I go through the motions of simplifying more often than anyone I know. There are two reasons for this; one good, one bad:
1.) I recognize that I am much more sensitive to stress than the average person. Whether this stems more from my illness or my natural personality, I may never know, but I do know when the red lights are flashing and it’s time to reevaluate what is essential in life and what must take the back burner for a while (or forever).
2.) I keep adding things back after I simplify. I suppose this is because the momentary relief I feel after I let some things go gets mistaken for me being in a more stable place mentally, and I foolishly start piling the crap back into my life, saying yes to people when I still should be saying no, making plans to resume this and that with bigger and better ideas than ever before, etc. And then I end up in the same frazzled, overwhelmed, resentful spot that I thought I had escaped.
It’s an ongoing cycle. The adding, the subtracting.
I may never truly learn to stop doing this. Because I end up having to cut out things (and people) that I love, for my own psychiatric good, and then I miss those things and people and decide that I need them more than they are harming me.
I also get in the mindset that everything I ever want to do in life must be done NOW. After all, I am not promised tomorrow; no one is. It’s hard to pack up dreams and not know if they will ever be taken back out of the box again. For instance, I had decided this year was THE YEAR for me to finish revising one of my books so that I could hopefully attempt getting it published. I made cuts in things like social networking, I made a schedule, I made a freaking commitment to do this, okay? But…I have the most remarkable toddler boy on my hands. He’s adorable. He’s funny. He’s a handful! Like, on a level I never experienced with my daughters or even with the boys I used to babysit. Imagine, this one little boy exhausting me more than the five toddlers/preschoolers I babysat for five years as a home daycare provider! So, obviously writing while he is awake is out of the question. Nap time is a joke. And by the time I put the kid in bed I am so tired I can’t keep my eyes propped open long enough to turn the lamp off, let alone put something intelligible in book form. Excuses, excuses, my brain screams at me. So-and-so did it with young children at home, why can’t you? Because I am not so-and-so. I am me. And I know my personal limits. I also know that, regardless of how much I love writing and the idea of being published, I love my children more. And that being said, if I never get around to finishing a book because I was too busy raising my kids, that is the one excuse I will accept as a valid one.
Mother Teresa once said “not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” I may never amount to much in worldly terms, but I want to do the small things for my family with great love. I have struggled to even do this as of late. I have shamefully hated being a mother, a homemaker, and even being alive. But I am going to try harder, and that means letting go of more. Like the feeling that I am a failure because the house is an utter wreck and I can’t seem to get a handle on the laundry. It means letting go of the idea that I have to please people who will continue to criticize and judge me anyway. It means releasing the urge to belittle myself each time I get something wrong in the anal-retentive terms I have set for myself over the years. It means neglecting the idea that I must look at the big picture in order to succeed in life. Because often (perhaps always) it is the small snapshots along the way, the every day things, the true things, that are what really carry us from one triumph to another.
So, simplify? Yes. Again and again. Then simplify some more. And whenever what is left is small enough to barely reach around you, gather it in your arms and give it the greatest of your time and love, and know that it is good enough.