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.