when enough needs to be enough.

I hate crying. I’m really not much of a cryer. But when I do cry, it’s usually something stupid. Like today.

Today I cried (it was more like sobbing, actually) for half an hour because I misplaced a vacuum part, and I looked everywhere for it. Still can’t find it, but I think I’ve stopped crying.

I tell myself that if the house is clean, if my tummy is tight, if my arms stay toned enough, if I’m thin enough, if there is a place for everything and everything is in its place, if I can control my anxiety and my chronic pain, if I’m the best at my job, if I accomplish all of my goals, if I always give 110%, then the world will make sense.

But that’s not true, and giving 110% all of the time is impossible, and a clean house is just a clean house, and anxiety is not always in my control, and sometimes I still wake up with the words, It’s not enough, even amidst sparkling clean bathroom floors, grime-free counters, and the fresh smell of clean laundry.

I can’t tell you why I have this problem–this need to be perfect. All I can say is that I can stand up under the pressure I put on myself most days, but some mornings, I wake up and just know it’s going to be one of those days. I do my best to whisper truth to myself: I’m not made to be perfect. Being perfect is not what life is about. I am loved. I am worth something. I am enough.

But I don’t believe it sometimes, and those sometimes really get me down. I hate myself in those sometimes because I can get mean. I’m angry. I’m tired. I cry and I yell and I’m vulnerable and foolish.

It all started with a night full of restlessness and nightmares. I never have nightmares, but I guess my 4-day “Criminal Minds” marathon got the best of me, and Nick has been working late a lot, so of course, once I woke up, I couldn’t go back to sleep because I didn’t want to have another nightmare. I can’t even remember what it was about.

Fall break was supposed to be a respite, but all this free time to think and be alone has left me a bit down in the dumps.

It’s not like I’ve sat on my ass all break. But all I hear in my head is that I’m lazy. I’m weak. I’m incapable. I’m gaining weight. I’m not enough.

Something inside me knows that’s not true. But I can’t help but feel it in my bones–this ache that everything I want to achieve is out of reach because I’m not enough.

What gets at me is that yesterday, I was fine. I felt good.

And I wake up this morning, and I spend most of it panicking and crying and sobbing and feeling… well, feeling shitty, and everywhere I turn, I see subtle reminders of where I’m not measuring up to my own standard of perfection. I’m not teaching, I’m not getting my Master’s, I’m not writing enough, I’m losing muscle tone and strength, I’m anxious, I’m not published, our yard is a hot mess…

It’s crazy. It’s not healthy. I know. I’m doing my best to shake it off.

But I am flared up and in pain. I’m exhausted even though I’ve been sleeping more than usual all week. I cleaned so much this week only to find more mess to clean up, to remember how our backyard is a hot mess of leaves, weeds, dead plants, and dog poop. My tummy is sticking out a little bit more than it was a month ago because the damned concussion I got a few weeks ago has kept me from working out.

I’ve taken the month off. Of everything. Of volunteering with the youth group. Of singing on the worship team. I’m not going to Bible studies. I’m trying to limit social outings, too, because of the concussion, yes, and the flare-up of pain, yes. And I just need time. And the time was supposed to bring me solace and health and energy and confidence. And yet, here I am. Worrying about how I’ll handle it when life starts back up again.

Because I know getting back into the swing of things–working out, working, keeping up with the house, paying bills, taking care of the dog and the cat, jumping back into a social life–is going to be hard, and I just don’t know if I’m up for it. If I can take it.

If I’m enough.

I’ve been told that in the moments when you’re feeling you’re not enough, you should do something mindless like the dishes or alphabetize your DVDs.

So I vacuumed. I found a way to get the vacuum to work without the missing part, which is good because there was cat hair and cat food and dog hair and dirt everywhere. And I switched out the laundry. I showered, hoping the warm water would wash away the not enoughs along with the smeared mascara under my eyes. Maybe I should alphabetize my DVDs now.

The not enoughs are still there so maybe it’s time to walk the dog, do some yoga and hope that my muscles will loosen up and my heart will open up to let in some truth.

Because the house is clean, so at least there’s that, which means I can do yoga on the carpet without breathing in lethal amounts of pet dander. And yes, I’m tired and in pain, but I’m alive, and I’m going to get through this spell because I am enough even though I don’t believe it.

UGH.

At least I’ve stopped crying about that damned vacuum part.

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five minute friday | care

[start]

It’s easier not to care sometimes.

I do this thing when I’m under a lot of stress. When I’m worried or concerned. When I’m sad or grieving.

I stop caring.

It’s not healthy. It’s not loving, it’s not compassionate, it’s not sympathetic. It’s not grace or mercy, it’s not love, it’s not reality or the gospel, it’s not what Jesus had in mind for me and my life. But it’s how I get through without having to feel sadness. I don’t do sadness well.

The surge of emotions that take me over when I’m faced with a stressor–a new job full of new people and new expectations, two sick parents living in immense pain, an extended family that is unsteady at best and hurtful at the worst, guilt about my own shortcomings and past selfishness, panic and anxiety–I do not handle well. Even though I have been equipped and taught how to handle stress and grief in healthy ways by therapists, mentors, doctors, my parents, I still find myself resorting to old faithful: I just find a way to stop caring.

I pretend I’m fine so I can just get through the day.
I push all of the difficult thoughts away in order to get through the day.
I stop thinking about what is making me sad so I don’t cry at work.
I change the subject when I’m with friends because I don’t want to be that person.

It’s just easier not to care, y’know? I don’t monopolize conversation or make my problems someone else’s problems. I don’t cry in front of people. I don’t break down at work or shirk chores around the house. I go into survival mode.

I’ll think about all this hard stuff later. I’ll care later. Right now, I just gotta get this and this and this done.

Thing is, I get home, or I finish my project, or I finish up chores around the house, and instead of actually addressing the issue–instead of choosing to care and choosing to process my emotions–I find a way to ignore them some more. I jump on Facebook and mindlessly scroll. I think about football or how much I hated the “How I Met Your Mother” season ending or I binge watch “Doctor Who” and “Criminal Minds” until my eyes hurt.

Before I know it, two weeks, a month, six months, a year has passed, and I’m still carrying the same baggage and just choosing not to deal with it, to open it up, unpack it. I still choose not to care.

Because it’s easier not to care–until you’re a year into the grieving process, or a year into dealing with some life-changing revelation, or a year into facing your anxiety problem or your low self-esteem or your fear of intimacy or your financial crisis or your estranged friendship, and you realize it would have been a whole lot easier if you had chosen to care from the get-go.

[stop]


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