A Moment of Seeing Myself More Clearly

IMG_8504We helped our friends move this weekend. Well, Jared did most of the helping, but I washed a few dishes and packed up a couple of boxes. That counts.

But this isn’t about who did what. This is about seeing myself just a little more clearly.

When I walked into my friend’s old house, I understood the text she’d sent me earlier. “I’m so overwhelmed,” she’d said, and I could see why. Much of the big stuff had been taken care of, but the little things that make moving such a pain in the butt combined to become one big thing of their own. It seemed there was still so, so much to do.

“I can see why she was overwhelmed,” I said to my friend’s husband.

“It’s not that bad,” he said. “She’s been overwhelmed all week. I did most of the packing, doing just a little bit every night when I came home. She’s always been the one to handle everything when we’ve moved before, but this time it was mostly me.”

“Wow, that sounds like me,” I said. “When I get overwhelmed, I watch Netflix. Jared comes home and asks what I’m doing and I tell him I’m overwhelmed and doing nothing – and then he does laundry or something.”

“Yep, that’s what happens here. She shuts down when she gets overwhelmed.”

And he wasn’t complaining. He wasn’t gossiping about his wife or talking about her faults. He was just telling me a little more about this woman he so clearly adores, and how he knows her. How he sees her.

“We’re both really lucky,” I told him. “It’s pretty amazing to have a husband who understands when you need to shut down and is OK with picking up the slack in the meantime.”

He shrugged. I don’t remember exactly what he said next – something about just being married and the ways in which she steps up for him – but I remember clearly his complete acceptance and love.

I went back to wrapping up the last of their dishes, and I thought about how I shut down for a bit when I’m stressed out by all there is to do. Instead of tackling the mountain methodically, I retreat to my cave and try not to think about the mountain existing. Eventually I come out, of course, and I do what needs to be done. But I very often collapse under the weight of it all first.

I always thought it was just me.

I thought it meant I was lazy or weak or just different from everyone else somehow.

But it’s not just me, and knowing that made it easier to see myself more clearly and to be a little more OK with this tendency of mine.

I always felt guilty that Jared tolerated these moments of weakness and lack of productivity. I hesitated to believe him when he said it was fine and that he understood.

But in seeing my friend’s husband love and accept her, I could see my own husband’s love and acceptance of me more clearly.

I love these moments of self discovery. I love when recognizing ourselves in someone else leads to feeling better about who we are. I love that quiet peace that comes from a sliver more of acceptance. I love knowing that I am seen and that, like my friend, I am loved completely.

Do you know how you respond to being overwhelmed? Are you OK with that part of you?

Get More Inspiration & Encouragement

Sign up to get my weekly(ish) email with personal stories, practical tips & links to recent blog posts. You'll also have access to exclusive discounts on products & events and a handful of freebies I've made just for you.

I save my best stuff for subscribers! Join us.

Your email will never be sold or shared, because I aspire to not be a jerk.

  1. eggplant43 says:

    Lovely insight.

  2. Megan says:

    I don’t shut down, but I tend to just make sure the big stuff gets handled and either put off the smaller stuff or dump it all together.

    It’s wonderful to be in a relationship where you have each other’s back. Seems to me that this is exactly the point of coupling. :)
    Megan’s most recent post: Fifty-Two, Week 46: Stop & Go

  3. Lisa says:

    I know this is going to come out wrong, but it takes a LOT to overwhelm me. I know this because of the last couple of years. When I did get to the point of overwhelmed, I stuck to basic functions like having food in the house and gas in the car, and showering pretty much daily, and then I set as much on autopilot as I could (autopay keeps the lights on!). Getting things done, creating order out of chaos, is what keeps me going in rough times, so I’m usually the Jared in that scenario.
    Lisa’s most recent post: This Isn’t Pink Floyd’s Wall

    • Miss Britt says:

      Doesn’t come out wrong at all – and it doesn’t surprise me since we already know you’re the Jared in your relationship. :-)

      I envy that in the two of you. I’m also really, really glad that people like you exist, or the world would just fall the hell apart!

