July 21, 2013
It was Wednesday afternoon around 11:54am when I finally hit a wall. For weeks I’ve been on a tailspin with my stepchildren in town, working non-stop, attending events and maintaining a lackluster workout regimen. If I wasn’t in a meeting or running an errand, I was cleaning the house, doing the dishes, folding the laundry or cooking dinner.
I was lacking sleep, surrounded by paperwork, on chat with the cable company while my youngest was holding onto my leg crying. I texted my best friend expressing my erratic emotional state and she gave me the go-ahead to ‘let it all out’ – and so I did.
I cried because I was tired, frustrated, overwhelmed and stressed. I cried because it felt like my entire life is dedicated to caring for other people, whether they are my kids, my husband, my elderly residents, my employees or my extended family. I cried because I didn’t know when this feeling would ever end – if I would ever be able to wake up and have nothing to do, no emails to write, no room to clean or no person to call – and the paradox I would feel with the loss of action in my life.
I cried because I felt weak.
In that moment I thought about the little girl I once was, who was nicknamed the ‘little mommy’ growing up because I cared for my siblings, cleaned the house and made school lunches. I thought of the mornings in Junior High when I would wake punctually at 4:55am to iron my mother’s clothes, prepare her breakfast, pack her lunch and ensure she was out of the house by 5:35am for work. I thought about how I juggled overloading my units each quarter at UC Davis while staying committed to my clients as a personal trainer in college.
And then I thought about the day I left my life.
I thought about the quiet days I spent as a young working woman in the bustling city of San Francisco. I was free from the responsibilities that made me grow early as a child – but in that same moment, I also lost all the symbols that I related to on a daily basis. I was no longer a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend or a student. I didn’t have familial obligations, relationship worries or academic pressures.
I was just me – but at 22 years old, I didn’t know who ‘me’ was.
I realized I was everything my mother wanted to become. I was everything society influenced me to desire. I was single, fit and beautiful…a college graduate, a beauty queen, a corporate employee…
I was everything to everyone – but me.
I began the struggle that would become the most significant game changer of my life. I underwent a debilitating eating disorder, I became 30lbs overweight and I started documenting my innermost thoughts online. I would often cry, wishing my mother would hold me…wishing that God could see me and realizing that the longing to be nurtured and cared for was an unusual but common feeling. Looking back I know that while I was in my mid-twenties, my heart wanted to revert back to being 7-years-old…when my mom used to cradle me in her arms and my dad would hold my hand. I wanted to feel protected just long enough before the weight of the world – and the challenging things I would see and feel – didn’t force me to grow up before my time.
I cried the other day because I was unveiling who I was – once again – in the path of intense resistance.
In our life’s path, who we become mirrors who we see in the reflections of our adversity.
While struggle came early, that discomfort made me grow. ..and while my recent days have been hard, I know that my strive will develop my strength, for we are only given what we can endure.
I’ m not perfect. I’m not supermom.
I’m striving – and in this strive, I’m developing my strength.