Holding Myself Sacred
One of my favorite things in all the world is a to-do list. There is just something about writing out all of the things I need to do and then putting a check in each hand-drawn box when I have completed the task. It feels right. I feel accomplished. Laundry (divided on my list into categories), check. Return that shirt to Macy's, check. Research consumer lending laws in a state where the bank would like to begin making consumer unsecured loans, check. The combination of planning and productivity is my essence. It makes me feel alive. When I can finish something, or many somethings, and do those things well, I feel good about myself. It makes me confident. And when that list includes doing things for others, it makes me happy.
It also makes me tired. I have spent most days in my recent memory feeling as though I'm wasting away unless I'm filling every moment with something. It's exhausting on a lot of levels.
I've prayed over the years for rest. It's one of the reasons I left law firm life and went in-house. I wanted the ability to relax, to breathe, to be still. But, truthfully, I didn't know how. Instead of filling Sunday afternoon with billable hours, I filled it with chores. In my mind, if I wasn't accomplishing something, I wasn't being productive, and if I wasn't being productive, what was the point of that day? I'd brag about my weekend at work on Monday: here are all the things I got done! Ugh.
When I started dating Dustin, the need to plan every second continued. He lived an hour away so in my mind, we needed to make the most of the time we got to spend with each other. Going into each week, I'd start planning our next weekend. Once we got engaged, I had the most ultimate to-do list ever: a wedding. Talk about feeling productive! (and tired, and probably annoying to everyone around me). After the wedding, we had the house. Y'all, I LOVED building a house. So many things to list out and take care of!
Once we were finally settled in to our new life, I came to understand one of the many reasons God made Dustin for me. You see, I was suffocating him. For the first time since we met, I really didn't have anything that needed to be planned or needed to be "done." And yet, I somehow found a way to fill every moment, to plan every weekend. I would have kept being this way - planning, productive, and tired - forever, if it hadn't been for Dustin.
In my mind, much of what I think about and plan is either only for myself (I need to know what we're doing Saturday so that I know whether I need to wash my hair so that I'll know what time to wake up...) or it's for the benefit of someone else. There I was, managing OUR social life, planning things for US to do, thinking all along that what works for me must also work for him.
It was a humbling experience to know that my way not only didn't work for my husband but in reality, really wasn't working for me either. And that's the thing - I already knew it wasn't working for me. That's why I read The Best Yes and prayed for rest. I just didn't have someone to come along and stop me from overwhelming myself until Dustin. Oh, it wasn't an easy conversation or an easy season. But I'm super grateful that he loves me enough to say, whoa, this is not going to work for me or our marriage.
So at the beginning of this year I made a decision. I would take 2018 and figure out who and how I wanted to be. I would take a step back from the future and try to live in the here and now. Now don't get me wrong. I bought a planner for this year. I have a to-do list open next to me as I type this. But I set as my lock screen this year the following quote:
"She made a promise to herself to hold her own well-being sacred."
I knew the only way I would be the wife Dustin needed and the woman I wanted to be would be if I took care of myself - for real this time. Holding my well-being sacred meant re-defining "productive." In 2018, I made fitness a priority because it relaxes me and makes me feel good and strong. I have almost finished an entire bottle of bubble bath (which is saying something for someone who generally cannot sit still). I'm about to finish a 600 page book that I read - gasp - just for the fun of it. I've begun to purge the clothes from my closet that I have had for longer than I'm willing to admit, and have finally started updating my wardrobe. Dustin and I found a hobby (scuba diving) that we can both enjoy. And at home, I've learned that it's okay if I ignore the mounting laundry heap and instead, eat Halo Top and watch a re-run of Charmed while Dustin plays Call of Duty before bed. I'm allowed to splurge on the productivity that is relaxation - in other words, on nothing (as is Dustin, though he probably wouldn't refer to COD as nothing... insert the eye roll of someone who does not understand but still supports her husband's need for XBox).
There is plenty of 2018 left, but I already feel like it's been a defining year for me. I still have a servant's heart, but I've learned - at least a little - when my focus needs to be on me. I like to think I'm more fun to be around and easier to be married to when I'm not trying to plan and do all the things, all the time. And y'all. I'm not nearly as tired.
I recently started listening to Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis (because let's face it, I'm more likely to listen to it on my work commute than take the time to sit down and read it... self-discovery, y'all), and there are entire chapters where I feel like I'm listening to my own story. In one chapter, Rachel says that in her overwhelmed life, she had to "push" herself to rest. It seems counter-intuitive to work at rest, but I get it. Oh, I get it. And I'm so thankful that I've taken the time, put forth the energy, to push for it myself.