March 2, 2011

i can't please everybody

i can't please everybody. telling myself this over and over again, inbetween several deep breaths to try to keep the tears from falling faster than i can dry them away with my lashes. telling myself that expectations are the root cause of dissatisfaction and i don't have to take my inability to meet his expectations personally. asking myself how it is that the mothers of small children, especially the mothers that work inside the home or get their hands involved in various creative outlets in an effort to not lose sight of themselves, i ask myself how these mothers maintain a perfectly immaculate, or even a less cluttered home all of the time. telling myself that they don't. although, i'm sure some do, i don't know too many that do it without help and i'm not feeling sorry for myself in the least but i have to state here, in case you didn't know, that i don't have any help. i take time for myself by stealing it but that takes away from all of my wifely and motherly duties and all i end up doing is disappointing my husband. so the only message i hear is that i can't please everybody and least of all myself because i didn't put the dishes away first, because i let the laundry pile up.

sometimes i get really tired of sweeping up the crumbs after each crumby incident and i let them sit until the next time sprout spills something on the floor. i don't have the same work ethic as my husband and i don't force myself to put things away right after i use them each and every time. these are the things that matter.

over the course of the last week i have started working on a painting. it's sort of personal but also light-hearted as the real sentiment behind it is one that will have to work itself out in a number of pieces. it's loosely based on the lyrics to two different songs that i've heard a lot over the last year. the personal aspect, though, is based on a feeling of being home, or right where i was supposed to be forever and always, since the very first time awesome papa gave me one of his awesome hugs and i rested my head in the side of his neck and knew i never wanted to leave. see it doesn't matter that i've wanted to express this in as many ways as possible for the last six and a half years. it doesn't matter that i finally started to get it out on canvas. all that matters is that my paints or brushes and various other things have taken up space they shouldn't have. i am only using a few tools here and there, to squeeze in five to fifteen minutes of painting time throughout the day but i am not putting them away each and every time, so even though i was really happy with where the experience of painting this particular thing has been taking me, now i'm just sad. i can grasp at that happiness again, i'm sure, once the fog of his disappointment wears off. i'll regain perspective but this morning i want to throw the whole thing in the trash, box up all of my supplies, and never touch them again.

it's not that the feeling behind the message is gone. it's that i don't feel worthy or good enough. this morning i pretty much knew what was wrong but made the mistake of asking anyway, and thus confirming what i was afraid of. he doesn't think i'm good enough, either. it doesn't matter that i've been doing something, nearly full-time, for a couple of months (that i don't really want to be doing). it doesn't matter that my kids and i have been sick several times since i started doing this thing that i don't want to be doing, one of those times being the nastiest stomach bug to ever run through any of my kids. it doesn't matter that i am mentally exhausted and probably need therapy or at least therapeutic drugs to lessen the high-strungedness that comes rather naturally but also builds upon itself when i am fundamentally not happy with how i spend my days. blah blah blah, i say that a lot. call it childhood conditioning. i know, i could make excuses until the cows home, nevermind if they're valid or not. point is, i have disappointed him by not living up to his expectations of keeping the house spotless at all times or even using my days off as time to really bust ass and clean up the boys' room. it hardly matters that even if i did, it would look much the same as it does with clothes and toys everywhere, by the time he got home. but. there i go again with the excuses.

now. this must be said. my husband is not an asshole. however, i have called him one, to his face, probably three or four times during the length of our relationship because he was acting like one. in my humble opinion, his behavior does not excuse my choice of words. in fact, my choice of words totally sucks. but on the other hand, the fact that i've only used this word so few times also says quite a bit about the two of us and how much i've grown as a person because i pretty much used to call people assholes just for the fun of it. my husband is not an asshole, though he can act like one. i can act like a total bitch and probably more often. fine. i am a bitch. whatever. he says i "project" or yell as a "defense mechanism" and i say he avoids communication, especially if it might lead to conflict. i open and boom, he closes himself off and wants to live in a home without any sort of confrontation. i don't know how to do that. i have learned through the years to give him time. sometimes days. i don't need to have an argument for argument's sake. i don't need immediate attention all of the time, but i can't let things get brushed under the rug either because those things become sticky resentments that live in my throat like a stone i cannot swallow, they live in my bones and muscles as the aches that make it both difficult to sleep and hard to get out of bed once i've found it, they are the weight on my shoulders and i don't want to live with pent-up anything because that's just not my nature. i am raw and exposed, always. emotional, if you will, and here, that is not a good thing.

also. i can live with my own disappointment. i think i truly learned how to forgive myself and move forward and get the fuck over it when i started studying buddhism and put the whole idea into practice and even though this isn't really an in-depth study of the noble truths of buddhist philosophy, i sum it up as:

life is suffering.

our own expectations and attachments cause suffering.

there can be an end to suffering when we no longer "attach" ourselves to or "expect" certain outcomes.

that's all fine and well. it works mostly and i no longer dwell in my own personal disappointment of myself because i tenderly acknowledge that i'm doing the best that i can with what i've got. period. end of story, right?

i thought.

apparently, though, i can still come undone when it becomes obvious that i am a glaring disappointment to someone else. even if only by definition of their own expectations and whether those expectations are realistic or not. so today i am undone but recovering quickly. writing this actually helped the tears i was in when i started and i truly thought it would have the opposite effect. i will be okay and he will be okay and we will be okay but as long as he always maintains the same expectations i will always be some kind of disappointment. the only foreseeable problem with this arrangement is that i may become comfortable in this position and he may grow increasingly more uncomfortable and then i don't know what.

i don't want that so i ask myself if there is more i could do around here on a regular, consistent basis? the answer is a resounding yes. obviously. i mean, i am aware of it and it's not like i feel my husband is being unreasonable but i also have to be aware that some other childhood experiences have conditioned me to receive and accept full blame and responsibility for everything always. the part of me that has read self-help books since age eighteen knows that this is ridiculously unfair and unhealthy. however, back to reality, the truth is that i cannot delegate additional responsibility to someone that works so much outside of the home. i cannot force my teenager to be more naturally helpful around here (getting him to actually help is either like pulling teeth or creates more work for me in the long run) and counting on either of them to treat me as tenderly as i've had to treat myself over the years will just never happen. so it appears like i have no other options, regardless of how unhealthy it may be. i can do more and somehow i will or this will all fall apart because i don't understand how the perfect balance is really anyone else's challenge but my own.

1 comment:

  1. I will post again (and call you) after I clean up all the crackers and ramen that Cam just smashed all over the floor. You ARE good enough. You're better than good enough. You're an amazing mother. You're a very gifted artist. You're a wonderful friend. You're, from what I've seen, a great wife. And no, we can't please everyone. But pleasing ourselves is a damn good place to start. I can't preach that, you know that full well. But I think you and I both need to focus on that concept a little bit more. Hang in there. You've done and are doing things that most people won't even contemplate attempting. Love ya ♥


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