For a long time, I felt like I just didn’t have space to breathe. When my kids were younger (they’re 3 and 6 now), I felt like I just never had a moment to sit and breathe, to exhale and let everything go. I always had to be on guard. I (felt like I) couldn’t leave them alone in the morning to go get ready for work, so I had to be up at 5:30 to get ready before they woke for the day. I constantly felt like the phone would ring while I was teaching, and I’d need to scramble, cancel, reschedule, rearrange to get them when they were sick or injured. Cue the anxiety.

I realize that a lot of this stems from my perfectionist tendencies–I don’t want people to think I’m weak or untrustworthy; I don’t want to cancel things. I want my plans to go off brilliantly with me pulling all the right strings. But, it leads to this welling up in my chest, a tightening. I realize that for a long time I sought the release from that with purging; I realize now that I need to find ways to breathe before it gets to that point.

A few years ago, my husband and I talked about how I could not possibly carry on with everything on my own–I’m not really on my own, but it sure feels like that a lot of the time. My husband leaves for work before we’re awake and comes home 4 days a week after the kids are already in bed. He works 90 minutes away from home, and he’s a medical doctor, so even if he were nearby, it still would fall to me to be the emergency contact, the one to stay home with the kids for a sick day or doctor’s appointment.

My therapist keeps urging me to express resentment at this, anger. I really don’t feel that. It’s the way it is–I have at times felt put upon or frustrated, but I don’t anymore as the rule. It’s the way our family works, and that’s that. I’m grateful for a somewhat flexible job where I can pretty easily reschedule most things.

After that conversation a few years ago, we hired a family assistant/nanny to drop the kids off, clean the house, do the laundry, be the emergency contact. And, suddenly I could breathe. The kids are a little older now and are happy to watch TV while I get ready in the mornings; I can breathe again. I’m not sure that I could have gotten so far in this recovery journey until this point in time… it was necessary for me to be able to find that exhalation again. Day 34.

Published by Quitter

I’m a college professor, wife, and mother of 2 small kids. I’m on a recovery journey 20 years in the making.

One thought on “Breathe

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