If Everyone Could Just Stop Needing Me for a While, That’d Be Great.

Did you read that in the voice of the boss from the office space? You should’ve. I fully intended to make this a funny post. Except it didn’t turn out that way.

I’ve written before that my love language is acts of service. I will do nearly anything in my power to help someone in need because it makes me happy to make others happy and have a part in making their lives easier. With this, I’ve earned myself a reputation for being both a yes man and pretty darned reliable. Yes, boss, I will meet all of the new arbitrary deadlines you’re imposing on me out of the blue. Yes, kids, I’m going to try and be more fun and more present and more patient. Yes, friend who needs me, I will drop everything I’m doing to come help you! Yes, I will look that up for you. Yup, I’ll come rescue you. Sure, I can make that for you by tomorrow evening, happy to. I don’t want to disappoint so-and-so, they really need me.

All great things, right? Mostly.

Except sometimes I get so bogged down in the pressures of it all that I don’t even realize I’m drowning. I drown in my own desire to help everyone, and it takes a helluva fight to pull myself out … which means things get worse before they get better. I still have to meet those deadlines. I still have to take care of my kids. I still have to work two jobs to pay for all of the expenses we have. I still have to show up and be a good friend. I can’t throw these things by the wayside. It’s not in my nature. I don’t want to.

What I can’t figure out is, how do I reconcile who I want to be with what I need to do and what’s expected of me? I may as well ask what the meaning of life is, or why we are here. Who I want to be is a present mom, wife, and family member who eats well and exercises and manages to clean the house more than once every six weeks or so. Someone who reads actual books and practices empathy and is there for her friends anytime they need her. Who I am is a person that checks very few of those boxes.

It’s during these times that I feel like the worst friend, mother, family member, and employee that ever existed. Not because I’m finally putting myself and my needs first, oh no. Those still come later. I have somehow warped my own thinking so much that while I am still working my tail off to appease everyone around me, that *I* am not enough.

The weight of not-enoughness crushes me. My anxiety kicks in. I snap at people. I cry. I resent the people I care about most for a [largely] self-imposed problem. I spend a lot of time on the sidelines, pretending like I’m ok, while my to-do list eats away at me. My kids watch 7 hours of TV and I yell at them on a loop. I somehow forgive that friend who decides to be a jerk the ONE TIME I say I’m in too deep and can’t come running. And then the guilt kicks in … guilt for my behavior and guilt for not putting myself first for once.

I beg the universe for everyone to leave me alone for just a few days. Can people just default to someone else for once? Yes, it’s always assumed that I’ll be there and yes, when I’m not I’m a big disappointment. I curse my reliability and the doormat that it can make me.

And then I pull myself together, work overtime, and try to do better. Every check on the to-do list lifts a pound off my shoulders. And I know deep down that the thing about being the reliable friend and employee and family member is that eventually, my village swoops in when they can tell that I’ve been done in and they pull me out, just like I’ve done for them. I keep on going. Because it’s my nature. Because I need to.

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