Have you ever been so very tired and not even sure why? Are you the one always looked at as the one who will take care of everything? The person who always comes through? Wouldn’t you just like someone to ask you how you are? Maybe more than once and with real concern?
There are days when it just hits you. You realize that you are beyond tired. Like it takes too much effort to even say just how tired you are. You aren’t sure where your energy went, how you lost your focus, or why you don’t want to be the one in charge, but here it is, and you are trying to deal with it. Or not. Facing it seems harder than what you are doing. Maybe you are the type when asked if you are ok, always replies, “I’m fine.” You might be anything but fine. You could be on the last shred of sanity. It could be illness related, a bad time in your life, or just that you’ve burned the candle at both ends, but no one will let you extinguish the light and call it a day. You just want to close your eyes and not wake up again.
I know there have been times I just wanted to scream and say, “Enough!” I don’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone, or think about anyone else. I want to temporarily exit the life I’m leading and just be alone. Go to a corner and lick my wounds. When I am like that I can’t remember the last time I did anything just for me because I wanted to and didn’t have to consider at least a half a dozen people before I came up with the idea. I am angry and frustrated and just plain ole tired! And I am too angry, frustrated, and tired to fix it.
It happens to all of us at some point when we don’t take care of ourselves and try to be all things to everyone around us. We let whatever we have to give go way beyond where we should have stopped. We tell ourselves there will be time later. We keep hoping that the people or situation draining us will stop, but it usually doesn’t. It’s really our fault that things got out of hand, but it never stops us from plugging away thinking the world will fall apart if we don’t keep at it. We aren’t truthful about what it’s doing to us and we can’t expect people to read our minds. If they care enough to ask, we need to learn to be honest and not just say we are fine.
It is one thing to be stuck in a situation you can do nothing about. And there will always be people who legitimately need our help. That’s why it’s important for us to take a hard, honest look at what we are asking someone else to do. You know how many times you’ve said, “I wonder how she does it? She makes it look so easy. I’d never pull it off like she does.” Or, “He works so hard and yet always seems to find the time to spend with his kids. He does 12 hour shifts, comes home, coaches his son’s team, and volunteers every time they need something at church.” You know the types. Maybe that describes you. It could be your spouse, your adult child, your neighbor, or your best friend. They could be a single mom, working and raising kids. They could be a man taking care of his elderly mom on his own. They could be grandparents raising their grandkids while their parents are in rehab. No matter who it is, they need to know you care enough to ask how they are. Not once, not even twice. Ask every time you see them and mean it. Ask, “How are you? Really.” Don’t settle for, “I’m fine.” Let them get irritated with you for asking so much, but do it. Anybody who’s been holding it together for too long is going to fight you on this. They’ve clammed up those feelings because they are scared if they break down, they’ll never get it together again. They don’t want to feel weak. The impression they want the world to see is that it’s all going smoothly and efficiently. That can cover a multitude of issues and it just pushes you to your breaking point all the quicker.
It doesn’t make you a weak or bad person to need help. Or to need to vent. Or to just finally admit you can’t do it anymore. That’s being smart. That’s giving people the best you have to give because you haven’t worn yourself to a frazzle. It’s being courageous to say you’ve hit a brick wall and don’t know where to turn.
So, if you find yourself at the end of your rope, when building a fort and coloring all day in your pajamas is the most appealing idea you’ve had in a while, then maybe it really is time to let others into your world and your life. It is time for a break. It is time to say,” Today, I am the priority.” In order to be your best, you have to be at your best. Taking care of you means being able to continue to take care of them. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. When someone asks how you are, don’t be offended. If they ask how you really are, be honest. They care and even if they can’t be the help you need at the moment, it doesn’t mean they won’t be at some point. You’ll feel better for having gotten it off of your chest too. Being able to just say it makes me feel better. It also gives me a better perspective to utter the words I thought I should never even think, not alone speak. No one demands more of you; than you, yourself. You are your harshest critic. Understand that the walls won’t come tumbling down, Humpty will be put back together, and life does go on. It will be ok. It’s never going to be perfect. You will never be perfect. It will still be ok.