Today, I am giving myself permission to acknowledge yesterday. I am giving myself permission to say that I feel overwhelmed and sometimes it is too much.
Saying this out loud in itself feels overwhelming. Actively broadcasting feeling overwhelmed means that I don’t have it all together. It feels like an admission to weakness and feeling incapable of handling all the things with command and poise. It sweeps the I-don’t–know-how-she-does-it-all wonderment from right under my legs. This is not who I am–Overwhelmed. I scoff it off. Bury it deeper. Just keep powering forward.
I am juggling it all, with grace, with an eloquent efficiency, and without flinching–not one bit. I can take care of my family, manage my Joanne Gaines curated home, invest in my friendships, be career-driven, and give back to my community, and bear the unexpected without the blink of an eye. These are the delusions I crowd my mind with to push out any doubt.
Overwhelming shouldn’t have a seat at my table.
Last night was one of those nights. I had to stare Overwhelming in the eye. My day began unexpectedly–as I have come to timidly expect these days–with my son waking up with a fever. My husband swamped with work. My girls moving around slowly and forgetfully as if this “getting ready for school” thing was a new wonderment they have never ever, ever experienced. My day, derailed as I preoccupied myself with caring for my sick child, picking up meds, cough drops, disposable masks, soup, crackers and all other things to tend to my son’s cough, sore throat, fatigue, and body aches.
I can see now what I was doing. I was trying to stuff my feelings of having to leave for the night and not be there for my son by over preparing. By overcompensating.
By the time I thought about dinner, my girls were off the bus and barging through the door, wet snow splattering into our front entrance as they dropped their bookbags, kicked off their snow pants and boots and started rummaging the pantry for snacks. One daughter to get ready for dance, the other for hockey, and Mom can you register for the school fundraiser right now and what are we eating for dinner and should I bring a snack or are you packing me a dinner and where is my water bottle? I fought with myself whether I could insert a nap before my overnight shift. I felt as if all the pieces were all tipping on the edge of a wobbly waitress tray. The slightest trip and it would all come tumbling down.
I felt dramatic. I wanted to stop. I wanted to not leave for work. I wanted to be by my son’s side. I wanted to sit on my couch. I wanted to cry. I wanted my daughters to be able to find their water bottles by themselves and remember to have everything they needed for hockey and dance without me scrambling to find the odds and ends. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be calm and in control. I wanted to not raise my voice or sound exasperated. I wanted to handle all the things and not have these emotions. I just wanted to all together give up on tonight. Maybe tomorrow would be better. But there was still so much to push through. I hated how this was all making me feel. Overwhelming, please get up and leave.
Maybe it wasn’t even the events of today that was making me feel so taxed. Maybe it was the culmination of tiny stressors day in and day out. Absorbing each small event and inadvertantly depleting my reserve until there was barely anything to pull from. The reserve is empty. The Overwhelming is sidling loudly and disruptively into its place.
As the queen of compartmentalizing, feeling these emotions bubble over felt irritating and I judged myself for being so dramatic. Emotions are consuming, and there is not time for more consuming things.
So, I tell myself to breathe. One task at a time. One thing at a time. It is not the end of any world. It’s just Overwhelming here to sit alongside you. Shake its hand. Say hi. You can work through this. You will always get to the other side.