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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Getting A Grip

Having somewhat recovered from a nasty bout of hormonal depression, I sit at the computer with a moderate desire to write. This is a welcome improvement.

Some of the topics I’ve been wanting to comment on lately, but haven’t had the time or energy to address, include:

-Hormonal depression
-Jack in second-grade
-Holiday blues and stress
-The melting snow
-Our Bissell dying
-Children playing musical bedrooms
-The new Harry Potter movie

Though my calendar has been relatively light the past couple of weeks, I find that even the minor-est of tasks can put me in a tailspin of stress. For example: ARC of Anchorage came by today to pick up “gently used household items” for donation. The items had to be on the curbside by 8:30am and clearly marked “ARC”. The things I was donating were already bagged and boxed. All I had to do was write “ARC” and carry them to the end of the driveway. So why was I awake from 6:15am until 7:15am agonizing from under my down comforter about whether or not I’d be able to pull it off?

Also, this morning I needed to send a bag of candy to school with Sabrina; her contribution to the class project of making gingerbread houses. I hadn’t bought anything from the store, and so was wracking my brain trying to think of what I could send.

It’s funny what tasks almost paralyze me. Even cooking dinner lately has seemed an overwhelming chore.

Things I’ve been needing to do and have either given up on or am continuing to delay:

-Taking Juneau to the vet for her annual physical exam
-Cutting everyone’s hair (including Seamus’)
-Acquiring boxes for the Christmas gifts I sending out-of-state
-Shipping the out-of-state gifts
-Figuring out what holiday school-events I’m required to attend in the kids’ respective classes
-Buying gifts for the two kid birthday parties occurring this Saturday
-Preparing for our next meeting of M.I.L.K.

Perhaps I shouldn’t beat myself up so much. I have been doing SOME stuff. I finished Christmas shopping and have wrapped everything so far. I’ve kept up with the laundry. And the dishes. I return most of my phone calls. Last week I did a bunch of cold-calling for work. We started up Care Group again so we have a gang over every Sunday night for a couple hours. I’ve done a little reading. I help the kids with homework. I talk to Bruce. I’ve cleaned bathrooms and even mopped the kitchen.

So I guess I’m not a total chump.

I think part of my problem – and I’ve alluded to this before – is that I’m kind of striding two different parenting-worlds: that of somewhat-autonomous school-age kids and that of preschoolers/toddlers. When Jack and Sabrina were Ellie and Evan’s age, I didn’t do ANYTHING. What makes me think I can do so much more with four kids? I need to cut myself some slack.

I am so sick of thinking about all this stuff all the time. Why do I do it? Why can’t I just shut off my brain and la-de-da my way through life?

I had a conversation with my friend Jeff, who is also my pastor, the other day. We covered a lot of ground, but one of the things we discussed caused me great deal of further contemplation. Jeff had asked me where I got the idea I have to be perfect all the time. At the time, I was stumped. I honestly answered that I didn’t know. Later, though, I realized I AM able to answer that question. I try to be perfect, I try to control my emotions and my environment because for so long I didn’t bother with anything. The truth is, for many, many, many years I was lazy, unmotivated, emotional, and, yes Jeff, indolent. I B.S.’d my way through life. I tried to manipulate people with emotions and tried to get by with the minimum amount of effort and commitment.

Now, I am so ashamed of having once been this way that I try to avoid it altogether. I am afraid that if I acknowledge my weaknesses to the truly extraordinary people that I am privileged to call my friends, they will not want me anymore. I want to “add value” to my relationships with others by participating in events and having people over. So I become performance-oriented, walking the tightrope and hoping that I can keep my balance so that I’m not exposed as a fraud and they will keep loving me.

Now, these motivations are sincere and genuine. I sincerely and genuinely don’t want to “bother” other people with my paltry problems. I want them to enjoy their time with me and remember it with joy rather than regret. I do not want my friends to dread every conversation with me, but to look forward to my company.

I have been blessed with a great deal materially, the most significant blessing being love of family and friends. I recognize that there are a great many people in the world who have REAL problems like disease, poverty, abuse and oppression. Why absorb the energies of my friends and family when there are others whose needs are so much greater? It would be like accepting a monetary gift from my church because I overextended my VISA by buying Ipods for the whole family.

I find myself short-tempered with the problems of others. Most everyone I know who struggles in life is very good at sucking it up and plodding forward. This seems an admirable trait. I want to be like this. Those few people I know who go on and on about their stupid “issues” irritate me after awhile. I want to slap them and tell them to “buck up” and “that’s life, get over it.” Isn’t that harsh? But it’s what I expect from myself. And I’m not convinced that I’m wrong. I recognize I may not able to fix myself all by myself, but that is where my faith comes in. I believe that God can help me address my “issues” better than another person, and that He will – He always has in the past.

Let me not squander the compassion of the dear people whose tender hearts compel them to come to the aid of others. My life is good. It is GREAT – if I am going to wrestle, let me do it with a minimum of outside intervention. I don’t want to be what I despise (but isn’t that often the case?).

Okay. So that’s my brain fart. I’m sure Jeff will find all kinds of holes in my argument and we’ll have a very interesting follow up discussion (hopefully on the kitchen floor – inside joke). That’s fine. Bring it on. I’m all for self-improvement and self-actualization and healing. But ultimately, I want to get away from taking myself so seriously. I want to quit thinking about memememe all the live-long day. It’s boring, it’s endless, it’s repetitive.

So why do I keep doing it?

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