I see you.
I see what you refuse to acknowledge. It shows in the puffy dark circles under your eyes and the lack of glimmer in eyes that once sparkled brighter than the stars. I notice that you don’t smile as quickly as you once did and your step is not as springy as it used to be. I also notice the hesitation in making eye contact, most likely out of fear that I will talk with you, forcing you to be polite and have a conversation with me. In the time it takes you to look my way, I see all of this.
I recognize the exhaustion and the overwhelming sense of commitment. You are running on fumes, yet you continue to take on more and more in hopes of bringing everything together. You say yes so you will not let others down. You pitch in more so others may do less. You give and give and give and at this moment, you are running on fumes.
I know, because I have been there. I worked multiple jobs, had an active social life, continued with ongoing education, attempted to fit in time to work out and tried to make time for my husband. One huge factor is missing, do you know what it was?
I didn’t make time for me! I didn’t fill my cup because I was too busy filling everyone else’s.
The truth is, I didn’t focus on myself. My cup was empty. I felt guilty if I took an hour to get my nails done. I felt guilty getting a massage. I felt guilty if I told someone no, I couldn’t attend their event. I felt guilty being away from home. My metaphorical cup was on fumes and was way past empty, I couldn’t even energize from the sporadic fumes. When I stopped moving, I was utterly exhausted and I would crash hard. My emotions ran the gamut from being elated and passionate to being pissed off and full of resentment. The smallest occurrence that deviated out of my control could throw me into a fit of rage. Well, when you are as tenuous as I used to be, that “minor” event was enough to bring out the fricken beast in me.
I didn’t even like being with myself, I was so unpredictable. For me, anger surfaces when I feel overwhelmed. Anger is the easiest feeling for me to identify and work through and it has always been a great defense mechanism for me. Looking back, it would have been easier to tell someone no, but that would also open the door for me to disappoint or anger them.
What made me change my priorities?
I became a mother. Becoming a mom forced me to tell others no, as my priorities needed to be at home. Conversely, that means I need to take care of myself and fill my cup with what makes me happy. When mama isn’t happy, no one in the house is happy. Like it or not, I am the one who sets the tone for the day and teaches my boys that they have the power to choose their attitudes. I need to take the time to refill my energies, my passions, and lead by example.
If you pay attention when you are around children, you will begin to learn again through their eyes. You will see the wonder in the world and allow your imagination to wander while exploring the dark places of your past that you haven’t visited in decades. When you are around children, you remember what it is like to ask for what you need and to automatically tune into those needs.
Hungry? Get a snack.
Tired? Take a nap.
Energized? Bounce off the walls (lol, I have boys).
Feeling creative? Draw a picture.
See something beautiful? Share it with others.
Children experience sheer joy at the things adults take for granted every day. As we grow older, we lose site of that ability and often take for granted the healing and restorative impact of the world around us. If a child doesn’t want to go to a friends house to play, they simply say no. If a child doesn’t want to play a specific game with their friends, they talk through it until they compromise. Children freely reach for hugs and openly show affection without fear of rejection.
Fill your cup
Fill your cup, my friend. Don’t allow yourself to get so overwhelmed that you or your glass shatters into a million pieces, making it so much more difficult to refuel. Go for coffee with a friend, take in a movie, ask for date night, get your nails done, read that book. I am giving you permission to say NO to more demands and to let go of any guilt in doing so. You can’t do it all, nor should you. Go out and fill your cup!