Tuesday, September 17, 2013

BTSBTW - Confession: The Spin-Cycle I Accidentally Perpetuated with My Life

During the past several years, other women often asked how on Earth I did everything I did:

Care for two kids./Nurture a marriage/Cook from scratch,/Garden and preserve./Write for blogs and websites./Own a business./Work part-time for a church./Volunteer./Keep a clean house./Engage in friendships./And take care of myself.

I've stood there uncomfortably as others have remarked such things, hearing not only disbelief in their voice but also a sort of self-depreciation at the admission of not being able to do it all. My response used to be something along the lines of not really doing as much as they thought I did.

But I wish I would have answered differently because this issue goes way deeper than my reply; that little sentence speaks worlds about the intersection of perfectionism and busyness and comparing and success and embracing ourselves. And it has much to do with perpetuating cycles of shame and feelings of failure and not loving ourselves and others.

I wish, instead, I would have said:

1. "We can have it all -- but we can't have it all at the same time without something suffering.  I may do a lot of things, but I don't do anything well. "

Don't miss it: anything and well are the key words in that sentence. But being a perfectionist {recovering now, thank you}, I had given it my best shot for too many years.

Now that I've cleared many responsibilities from my plate that just made me entirely too busy, I can tell you that doing all of that, even while not doing any all of it well, didn't come without a price.

Often times my family suffered -- namely my marriage because while you can't just leave two small children unattended, you can, indeed, leave a grown man alone after a long day so you can crash face first into bed.

Also, my health has suffered. I spent way too many years burning the candle at both ends and creating stress responses in my body and mind that have had lasting effects  I hadn't totally started identifying until two summers ago when my body started crying out for some serious TLC. Thankfully, my husband and I recognized its cries before serious disease states set in and began diligently working to lighten each of our stress loads.

And also, our small business, some of my friendships and even at times my kids have suffered from having an owner/friend/mom who simply had too much to juggle to invest a good chunk of time into any one thing.

So while it looked like I was doing it all, and maybe it even looked like I was doing it all well, I really wasn't.

I didn't understand that busyness was actually eating away at the parts of life I want to do really, really well -- build a strong marriage, nurture the two small souls with who we've been entrusted and be in community with others.

2. And then there's the bigger issue -- the comparisons we make when measuring ourselves against others help us form terribly imperfect definitions of success and also degrade the beauty of being created as individuals.

What I wish I would have said more often during these conversations was that while I can write an article or blog post or poem in 15 minutes or so, I simply could not balance my check book in that amount of time. Or fix a broken anything in our home with ease. Or sew anything relatively straight.

Because none of those things come naturally to me and none of those things naturally interest me enough to want to invest time into learning about them.

And that's ok. Because that's not me. And just because I can't do those things or you can't write a blog post with ease doesn't mean we are failing at anything other than trying to be someone else. I wish I would have realized long ago how demeaning it is when I compare myself to others. By doing what we were created to do and what we love, we are actually far more successful at being ourselves. And I think who we are and how that influences us to live is far more important than what we accomplish purely out of skill or muscle power.

I guess that would have been awkward to have said all of that during those exchanges, but I often wish for redos on those conversations -- a chance to stop the spin cycle I was accidentally perpetuating by living that kind of life coupled with relative silence.

A chance to honestly dialogue about these issues that keep us stuck on the spin cycles of guilt and shame and self-deprication and instead hang all of the truth out to dry ...  hooked up to the clothesline, dancing in the wind for everyone to see.

1 comment:

  1. Such wisdom. For me the busyness was giving into vanity, an assurance that I could handle much. I think it was a sin, and I know it detracted from what was truly important.


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