Sunday, March 20, 2011

turning over a new leaf

At the risk of sounding like a complete whack...I am proceeding with this blog post! Blogging is an outlet for me. It is like my grown up diary. I use it to document the beautiful lives of my 2 lovelies...but this blog post is different. This one is about me and it's not as cute or glorifying :) Many people say, "I'm not sure how you do it Amber!" or "I'm so proud of you, you seem to just have it all together". Well, the truth is, I don't! For as long as I can remember, I have been an organized, particular, on top of everything, and very efficient. That's just me and that's not a bad thing! But my ways and the way I've allowed anxiety to manifest itself into full blown perfectionism, I've slowly come unraveled. Like I said, this post is not as sweet as my usual posts about my pretty little girl and my handsome tiny, but it is therapeutic for me. So read on if wanna or stop if you're bored already. So here it goes...

My name is Amber Reading and I am a compulsive list maker. I have had a running to do list in my kitchen drawer for 2 years now along with multiple mini lists in my purse, on the fridge, and in my bedside table about many other things "to do". The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem right? Well, I have a problem...a big one. I live compulsively by lists to the point that I'm never (by my own standards) ahead enough or feel accomplished enough. Once I accomplish one list, I look even farther to the future to see what I can prepare for or do. I'm always doing...not really resting and not just sitting and resting and enjoying today, the here and now. Um, stressful and unfulfilling much! And I'm pretty sure it is unbiblical :) I struggle with anxiety. Not all the time...just certain seasons of my life. Each time it gets worse and the most recent time I finally gave it to the fact that there are things that I am doing and/or not owning up to that I can fight to make a change and give up control (control that I never really had). I am 27 years old and here is what I have finally learned about myself through a recent bought of anxiety...
-I am not perfect, but I am a perfectionist.
-I am not the one in control, but I am a control freak.
-I thrive on organization, but organization should not be a hobby!
-I am driven, but I have a lot on my plate and it's ok if I don't meet my self proclaimed timeline.
-I am a homemaker at heart, but in reality, I am a full time working mommy and it's ok if I
get behind on laundry, if I have a speck of dust on my furniture, If there is a kool-aid stain
on my kitchen counter, or if I don't cook fancy dinners at night after work because choose to spend what's left of the day with my babies.
-I thrive on structure and routine, but I have a toddler and a baby. ha!
-And as I recall, I do not recall anyone even suggesting that I try to be superhuman...
totally self-imposed...and crazy I might add.
-I have had a revelation that has rocked my world. As it turns out, I am in fact NOT super woman/mom/wife/friend/teacher/daughter/homemaker/sister in law/daughter in law/aunt/granddaughter/niece/etc...shocking, I know ;)

Some of my closest friends and family already know this about me. Mike knows more about it than anyone and has been encouraging and calling me out for quite some time now. Me, my aunt, my mom, and Mike are all survivors of the wedding planning days. I remember in high school, my mom calling me out for having "make a to-do list about school" on my to-do list. It was on my night stand. She probably doesn't even remember this, but she said, "you have a to-do list to make a to-do list?" and she just gave a little chuckle. It was the first time I kind of realized how compulsive my lists were/are. The past 7ish months, I've been humoring the thought of living more freely and throwing away every single to do list that I have and just making a huge step to live with a more healthy mindset and fight back on some of my natural urges to "do". To be honest, it is very frightening, uncomfortable, challenging, emotional, and down right uncomfortable. This is the way I've functioned for years. Today, after a panic attack ON the medicine that is supposed to help me not have those and just having a very overwhelming stressful day, I decided I have had enough and that was the last bit of courage I needed to move forward. I was ready to tell Mike. And of course, he took that as the go ahead and the "intervention" began! And I did it...I handed over every list which was almost like giving him a portion of my brain! I'll never remember all of that! But it already feels better. And please don't get me wrong, I am SO incredibly happy...and I do have fun. But I should be breathing a little more deeply when I'm having fun. And I shouldn't be crossing fun dates off my to do list...get me?

I mean really, has anyone ever had everything in their house clean, every dish washed, every piece of laundry folded, every project done, groceries completely stocked in pantry, each car cleaned, every closet organized, each child bathed, bills paid, checkbook balanced, made time for family and children, accomplished everything at work, ALL at the same time? Well, I have. It's exhausting. It's really no way to live. It's not fun or freeing at all. And although I am a perfectionist and a little compulsive about some things, it's really not about having all of these things done. If I get these things done, I'll make a list of movies that I haven't seen yet that I want to catch up on. So even the fun things become "to dos". It's about anxiety. It's about looking for a way to accomplish something to bring a sense calmness, control, and security. After living like this (in defeat I might add) I have officially given up! What does it all mean anyway? It means nothing to me. It is just a way I have been foolishly feeding my anxiety to "feel better" and get some relief...however, I am not relieved haha. I have been coping thinking I'll eventually conquer all my lists and have it all together. Now I am accepting the fact that I will NEVER have it all together and I have so much more to live for so as hard as it may be, I am choosing to be ok with that. I admire all of my friends that let silly things slip their minds and can laugh at themselves or can leave a pile of dishes in the sink after a dinner date to just sit and visit.

I'm really not making fun of myself..I'm just being honest and open because I feel like if I own this, I'll have a better chance of breaking free from this life of panic attacks, anxiety, and getting back to just being me and enjoying the good life. I really am a light hearted and carefree person...but I gotta keep myself in check. I keep thinking that once I get everything checked off my list, I can officially relax. Ok it's been about 10 years now and I've learned my lesson...very slowly :) I want to be able to "roll with the punches"...I have friends that do that and it seems to be much more fun :)

So to sum it all up...I am working on the real me, lighthearted and carefree. I am giving up control and fighting my anxiety, perfectionism, and compulsiveness head on! I'm making different choices because what I'm doing now...
is is healthy? no
is it realistic? BIG FAT NO
have I let being a working mom with 2 small children stop me from trying? no
have i been successful? no
am I in a good place? no
do i give up? YES!

So this is me :) I'm pretty much an open book. And if you think mama's a little "coo coo" after reading this, just remember I made those 2 little lovelies you read about on this blog ;) And I will always be looking for ways I can be better for them.


Brooks Family said...

Proud of you! xoxoxo you crazy bad self :-)

Diana said...


you without a list???? WEIRD!