How Would I Know I’m Doing Too Much When I Thought I Wasn’t Doing Enough?

I’ve always had the feeling of someone pushing me in the small of my back to keep doing more. It’s very familiar for me to be motivated by feeling overwhelmed and abandoned at the same time. All of my things to do are set before me with no one in sight to share the burden. That is how life has been for me since I can remember.

My parents’ message to me was, “Our problems are your problems”. There wasn’t ever the experience of freedom from that. In my life, having support to handle what I have put on my own plate doesn’t even come to mind. Of course, I did things on my own. I’m not sure I knew how to receive help. How would I even know how to ask for it? I went to sleep and woke up with thoughts of the next things needed to be done.

Before I learned about self-care through breathing techniques, meditation and prayer, I thought my worth and value depended on the amount and type of things I completed. As though I was vying for that ever-elusive ‘Person Of The Year Award’, how my children and I looked and behaved was of vital importance. All or nothing thinking had me in the clutches of keeping up with what I saw and heard going on around me.

In my book, “Am I Going To Be Okay?” I answered that question by telling myself, “If I did enough.” This type of reasoning led me to being chronically exhausted with high levels of anxiety and eventual depression. “I will be okay if I do enough” was my inner guideline always in place. My inner task master/ prison guard made sure there was always more to do, always the next thing on the list to ensure ‘everything will be okay”.

Was I ‘on stage’ throughout my own children’s pre-school, elementary school, middle and most importantly high school years? The pressure to be the perfect mom made it seem that way. The trouble with putting all that energy into imagining everyone was watching what I was doing and saying is, no one was watching. Those other mothers were doing the same thing and all of us were getting nowhere. We need to hit a bottom, have something life altering to happen, before we see the folly of it all. It just doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if our house is the biggest, cleanest and most fun place for everyone to come. For me, that all became pretense. In the massive, million-dollar mansion we built with five bedrooms, five bathrooms and five fireplaces, there were times we couldn’t find each other.

Now, I find myself loving my small condo. I rent a cottage in the Adirondack Mountains and a place in Paris that are both small, cozy where I do what I please and as much as I want. It has taken many years and adjustments along the way to see that BALANCE is an inside job. No one is watching what I’m doing. The most anyone pays attention to is how I treat others. Actually, how I treat myself makes the most difference. It feels the best to love, be loved and be okay.

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© 2016 by Debra Whittam. All Rights Reserved