“If I feel this way, others must experience similar feelings.”
I have this unconfirmed-by-facts sense of familiarity with the world around me. It has been a launching pad for courage: “If not me, then who?” I feel nervous or afraid, but the truth needs to be spoken or the action be taken, and I step up despite my discomfort. This belief has served me well over time.
But during this very exhausting season, I would weigh my circumstances, the facts, and they didn’t add up to how I felt. I mean, my husband is involved, my kids are pretty adaptable, communicative, empathetic… so why do I feel that I am scraping the bottom of my barrel of energy. Only gunk is left.
This winter I started feeling increasingly irritable, angry. Then I put a cap on that. I addressed it head on. But the pressure cracked elsewhere. I started feeling numb. I started to withdraw emotionally in order to survive and to serve the best I could. I’d still take good care of my family, and didn’t feel too irritated, but I started to feel joyless. I could vividly remember enjoying being a mom, dancing in the evening with my girls, reading, doing crafts, cooking with them. Slowly, their requests and needs felt more and more burdensome. I just couldn’t have fun with them anymore. I didn’t have time for myself, to think, to do things that I enjoy, so my cup was empty. I had no joy to give. The confusion and guilt this caused in me is hard to explain. I didn’t quite have words to put to it. I have disregarded my own needs for a bit of space and time to myself, day after day till on the bottom of my barrel all there was left was dry dust. Not even stinky mush. There was nothing.
I got pretty tired mentally by all the zoom classes, first Jackie’s, then mine.
I have only two weekly online meetings left. I committed to them and I’ll stick to it till they conclude. As grace would have it, last week the adoptive mom of my small group leader shared her story with a twist on smart care. It was enlightening. Then I read this resource and I realized I have been in blocked care myself.
I disliked the powerlessness or lack of control over my own emotions. Even if I have a relatively good, connected day, one day, the next day was up in the air. I didn’t have the energy to guide the mood. We were left to chance and to the mercy of my kid’s moods.
It dawned on me that maybe not all mothers feel this way. I thought people just had it better under control or pretended better to enjoy their family full time. Being together 24/7 is absolutely exhausting. I just realized that I may be struggling with these feelings of irritation and depletion while other adoptive moms are thriving. It actually gives me hope to know that the world at large is not falling apart. Only my world is shaking.
I need help. And there are people around us who can and would help on a regular basis in small doses, as I need to replenish physically, mentally / intellectually, socially, spiritually, emotionally…
My biggest fear this season was causing further trauma to my kids by withdrawing from them, in order to replenish. As we are always together, and I’m their reservoir of everything, their gravitation towards me is non stop. I wrote this poem on a hail riddled Friday morning.
The Tension of atTention inTention
Double the need
Double the demand
In our small quarters
Always in sight
Always within reach
Our distracted minds
to feel the safety of togetherness
They call out
Just to check in
Just to see their play
Just to look at them.
Depleted attention span
Our own needs ignored.
Not paying attention.
Not practicing compassionate curiosity.
Resting in the pit.
Waiting for dawn.
With every intention to make it
I hope we’ll survive.