Roughly a year ago, I was living on my own with my 10-month-old daughter, working 40 hours a week and struggling to make ends meet as a single mom by herself for the very first time. I was more overwhelmed and exhausted than I had ever been. Sometimes I would hide in the kitchen during my child’s naptime (it was the only place in our tiny studio where she wouldn’t see me and cry to get up), nested on the floor beside the refrigerator with my laptop, and try to get work done through the tears. At one point during that time I texted some dear friends that I wasn’t sure I could do this. I was trying my hardest, but was my child suffering because I was overwhelmed?
Around this same time, Spokane had its first snowfall of the year, and I used Facebook to let my yoga students know I had to cancel the 6am class because I wasn’t confident driving over the bridge in the fresh snow in the dark hours with my infant in the back seat.
A woman in the Facebook group (who was not one of my students) commented: “Will you ever drive in the snow? It must be nice to be able to cancel your job when you don’t feel like driving in.”
It must be nice.
I didn’t reply to her. I couldn’t have. My reply would have been a screaming, crying, shaking response.
IT MUST BE NICE?? YOU KNOW WHAT MUST BE *REALLY* NICE? HAVING A SPOUSE TO HELP PICK UP THE SLACK WHEN YOU’RE UNDERWATER. IT MUST BE *REALLY* NICE TO HAVE A JOB THAT PAYS ENOUGH FOR DAY CARE. IT MUST BE *REALLY* NICE TO NOT BE THE SOLE BREADWINNER IN YOUR HOME. IT MUST BE *REALLY* NICE TO NOT HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN YOUR CHILD’S SAFETY AND A HUGE CHUNK OF YOUR MONTHLY INCOME. IT MUST BE *REALLY* NICE TO HAVE DOORS IN YOUR HOME YOU CAN CLOSE WHEN YOU NEED A BREAK. IT MUST BE NICE TO BE YOU, JUDGEMENTAL WOMAN WHO KNOWS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT MY LIFE.
Yeah, see? That’s why I didn’t reply then.
But the reality was even darker, and I couldn’t see it then. The truth, ultimately, was that I was making my life harder than it needed to be.
I had people who would have helped more with Molly if I had let them. I had access to government subsidies that could pay for her childcare, or help me supplement my income so cancelling a class wasn’t so devestating.
But for some reason, I had this idea in my head that I wasn’t worthy of help unless I broke myself first. It was the same mindset that caused me to take on full-time work my freshman year of college, on top of 18 semester credits, two outreach ministries, two plays, and a volunteer position at the local church. It was the same mindset that caused me to work 70 hours a week through my senior year of high school. (Spoiler alert: both of those situations caused breakdowns too.)
I keep making judgements about when I deserve help, or a break, and I keep missing the mark dramatically.
So then what is there to do? I have to tell everyone how busy/exhausted/overwhelmed I am all the time. I have to let everyone in my life know how hard I have it, so they don’t judge me when I fail or rest.
Seriously, it’s messed up.
Note to self: You don’t have to have it harder than everyone else. You don’t have to work more hours. You don’t have to be alone. Take a break when you need one. Ask for help. Breathe. You are not less for letting others lighten the load.