down for a minute.” I looked at him and said, “No. You can’t sit down right now or you won’t be able to get back up. Let’s just keep moving. You don’t have to move fast; you just have to keep going.” Then I handed him a cup of flat Coca-Cola and we kept walking. He finished (and immediately signed up for another).
“Let’s just keep moving.” Right now, I think I’ll go grab a Mexican Coca-cola before the rest of the journey.
Edit: I don’t want it to seem like I’m blaming this therapist. She’s been doing this for 30 years and I’m sure she’s great. My psyche is the problem in this scenario, I think.