Guilt. I finally nailed it down. It is exactly what has been consuming me and "motivating" me for weeks.
I had a break down Thursday night, as we pregnant women often do, and what I finally heard myself saying was that I'm not good enough and that is what is motivating me to do anything. It's what makes me clean, cook, get dressed, work out, take my kids to the beach and pay the bills. The guilt I feel drives me and it's the most unsatisfying drive I've ever taken. Because once I accomplish a task I've guilted myself through, I'm still worthless. I'm still not good enough and didn't accomplish enough. I've still yelled too much, let the vegetables rot in their drawer in the fridge and I've still laid down for at least an hour every day in the last week.
Living with guilt as my guide has wrecked me. My self esteem has dropped to a dangerously low level. I'm fragile and guarded. I don't want to interact or talk to friends. I don't even open up to my husband as completely as I used to or as I should. I am stunting myself from any kind of growth and success and blocking my heart from valuable relationships. It's miserable.
After my cry, I walked out in to the dark to sit on my lanai. The night was bright and my mind was awake after finally pin pointing what had been poisoning my every day. I started sifting through the painful feelings I was crippled by. I found the guilt and then I found the "excuses". I had convinced myself that any of my short comings were excuses for my lack of skills and poor behavior. I'm pregnant with my fourth kid; so what? I'm exhausted a lot more than usual; boo hoo. I don't feel like eating healthy; that's fine, be fat. My feet are so swollen I need to lay down; okay, quitter.
My self talk was horrifying. I allowed myself NO EXCUSES. The trouble is, I was confusing excuses with answers. Sometimes, our small short comings are actually just answers rather than the excuses of a failing woman. I had to ask myself, in all those times where I was making excuses, was I giving it my best? Was I trying my hardest to complete tasks and keep my life and the lives of my family going? Or was I cashing out early and skipping out on my daily duties and the needs of the ones I love? I sat in the dark on the lanai and felt the most relief I have in maybe a year, I was doing my absolute best. I could finally, comfortably, honestly say it. I was not making any excuses. I was full of answers. Sometimes the answer is, truly, that we are just tired, worn out, done, finished and in desperate need of putting our puffy, doughy feet up.
And so, where was I going to go with my new found clarity? Straight to the top! Just kidding. Back to bed. But before I fell asleep I remembered my conversation with my oldest from a few weeks ago. After another melt down over a hiccup in his life I asked him, "are you going to freak out, or are you going to fix it?" Of course we talked it through but we both decided that real life is about fixing the problems we are faced with. And side note here, it usually takes a lot longer to fix the problem than it does for a) the problem to occur and b) than it does to just freak out. But even after you're done freaking out you've still got the problem. So stop wasting the energy with the freak out and start off by finding the best fix first.
I was going to fix it. I was dead set. The first thing I would do was reorder my thoughts and start seeing my excuses as answers to my problems. Sometimes the answer to an equation is seen as negative, like the ones listed above, but they don't have to be. They can just be answers. And even though I had answers to problems like exhaustion, swollen feet and more exhaustion, I had to let that be okay in my brain. I had to let my memories over the last 4 months and maybe even a year and a half (for sure the year and a half) be settled in understanding rather than blame.
Then I asked, what will I do from here to continue to avoid this pitfall? I will keep answering the problem. I won't stop doing my best and I will congratulate myself every step of the way.
I know this all seems small. When I had my lanai conversation with myself I felt the light bulb turn on. I felt the peace wash over me. I felt so. much. relief. It may not wash over you now after reading this post like it did me, but hopefully it will remind you to be kind to yourself. To keep doing your best and keep patting yourself on the back for doing it. After all, our best is all we can do. Go put your feet up, lady.