I think all of us have times when we feel as if we’re on a treadmill, and someone keeps turning the speed up higher and higher. Those times when there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get through even half of our “to do” list, and we fall into bed each night exhausted and already fretting about all the things we have to accomplish tomorrow. For some reason, Fall always seems to be one of those times for me, and this year is no exception.
I’m sure part of the problem is that the days are growing steadily shorter and that there is so much to do in order to get our yard ready for Winter and our house ready for the upcoming holidays. My husband and I are also spending a lot of time getting my mother’s old house ready for its new owners and dealing with all the little glitches that always arise at times like these. (It took us two months to realize that some of the utility bills for her house have gone AWOL.) Add these extras to our usual day-to-day responsibilities, and I suppose it’s no wonder we’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.
But I know all those things are just part of the problem. And the rest of the problem rests squarely on my shoulders. Because I have a long-standing and very unhealthy habit of taking on too much and hanging on to too much. My intentions are good….I want to be a supportive friend, a good neighbor, a dependable family member, and basically just the sort of person that others know they can count on for help, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Within reason, of course. But the problem is, sometimes I forget to be reasonable.
I tend to forget that there are limits to how much responsibility I can take on and still retain a sense of well-being. I seem to need constant reminders that when I try to “be there” for everyone, I usually end up satisfying no one, least of all myself. I need to learn that there’s no such thing as a perfect friend or relative, and that as long as I am doing my best, those who truly care about me will be okay with that.
I suspect that self-care and setting healthy boundaries will always be a process for me, and that’s okay. I’d rather be too generous with my time and resources than too selfish. But I also want to respect my limits, and learn to say “no” to obligations and needs that I truly can’t meet without stretching myself too thin. I need to let go of my natural inclination to rush in and try to fix things, all the time. Because let’s face it, it’s both arrogant and short-sighted of me to believe that I’m the only one who can step up when help is required.
And who knows? Maybe I’ll get to the point where next Fall is just a little bit more relaxed, and therefore more enjoyable for me and also for the people who would rather not have to deal with me when I’m stressed and crabby. That certainly strikes me as a worthy goal….