Lately, I have felt like the inside of a soda pop bottle. The liquid that swashes and swishes around against the inside of the plastic bottle being tossed around by a swinging hand. A sway to one side and a swoosh to the other before one day the handler grabs the bottle with both hands and furiously shakes it with all their might. The pressure builds. And finally the cap unscrews and I feel all the emotions that have been stirring inside me, spill out all over myself, others and everything I touch.
Now I am left cleaning the mess.
A mess that includes words mumbled under my breath to my husband in frustration, yet he heard; impatience with my two-year-old who just can’t keep up with my mental and physical speed of doing things; shortness with my work department team who bears the brunt of coldness after I return from a stressful meeting; a home that needs dire attention due to lack of time to care for the space; and, my own personal self who feels the weight of the world heavy on my mind and heart.
This past week I had an encounter with a co-worker that still at this very moment leaves me sad, angry and exhausted for trying. The words and their even more powerful tone during the conversation depleted me. I wish I could have a do-over and I wish I had stood up for myself more. But, I am that soda right now swishing and swaying from side to side, moving in one direction to abruptly move in the other. I was not on my A-game, but they were on theirs. And, as I stuttered over my words, I let another human control my emotions.
When I hung up the phone in my office, I screamed a nice, dirty cuss word to the sky and hung my head in complete frustration.
And that was my moment… my moment of reckoning. My confidence was shattered.
I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a mother of a toddler. I work full-time. I commute two hours each day. I handle our home and meals and laundry. I never stop, never just stop. And, while I whine and complain, I know I am not alone in this world in feeling completely overwhelmed. I know my threshold has been met in all I can do and all I can handle. I am maxed out. I am that soda pop exploding from the pressures of a shaken bottle.
I lost confidence in my capabilities of being a good wife, but it was temporary, I blamed it on the outside pressures, putting our daughter first and extreme stressfulness of work right now.
I lost my confidence in being a great daughter, but it was temporary, I blamed it on being too busy in general in life and told myself my parents had to understand. This is just my season.
I lost my confidence in being an exceptional mom, but it was temporary, surely, this is how it feels for everyone, right? Because honestly, by 6:30 pm when I walk in the door – I still have a list to complete before I can even lay my own head, so real playtime just doesn’t exist and then the guilt builds.
I lost my confidence in our home, because, with a toddler, Lord knows the clean living room will just return to the madness of toys as soon as I wrap the cord on the sweeper. But this is temporary, this is life with kids.
The only place I had not lost my confidence was in my work. I poured every single ounce of my body into my job and my responsibilities and as I type this I feel so much therapy for shamefully admitting that. It has been a constant (possibly a nagging constant) but a constant none the less and a place where I felt I was great.
But, then that conversation happened with a co-worker and the words said to me, “Take ownership of your failure…” cut through me. I have tough skin, oh believe me I have tough skin, but it really was the very moment the cap opened on the shaken soda bottle and I went spilling onto the floor.
I came home that night and I worked out for the first time in a few months. I squatted all the way to the floor, I screamed when I pushed my body just one more rep and I poured every ounce of angry, stress, frustration, resentment that had been building into that stupid 30-minute workout.
And, then the next morning I awoke in bed and when I went to roll over, my whole body ached in pain. Initially, I thought, “I am getting the flu.” I ached everywhere, but as I lifted my body from the bed and sat up, feet dangling to the floor, I knew– it was the workout.
For the next two days whenever I moved, I hurt all over. Climbing the steps to do laundry, getting up from my office chair to use the restroom, getting on the floor to play with my daughter. But, every time I felt the tug of a muscle that I pushed way too hard, I was reminded of the building pain I have been feeling and the sudden crash and burn of what I felt was every major pillar in my life crumbling around me. My confidence shattered on every level. Suddenly, the “but this is temporary” that I excused myself for felt so raw and real.
We mothers tend to take care of ourselves last. We are so focused on everything and everyone around us that we handle it all like the swish and swoosh of soda inside a swinging bottle.
My advice to you… don’t let the pressure build until you explode when the cap finally falls off.
We are resilient beings with the ability to redefine and re-evaluate our lives, and that is the most powerful thing. These aches and body pains from my overdone therapy workout session now remind me I have to take care of myself first before I can take care of anything or anyone else. I push through the physical pain, and I know it is part of the process in rebuilding my crumbling pillars.
As I clean up the mess I have made and wipe up the sticky soda that covers every inch around me, I am reminded of my strength and lift my head in confidence and realize we can all pick ourselves up and start again.