Dearest loved ones,
Yesterday I took a day off of work to recover from a non-serious malady that certainly didn’t need to keep me from sitting at a desk and typing. It was probably more of a mental health day than an immune system health day, but regardless, instead of being at my desk I found myself at Trader Joe’s looking at the selection of hummus. As I decided on roasted garlic and red pepper and placed it in my cart, a fellow shopper told me to get the edamame hummus. He stood there waiting for me to add it to my cart until I complied. It was his favorite, you see. So for fear of disappointing this stranger, I bought an extra hummus I didn’t want or need.
I do this thing to myself where I say “yes” until I can’t anymore and my soul shuts down. Can you stay at work late to make sure this sensitive material gets sent out? I’m really stressed, do you have time to talk? Will you come to X, X, X, and X this weekend? It should be really fun!
This past weekend, the only time I had alone was when I was in the shower. Thanks to work politics I’ve been at the end of my stress rope for a few weeks, but instead of carving out time to myself to get a handle on things, I committed myself to just about everyone in geographical proximity. It’s not that I don’t like people. People are great. Especially the people I love. But people don’t relax me, they exhaust me. Which isn’t to say that on most occasions the exhaustion isn’t worth the effort! But while being “on” and charismatic and cheerful and pleasant isn’t unnatural, it isn’t easy to maintain for that long either. And at 11:00pm on Sunday night, after a weekend filled with pleasing people to whom I felt irrationally obligated, I shut down. I couldn’t keep it up anymore. And I felt certain that if the people breathing the oxygen in my car didn’t &%$#*% stop talking I would have an aneurism.
It isn’t a new pattern. In college I would get so bogged down in jobs, clubs, family drama, that I would have to take a day off of classes just to do my work for those classes. I overextend myself until I need to turn off and restart. I feel so badly telling someone “no” that I can’t manage to have any sort of balance in my life.
Is it “can’t”? No. It’s “won’t”. I won’t have balance in my life. As much as I complain and as much as I know it’s an unhealthy way to live, there is a part of me that worries if I’m not the giving friend who will always answer her phone and always be there when you’re having a tough time and always bounce around to seven different social gatherings just so I don’t have to turn anyone down, then what is it about me that’s remarkable? My defining characteristic is being a caring sister, friend, daughter, etc. who will drop everything to pick up whoever is down. And if I say “I’m sorry, I really can’t tonight,” is there anything worthwhile about me? Will I have any reasons to be loved? And is that THE WORST reason to be a giving friend in the history of everything?
This one’s on me. I need to figure out my own boundaries and limits. I don’t want you to stop coming to me when you need a friend because I always want to be that friend. I just can’t promise to be that friend 24/7.
On the bright side, the edamame hummus was actually really tasty. How are you? Are you ok?