Sophie changed schools – a big deal for a 13-year-old;
I was told after less than a week in my dream home that it would be put on the market and I would need to move out;
A friend was hospitalised after an alcoholic binge – and I was the only person close enough to help;
I was attacked by a stray cat in my garden and ended up on a drip with an infected bite wound.
You know that feeling when you can’t possibly take on one more thing? When you’re on the edge of breakdown but you push ahead anyway because people depend on you and expect you to have it all together, all the time?
I had that feeling this week.
In a few days:
You can’t make this shit up.
And then, load shedding.
I got to the point where I was so numb that I couldn’t even cry, although I desperately wanted to. Like a flipped switch, I went from being over the moon, to down in the deepest, darkest dumps and I didn’t know which way was out.
But then I got the best advice – do only as much as you need to.
What does this mean? It doesn’tmean crippling yourself emotionally and physically looking after somebody else. That’s codependency, and I’ve been in that trap before. Not again, thank you very much.
It means setting boundaries and preserving your strength for what really matters – being strong emotionally and physically, and being kind to yourself.
It comes down to picking your battles. Because, when you’re not strong for yourself, how can you expect to be a support for anyone else? When you try to be everything to everyone, nobody wins. You just end up feeding the unhealthy relationship.
It’s taken months – no, YEARS – to get to the point where I learned how to be kind to myself. It’s one thing understanding this intellectually, but actually practising it, takes times and it’s a lifelong learning experience. But this was placed in jeopardy in just one week, when my focus was pulled in a thousand different directions and I started putting other people’s needs ahead of my own. I was slipping back into a codependent relationship and that scared the crap out of me. I promised myself that I would never be in that situation again and yet I was so close to breaking my promise to myself.
And so, with this advice fresh in my mind, I did only as much as I needed to do. And you know what? Everyone survived. Even though I was still exhausted.
Society expects so much of us. We’re expected to keep if together while everything around us is falling apart. We feel pressured into pushing through, taking on more responsibility, and offering help, even when we know our energy is completely depleted and we’re running on fumes. We don’t allow ourselves to rest; we feel guilty for napping during the day. And so, to cope, we develop behaviour mechanisms, like alcohol or food dependency, psychological issues, stress illnesses. Who does that help? No one.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I see it time and again in my Health & Wellness Coaching clients. We’re all trying to hold it together but we’re all so goddamn exhausted that we’re teetering on the edge of sanity. Just one gentle nudge and it’s straight to the loony bin for the lot of us!
My advice this week is this: face whatever it is you’re facing head on. Then decide what’s the absolute minimum you need to do to prevent disaster – and do only that. Tomorrow is another day. Next week is another week. You can do more then. But for now, do what you need to and use the rest of your energy to recharge, recuperate, and relax. The only good thing about load shedding is 8pmbedtime – embrace it while you can!
Want to chat some more? Book a free session and let’s start the journey to a new you.