There were times this past year I thought I was losing it. There we go. Blunt. To the point. Straight no chaser. And the truth.
It started earlier this year when I realized the household income was not what I thought it was. After all, it takes a lot of work to live a “the” American dream – husband, house, cars, kids, nice schools, decent standard of living. But I was wearing blinders. Once I took them off, I realized some fixes were in order. So I started working. Hard. Two jobs. Often 7 days a week. I knew within myself it was too much – activities with my sons at school or the library during the day, followed by errands, household chores, then working each evening into the wee hours of the morning. It was a grind; one I told myself I could handle. But one I knew I really couldn’t.
A couple of months into my journey to insanity, symptoms started to crop up. A pit in my stomach here, nausea and dizziness there. I shrugged it off. Guess I should slow down, I’d tell myself. Then I’d remove a few hours from one of my days of work – and went right back at it. One morning in particular I was sleep driving (ie barely awake), taking my oldest son to school, and severe dizziness started. I looked like a pirate, minus the patch, with one eye closed to finish the route. Okay, I thought. I hear you Lord. I’ll take a day off from working per week.
Yep, that’s all. One day. Still being hard-headed. Not listening to His voice nor my body.
I went to the doctor and got the dizziness to subside by taking one day off consistently. But I replaced it with more activities – you know, the never-ending to do list – to achieve more, to climb higher, to be the consummate wife, mother and career woman. After all, I could handle it. I then had guests in town back to back to back, and took it in stride.
Welp, my body had enough. I started having internal problems. The knots in my stomach never left – a mixture of nervousness and nausea that rested like a literal rock, right below my rib cage. I cried for no reason. And was always always always perpetually tired. I’m not talking normal mom-running-after-two-boys tired (and believe me, that’s already tired enough), but crazy, can hardly move tired. I broke. I’d had enough. Forget holding onto the house … the car … the bills. If I don’t make some changes soon, I won’t hold on to me.
So, finally listening to God, my hubby and my body, I made it all about me in December, with a few necessary steps:
1. I decided how much of the working was about what we needed, versus what I wanted. And trim the fat. Thus, I stripped away the second job and additional hours. Worked less, rested more.
2. I let the kids just … play. Okay I know that sounds strange. I’m the type of mom who always wants the kids doing something, never bored. So I’ll think I have to help “make” that happen. But hey, they’re kids. Let them do what they do. Play. Together. Alone. Without me.
3. I gave myself permission to not achieve every goal I had for this year. Yes, I took pressure off myself to complete the next great screenplay or produce the next wonderful script in 2013. I’d aimed high, done all that I could, and will pick it up again next year.
4. I put career projects on hold – temporarily. I turned down a few lucrative projects I really wanted to do (sorry – you know who you are and you know I wanted to do it!). Yes, it was hard as I love writing, and I love tv/film production.
These weren’t things I wanted to do. But I had to. For my health. For my life. For my sanity. And ultimately, for my family. I can’t be who I want to be for them, if I’m not taking care of me.