  4. Julie says:

    When I get overwhelmed, I make lists. Somehow the lists calm me down and I can see clearly what needs to be done even if I know I can’t possibly get it all done. Oddly enough, I’ve been making lists since I learned to write. I guess that is my coping mechanism.
    Julie’s most recent post: Oh Monday

  5. Sheila says:

    I shut down too.

    I do the very, very, very bare minimum – i.e. make sure the kids are fed and entertained in some way – and the rest of it can kiss my lazy butt.

    Then, one day I wake up and I’m like “Okay – I got this.” And I get it done.

    My husband is a “Jared” too. He does what he can to keep things from getting too disgusting around here and then, when I’m ready to get moving, he helps me on my whirlwind “Git R Done” routine and reminds me to slow down and take breaks….otherwise, I’ll just wind up exhausted and the cycle will repeat itself.
    Sheila’s most recent post: Burning Bridges

  6. Poppy says:

    I do what you do, I just cannot function how I need to function. I need to take a while to process that I’m overwhelmed. Telling Dave that I’m overwhelmed helps me come out of it. And, like Jared, he always helps out with what is overwhelming me. Thank goodness for great partners.
    Poppy’s most recent post: &co

  7. You aren’t alone. I tend to shut down more emotionally but I totally get it!

  8. Actually I also sometimes hyper focus on something when overwhelmed, usually not what is overwhelming me.
    Corey Feldman’s most recent post: Tie a bloody knot

  9. Jen Anderson says:

    Totally not just you. The cousin of a friend of mine took to her bed for weeks after their ceiling collapsed–right after a major renovation.
    Jen Anderson’s most recent post: I Surrender

  10. Theresa says:

    I have been trying to not use the word overwhelmed to describe how I am feeling when something daunting comes up. Seems to me that when I say I am overwhelmed that it kind of gives me permission to let things go or to make an excuse…don’t know how healthy it is to trick myself out of feeling overwhelmed, but whateves it works:).
    Theresa’s most recent post: battles.

  11. natalie says:

    I start doing what I call “Mindless Busyness”…organizing recipes by theme and placing them in sheet protectors and then in labeled binders, cutting images from a magazine and gluing them into composition books, or creating 3-ring binders for dozens of embroidery patterns, sorted by theme. I tackle these odd projects that have zero importance and could be done at any time but for some reason when I’m overwhelmed, those are the types of stuff I gravitate towards.
    natalie’s most recent post: First and Last

  12. Oh wow. I thought it was just me, too. Like this morning: I’ve got so much to do, yet I’m paralyzed, scrolling through Google Reader, looking for the answer. Sometimes I just need to hide.

    I’m not sure if Mike knows that—I didn’t even fully realize it myself until reading this—but he’s always been my rock.
    Elizabeth Barone’s most recent post: Affordable Author and Writing Services

  13. Naomi says:

    I totally respond to overwhelming situations with a 100% GSD attitude. An “all or nothing” force with a cowgirl whoop added in. Then I crash. I need to work on a more “sit down and ignore it” response. BUT the Husb and I tend to balance each other out … we also know which things the other is best at handling and are getting better about not stepping on toes/boundaries. Great post!
    Naomi’s most recent post: Typing without edits.

  14. Darla says:

    Yup!!! If I don’t keep moving moving moving to the point of exhaustion until the project is complete, I become overwhelmed and shut down. I’m an extremist. My husband steps right in and fills in the gaps without so much of a heavy sigh. So very grateful.

  15. John says:

    I tend to retreat into my circle of comfort while my mind is going in all directions on how to solve the problem. Then I regroup and attack !!!

« « An Update on My Book About Happiness | Why Gratitude Isn’t Making You Happy… Yet » »