One night I was sitting on the floor near my son as he rolled around chewing on a book, and I realized the rest of my family was laughing and having fun at the kitchen table. It was the odd moment where my life sort of flashed by, and I realized I always was the one to step back to “do the right thing” so others could enjoy themselves. I was the one who left early to get a child to bed. Or the one who ran to the store to pick up that thing. I was the one who made all the meals and cleaned most of them, unable to play or participate because I was “too busy” and “needed” to finish. But, nobody made me. I did it to myself.
There are days when I am on cruise control. There is a schedule, and it’s my “job” to make sure the children accomplish all of these tasks – many of which I scheduled myself. But it’s also my “job” to keep the house clean, the animals fed and clean, the house stocked with food, prepare said food, and the reality is so much more thanks to our family being home all the time for the last nine months now…
Of course, my family sees this differently. My daughter thinks I genuinely enjoy cleaning. For some reason, she thinks I enjoy spending hours a week sorting, folding, and putting away laundry. Now, I will say that cleaning is a defense mechanism in ways. When I get overwhelmed, I can clean because I don’t want the clutter. I want order in something.
But there I was, hearing the laughter and not longing to be a part of it at all. Yearning for the end of my day so I could be alone. Longing for the feeling of wanting to want to be genuinely present.
That night I couldn’t relax. I was so upset by this realization, unable to turn my brain off enough to get the sleep I desperately need to keep up with it all. Paralyzed by the question, how do I “de-program” myself to enjoy my life, is this now my reality? The next morning, with the previous night’s realization still fresh, I tried to explain my feelings, which I even don’t truly understand myself. To my sadness, I was met with frustration and anger.
I get it, though. I mean we are all tired and frustrated. It’s a long road we are on here. Raising children, living through a pandemic, and living versions of the lives we had hoped for, but not the life we wanted. After all, we are the lucky ones who still have an income, a roof over our heads, and our health.
There are days, I type on my computer, and it is the only escape I have pasted these four walls. It is a way to try to reach out. But within these four walls are my family, who want my attention, which I lack the energy or desire most days to give. It is heartbreaking for me to recognize my children, husband, even the dog, want a piece of me, yet I don’t have the focus or desire to give them that entirely.
If a friend of mine told me how they felt like this, I would feel horrible for them. I would want them to be happy and ask them, “what brings you joy?!” So I asked myself, to which I replied…I don’t know anymore. Maybe I can’t be happy? Am I broken?!
I look at the photos, and I see my smiles. I look so happy. I seem so excited as the tone of my voice changes when I am near my children. Yet, I feel as though I am carrying an extra 100 pounds. I feel so weighed down.
Realizing I am present but not really there for my family, I ponder why that is and how to feel alive again. The holidays are bringing this to a whole new level. I want to genuinely enjoy the time, the memories, the hugs. Sometimes I almost feel like I do…