It’s past 1 a.m., and I am still awake. Thinking. My brain doesn’t stop. It twirls with self-doubt and worry. I overthink everything.
Are my babies all right? Did I spoil them? Did I yell too much? Are they going to grow up and hate me? Did I do my job well today? Were my clients pleased with my work? Is being away from home all day worth it? Will my kiddos resent me? Was I a good wife? Should I have acted differently? Said more? Said less?
After the interrogation comes the I should-haves. I should have picked up the toys and washed the dishes before bed. I should have handled that meltdown my toddler had differently. I should have been more pleasant in that interaction with the company that messed up my order. I should have hugged my husband when he got home. I should have cooked a better dinner. I should have spent more time with the kids.
Then I make lists. Lists of how I will do better tomorrow. I will eat heartier. I will pray more. I will go to the gym. I will be the best wife/mom/boss. I will. I will. I will.
After I’ve made the rounds of improvement thinking, I head back to overanalyzing.
Usually, it’s specific interactions that occurred during my day. I think of each conversation. Did I say or do the right thing? How could I have done it better?
I try to distract myself. I never count sheep, but sometimes I count the ways I have failed. I failed at making the kids a healthy breakfast. One. I failed at keeping my cool when I had to tell my son to put his shoes on for the 50th time. Two. I failed at eating a healthy lunch. Three.
Sometimes I make myself nauseated. Sometimes I cry. Other times I just worry and plan and think about what I could be doing to become better.
Of course, the challenge of the cycle of overthinking is that it takes me a long time to fall asleep—well after I have climbed under my covers and shut off the lights. The lack of sleep makes me grouchy the next morning. I have never been a morning person anyway.
My grouchiness bleeds into the interactions with my kids. This sets my day off on the wrong foot, which I take with me to the office. I am then unable to be my best self at work, which makes me grumpy when I come home. This makes me not want to cook, so I order takeout. Then, I am so tired, I don’t clean up, and I go straight to bed. And the cycle repeats.
When I finally drift off, I am thinking about how much better I will do tomorrow.
It’s certainly achievable, I think as my eyes flutter shut. Maybe someday I will find rest. Maybe someday I will be better. In the meantime, I see all of my fellow overthinkers every evening well past our bedtimes. Know I am awake, too, in solidarity. I wish you all a peaceful night’s sleep.