Being okay doing nothing

bookI started reading Present over Perfect. It is a good book and one I need to keep handy. I am recovering perfectionist….it has made me very reflective about myself and how I have changed and am changing.

I use to always have to keep busy even if it was cleaning and re-cleaning back to back. Perfection was the enemy. Busy equaled tired and at the day ended in bed but without meaningful connections being made while awake. All I was doing made others think I could do and handle all things well. I just got good at hiding how well it was not going.

This was the first year when kids were gone during the summer I did nothing… I usually have a house project or a lists of places to go or a trip. But this year for the 2 different weeks when the kids were gone I did not do anything of significance or thrilling or needed besides the usual workout, eat, sleep and laundry as needed. I wasn’t bored and didn’t look for things to do, start or finish. It was quite needed without knowing I needed it. It was good practice as well. Not working full time and all kids being in school and mostly self sufficient I have lots of down time but I fill it with noise whether it’s volunteer, clean the clean, surf the depths of the Internet for no reason or cook and bake so much that I end up hating eating because it means I’ll have to cook again.

This year, this time I sat a lot. Maybe music was in the background sometimes it wasn’t. I read books. Which is odd but the more time that goes by the more I enjoy reading books that cause me to look at myself and reflect, get in tune with my own thoughts and feelings.

When I first decided to have do nothing days it was tough. I felt guilty, I got bored, but I’m learning  to rest in the ok of accomplishing nothing on some days. I’ve found it helps me balance what’s really necessary in our life… I began making decisions more on is it best for the life style that’s focused on less… Less stress, less stuff, less crazy….it has also given a great balance to the days life is going fast and furious.

Years ago I would have never thought I’d have days I did nothing.

At my core I like doing things and going places. I love being with people, helping , having fun and creating new things… I’m very social and don’t want to miss events. I just find more meaning in making sure the things I do are fruitful, meaningful, important to life’s goals and not the to do list and that what we do isn’t just because we want something to do…

I’ve always struggled with being worthy or good enough. Growing up and mean kids and struggles can make for a nasty self-image… My thinking was always ‘If I do this or that I’ll be accepted and find friends. I’ll look important and competent.’ But perfection created messes and fights and I began to see how selfish it really was…it only took 30 something years.

To be perfect was all about me and how I looked and nothing to do with those I loved. It just made them feel less than and the distance between us grew and grew. But I’m and extremist type person, all or nothing… I’d flip between do it all perfectly to doing nothing at all. I didn’t know how to live in the in between. It took so much work to not clean or say no or miss this event or that because I just needed to slow down and cut things out.

And then, like always, I feel, your kids or your health shock you into learning how to live in the in between perfect and idle.

For me, it was seeing distance in relationships, seeing my kids feel they are not worthy of me because they cannot do all I was trying to do. Then there were hardships for one child that cut me to the core and took all my energy to help her…that battle was over and I was struck with debilitating fatigue and spent about a year getting to the core of that. Luckily, my doctor and I have found the cause and we are repairing and supporting the issues. All of those things on top of the everyday life of being a parent, spouse, working part-time and anything else that came along really took its toll. At first it was more of a physical toll but as I slowed down I began to be confronted with the emotional and spiritual side of it.

At some point my soul became dried up. I was longing for something I couldn’t quite put into words. I need something deeper than what I had, a deeper connection with people, an intimacy in friendships that are authentic and vulnerable. A soft landing-place with friends that came naturally and easily.

I began to learn that my frustrations were a result of things not going my way, not being perfect or as expected. It was hard to take the step back, when frustrated or upset, and analyze why because almost always those feelings came from what I wanted and wasn’t getting. It doesn’t feel good to admit to yourself you are being so selfish.

I wanted quiet and kids were fighting.

I wanted sleep and Jason needed me.

I wanted be at home and kids had places they needed to go.

I wanted my friend but her family needed her.

I wanted and I wanted and there wasn’t much grace on my part. I’d get frustrated and mad. At times I could mask it and no one knew. But I was a wreck and I was pouty and questioned if I was good enough or worthy. I looked to the perfection and the busyness to hide and bury the things I didn’t or couldn’t deal with the  as well as the things I wanted to go away and forget. The thing is they don’t, you become busier because it always takes more and more work to try to keep them buried. I didn’t have my people, the intimate friends and the vulnerability with them. I was searching for that, still am. I’ve tried to make it happen because I wanted it so bad and sometimes it happened with the wrong people which left more of a mess, hurt and empty space.

I still have those I call my people outside of family relationships but most live so any miles away and we don’t get to connect the way I yearn for often. Those friendships that are physically close seem to only go so far, when there’s a moment or time for intimacy and vulnerability things get silent, life seems to be really busy and it’s only after the fact you find out someone was having a rough time and needed help. I’ll admit I’ve not gone deep with them at times… Being vulnerable is earned and fearful. It all takes time and seems like everyone else’s life is so busy….



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