Running on Fumes – On Being a Woman and Caring for Myself

I didn’t even realize it was happening.  I usually don’t.  It happens every so often when I’m not being diligent.  When I’m less patient with my kids and husband.  When I’m prickly overall.  When I’m eating worse than usual. And I never really eat all that well to begin with.  But this is worse.

I was running on fumes. Empty.  Depleted.  Worn the heck out.

As evidenced by that tweet, I was barely holding it together.

It was meant to be funny, of course, but then it got me thinking.  Why do I have holes in my tights?  Why am I coloring in my shoes?  I have an Amazon gift card that I could use to buy some new work shoes but I don’t because WHAT ABOUT THE BABIES.  Everything is for the babies now. You go from 0 kids to 2 kids and your priorities change in every way.  Even though we both have good full time jobs, we still struggle with money.  So I think of them first and make sure their needs are met and then if I can swing it, I think of myself.  It’s not martyrdom, it’s parenting.  I had 40 years of life being all me all the time.  Now it’s them.

There’s a difference between being tired (that first year with baby twins OOOOOF) and running on fumes.  Tired is just bone tired, need to physically sleep and rest and not being able to.  Running on fumes is being depleted.  Mentally, physically, spiritually.  You got nothing.

As a mom/wife/full-time employee/writer and woman in general, it is exhausting out  here – can I get an AMEN!  But you know how we women do.  We just keep. on. doing.

We need to encourage more pausing.  More encouraging.  More YOU ARE DOING A REALLY GOOD JOB-ing.  More let’s just slow down and be-ing.  Instead of do more, be more, take on more.  I see you.

There is this thing that if I ever complain or say anything negative about my day or life or situation that I’m not grateful.  And that’s straight up garbage. I can be grateful and complain at the same time.  WHAT?  It’s true.  I promise.  We are capable of feeling all the feelings at once.  My life is awesome today.  No exaggeration.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t get to feel overwhelmed or exhausted or melancholy.  That’s how I’m wired and that’s ok.  We need to grant each other the grace to feel all the feelings.

As a woman, I carry too much without ever thinking it’s too much until I see a crack. I’m trying to avert the damn breaking. I’m trying to say I need a break. I cannot keep going at this pace.  IT IS UP TO ME TO SAY PAUSE.

And it’s not anybody’s responsibility but mine.  Nobody should be expected to read my mind, even thought that would make life a hell of a lot easier, wouldn’t it?

I don’t like to ask for help (ENORMOUS SHOCK) and life is full of needing to ask for help.  But then resentment can creep in because WHY DON’T PEOPLE JUST KNOW WHEN I NEED SOME GRACE DAMMIT.  That’s a dangerous place for me to be. As an alcoholic and depressive, it’s just not good for me to leave my self care unattended.

This isn’t something that comes easily to most women.  The women I admire most and look to for clues of how to live a joyful, fulfilling life have had to get vulnerable and work really hard to get to a place of good, solid self care.  It doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen perfectly.  My go to state is to HANDLE EVERYTHING.  And that’s just not healthy and not the image I want to project to my kids.

It’s easier in a way to ask for help when all hell has broken loose.  It’s the day to day adding up of negativity in my head that can lead me to dark places. And then that will lead to all hell breaking loose and THAT is what I need to be proactive about.  It’s sneaky.  It’s not as obvious in any way as I am really really good at putting on a happy face, especially with my kids.

I help people.  It’s what I do.  Somewhere along the way I became the person people trust and confide in and ask for help.  I don’t ask for help FROM people nearly as often as I need to.  Except a rare few who have seen me completely raw and vulnerable, I stick to my Irish bootstrap can handle anything attitude.

Why can’t people just know what I need when I need it?  Why can’t they just read my mind?  Because they can’t.  And they shouldn’t be expected to.  I need to speak up when I need something.  Just as so many people ask me for help, I need to ask them back.

I was angry lonely hungry tired and this time I didn’t even know it until the relief hit.

It happens in waves until I replenish.  Until I get some time to care for myself.

I saw some folks yesterday that I don’t get to see very often, yet are essential to my well being.  And I got so filled up that I finally realized how depleted I’ve been.  It’s the people.  It’s the people and the connection that fill me up.  I hope I do the same for them.  That’s the key.  That’s the whole thing.  Connection.  I don’t care how we get it, but we need it.

Here’s a good tip. After you’ve been with someone do you feel better or worse?  Depleted or filled up?  Used up and wrung out or appreciated and acknowledged and so encouraged that a smile just appears on your face from the thought of it?  That will give you a good indication of whether you keep that person around or not. And ask yourself how others feel after being around you. What are you presenting to others ?

In the last 5 days, my husband and I had the opportunity to go on three dates.  THREE DATES!  That’s more than we’ve had in months.  We had family babysit and a day off yesterday with our Awesome Nanny taking over for a few hours and we got to go have some fun.  Just the two of us.  My husband and I are together a lot.  But we always have our kids with us. Which is great, but you know how that goes.  I really really like my husband.  We laughed and indulged and took our time and didn’t once have to pull crayons out of my purse or rush through a meal because somebody was melting down.  That connection.  There’s a reason we’ve been together so long and through so much together and that’s our connection. Nobody knows us like we do.  Nobody can laugh at us like we do.  Nobody can love us like we do.  Filled up.  We fill each other up.

Relationships are challenging.  Add in a couple kids and it’s a wonder any of us stay together the entire time.  There are times I want to walk out the door and never come back.  I’m sure he feels the same way.  But we don’t.  We haven’t.  Yet.

I have been taking more baths lately.  Nobody can bother me in there.  I say that in the nicest possible way.

I threw out those holey tights last night.

I intend on getting some new work shoes and some new running shoes and taking a walk/run BY MYSELF in the evenings once it gets a bit warmer out.  Nobody can bother me there.  Again, that nice way of saying that.

I go out every so often with girlfriends and go to shows every so often.  I need to do that more often.

I care for so many people.  I care for my kids, my husband, my family, my Boss, my friends, my readers.  I need to constantly remember to care for myself.

Accountability for self care.  It’s important.  What are you doing?  I have all these posts on Self Care and yet, I still struggle.  We can get better at this.

Self care is not selfish.  I don’t want to miss a moment of this incredible life by being too strung out to see what is right in front of me.  THAT is why it’s so important we women (AND MEN) care for ourselves.

See also:

Growth through Regression – The Longer I Live the Less I Know for Sure

This is what happened when I learned to love my imperfect self

I actually really like and respect my husband

10 Simple Ways to Feel Better When Everything Seems Terrible


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