Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dancing on the line

Pin It There's a line between wearing a mask and being too honest. I find myself on that line a lot. This post will probably put me far on the too honest side, just so you're warned in advance. I've had several posts that have been too heavy on the mask side, so I guess it all evens out.

When someone asks you "how are you doing?" how do you answer them? Is it "oh, let me put my happy mask in place and say that everything is fine" or do they REALLY want to know? What if the real answer involves tears and stress? Because, if you were to ask me right now how I'm doing, and if I were to be honest with you, it would involve tears and stress.

I thought this would get easier. It's been three months, and I'm no less overwhelmed than I was. Maybe even more so because we started school last week. (And actually, other than the first day, school has gone very well.) The stuff is all getting done just fine. You could drop in unannounced and I wouldn't be mortified that my house was a mess. The laundry is getting done, sheets are getting washed, floors (which I totally hate) are getting swept or vacuumed. The kids' rooms are clean and have been that way for a while now. We've given away a lot of the clutter and are still working to get rid of more. We eat regular meals and get all of the dishes done. We even observed earlier this week that we hadn't gone out to eat (other than a free meal at chick fil a) in several weeks, including fast food. (We promptly went to chick fil a again to celebrate.)

All that is great, however, I am a mess. I feel like I walk around in a fog all the time. I'm exhausted constantly, and I'm still really not sleeping. Brendan still gets up early and the girls still go to bed late. I did sit down with them yesterday and told them how badly I need for them to go to bed when I tell them to; that they're too old for the arguing and constant up and down at bedtime. Last night did go a little better, so maybe there's some hope there. Last night though, I know they were both asleep by about 10:30 and it was still almost 1:00 before I got to sleep. I crave the quiet, and wait until then to do my Bible study, or read, or watch TV. Then I end up with an hour or so of tossing and turning and wishing to be asleep, but am wide awake. If I could get them to go to bed a little bit earlier, I think I could get to bed a little bit earlier. I hope to be able to find out!

It's more than just being tired though. I'm wondering if I'm dealing with some depression. I really don't know, it's more like a constant state of being overwhelmed. Looking right now I see the dog needs food in her dish. The thought of getting up, walking the five steps to her food and filling her bowl is too much. The thought of calling a kid to do it and a) being ignored, b) having them fight over who is going to do it, or c) having the dog jump on whoever is trying to feed her is equally overwhelming. I don't really know how to get past this. Well - with the dog I do; I know that if she's not fed in the next few minutes, she will start barking incessantly, and I'd rather skydive than listen to her bark incessantly, so when I get up to get dinner out of the oven I'll feed her. I just don't know how to get past the overwhelmed feeling.

And I'm not sending this out hoping that the collective you that reads it will offer to help. You all have, and continue to do so, and I love you for it. I get plenty of breaks, so it's not like I'm really even in need of a break. What I need help with is learning how to get past the feeling of constant overwhelmedness. I don't think that's something that someone can do for me, although I would request prayer that I would learn to deal with it without bringing out my mean face too frequently. Maybe it's just a season that I need to accept and live in this state for the next seven months. I really don't know.

Okay ... so I think this post completely obliterated that line. Sorry to share so openly. Maybe one of you have the solution to the constant state of being overwhelmed. Or maybe this will help someone someday who might feel the same way. Or maybe it will just be something interesting for me to look back on one day when I'm NOT in this place anymore. It is what it is though, I'm hitting post.


Meri said...

Mel, I wish wish wish I could come down there and just hug you.


gina m said...

First of all, I love you. Secondly, I'm praying for you. Thirdly, I know where you are: I've been there.

The fact that you are being open about being overwhelmed is a good thing. You asked about what the answer is when people ask. Mine was usually, "By the grace of God, we're hangin' in," with a smile (if I could muster it). But for those times when you just can't answer that way, the answer is "I'm a bit overwhelmed right now. Pray for me?" That allows you to be honest without dumping all over someone, and it lets people who care about you know that YES, you do need daily prayer.

I look back on our time apart, and I realize that all that overwhelming emotion was a time when I was trying to do it all and God was telling me, "Hey, you! (knocking on my forehead) Rely on ME. I hold YOU up with my strong right arm, and MY strength is complete when you're weak."

I know you know that. I know you trust God and that you are actively seeking contentment. Just don't forget to let God be God, okay? You're not required to be superwoman while Jim is gone. You will have good days and bad days.

Talk to your doctor about the sleep thing. That's a HUGE issue in the way you're feeling. Rest is incredibly vital, especially when you're single parenting. If your mind isn't letting you rest, then you need to get some help. (I'll bring my sledgehammer if you think it'll work! ;-P )

Again, I love you. Hang in there, sister. YOU CAN DO THIS.

Becca said...

Melanie, I have been there too. It was under different circumstances, but it is a terrible feeling. I agree about talking to your doctor. You need sleep! One thing I have (tried) to do since school started back is institute a quiet time during the day. From 1:00 - 3:00 on days I say, everyone goes to their room and doesn't come out until I say. I can read my bible, look at the computer, talk on the phone, or just be quiet. But it is my time without getting "can I have???". I am not trying to give you a trite solution to a big problem, just a little break. I am praying for you.

Becky said...

Hugs to you, sweet friend. You know I've been there. And I know it's a struggle. And nothing anyone is going to say is going to make it easier on you. But can I tell you what I was thinking as I read? I was wondering if you've totally crossed that "too honest" line with yourself and with God.

This is going to sound unspiritual to some, but so be it. When I was struggling, I found I was still holding on to "finding coping strategies" or "bearing the weight in faith and study." Those are great things. But it left out the intimacy equation with God and kept me wearing masks for myself (responsibility, maturity, the strong one...) that became so heavy and overwhelming. Y'know when I started to be less overwhelmed and more ABLE (I'd been willing, but able was another story) to let God uphold me? When I lost it with Him. When I screamed and cried and "why me'd" and "I can't do this" and "I don't wanna'd" and "I'm just so tired" and "I don't even have words, but I'm so angry/tired/upset/tired/worried/tired/confused/tired..did I mention tired?" and exhausted all of that honest stuff that I wouldn't admit was there. Then He was able to snuggle me up on His lap, smooth my hair, dry my tears, and whisper "I know, sweetie" in my ear.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't advocate letting it all out in front of the kiddos, and there is great help and comfort in the hands of friends and the quiet of Scripture. But there's also a Daddy who wants to love on His little girl and carry her through the rough spots and if she's busy putting on her "Big Girl" act, His hands are tied to do that.

Sarah said...

((hugs)) you should most definitely be able to speak openly and honestly. it's healthy and i hope it helps. i so admire your strength!

gina m said...

I totally agree with Becky. God is big enough and strong enough to handle me, even when I am mad at Him or throwing a wall-eyed fit. Besides, He already knows what I'm feeling - I might as well 'fess up!

Love ya, girl.

meltedlikewaxps97_5 said...

No words of "help". You do NOT need that from me. Just...I understand...and I am praying for God to help you become relieved of your burden of overwhelmedness. And I will confirm your last will look back on this time and wonder exactly HOW God brought you through it...and you will have MUCH wisdom and understanding for someone else's God's glory.