**Yesterday’s post was written at the beginning of last week. Before the total spiral downward. I didn’t even have the energy to post it because I was focusing on getting breaths of fresh air.
The last couple weeks have been rough. Just typing that makes me feel horrible. I have so much to be thankful for. I have an amazingly supportive husband and two boys who are really fun to hang out with. I am lucky enough to be in a position where I get to practice in the career of my choosing. From the outside looking in, I have everything I have ever dreamed of and wanted. I should be grateful for all that. I am, but lately it has just been hard. I can’t quite put my finger on one big culprit. A whole bunch of things just keep popping up.
And then, to make things worse, I feel guilty when all the little things compound and everyday life isn’t enjoyable. It’s like I’ve slapped the Universe in the face, and said, “Thanks for giving me everything but everyday life was hard last week.” I don’t want anything more, the last couple weeks just felt yucky. I didn’t feel good. The deep down lows came and it seemed as if there would never be an end. It felt like a dark, heavy, scratchy wool blanket was pushing down on my head. I couldn’t breath and I couldn’t find the strength to throw it off. It was suffocating.
Looking back on it, I see a lot of obvious contributing factors. Tim was traveling for business. I hate when he’s away. When he’s home, it’s not like we are talking and interacting all the time, both of us would be so tired out if that were the case. The comfort comes just knowing we’re home together. It’s sitting in the same room, just feeling the animal warmth that is comforting.
The boys hate when Tim is gone too. Both boys have default coping strategies when this happens. Luke’s is turning up the obnoxious noises. He pokes and prods, literally and figuratively. Jack’s default is extra emotions and neediness. He will sob in the shower and want to stay home with me all day rather than skipping happily off to school. He gets extra lonely at night so he sleeps with me. All of these behaviors are sweet and understandable. It’s good that we all miss Tim, but it’s hard.
When I’m low, these coping strategies push me over the edge. I don’t have any shred of patience. We were in the car last week and the boys were each crunching on their snacks in the back seat. I exploded, “If you can’t chew with your mouths closed, YOU DON’T GET TO EAT!!” Whoops. I had to apologize for that one later. The boys understood that Mom slipped down into crazy town, but they were grateful for the apology.
Then Luke got sick so my unneedy one became understandably needy. It was nice to lounge on the couch with him and hang out while Jack was off at school. The fever-induced night terrors were hard though. Watching my usually independent, strong boy become listless was hard. Not getting any quiet alone time was hard. Losing my patience was hard. Realizing that I was being selfish and ungrateful was harder.
All these factors, along with multiple others kept kicking dirt in my eyes. A concerning email from a teacher, neighborhood drama, stepping on the scale after missing a few days at the gym. I should have known better than to subject myself to that last one. But when I’m low, there’s no logical emotional reasoning happening upstairs. To top it all off, the dang dog got an extra itchy butt. A large part of my days consisted of chasing her around the house with carpet cleaner in hand.
I know that all four of us are in an extremely lucky life position. Since I stay at home, we don’t have to manipulate any crazy schedules when Tim travels. The boys get to keep doing what they normally do each day and so do I. Since we have Skype and phone calls and texting, we get to connect with Tim all day long. It’s not the same though. Being low sucks and then life throws more changes in the mix.
I was already feeling icky, then the feelings of being ungrateful made it worse. It doesn’t make sense though. Just because I have a great life, doesn’t mean I’m always going to have amazing sunshiny days. I don’t want to pour more nastiness into my already dark jumbled brain. But I felt guilty for not enjoying the extra mom-and-boys time. I felt guilty for wanting to sleep in the bed alone without Jack’s hundred and fifteen degree body next to me all night. I felt guilty for not being more appreciative of my whole life situation.
It’s a weird paradox. I don’t want anything more. I don’t want anything to change. But I’m not sitting in awe of my life this week. Other weeks I am, just not lately. Last week my skin was crawling and I couldn’t make it stop. There were good moments sure, but the cloud made it hard to find them.
Things are starting to look and feel better. Now that the clouds have started to part, I know this won’t last forever and I’ve been able to be more purposeful about appreciating my time with the boys. I’ve also been purposeful about carving out some self-care time, in the form of staying up late and getting lost in a book. I’ve even been doing some purposeful breathing and meditation. It’s all helped, but I still feel like I’m not fully back yet. This is a part of me and I’m fine with it, but still, it’s hard sometimes.
There is value in being self critical. I WAS being selfish and inward focused at times last week. When the self criticizing becomes debilitating though, that is when I have to give myself a break. When the inward focused thoughts come, I need to evaluate if they are valid. Do I really need time for myself right now? Will it make me healthier so I can be a better mom and wife? Or am I just mad that outside forces have changed my routine? Is this a time to give to others or a time to give to myself? I know I don’t need to have happy skippy days everyday. The real key to emotional health is not piling on the guilt and shame when I’m already down.
So I guess that’s the holy grail: being self critical while still being kind to yourself. If you guys ever find that secret treasure, feel free to share some of that over my way. I’d be so grateful, I promise.