Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Battling the Guilt

I have this problem. I am certain I got it from my mother. I have an addiction to guilt. It's true! I just cannot get enough! I find myself wallowing in self-pity and self-imposed guilt on a daily basis. This is something I have battled for YEARS, and I thought I was getting better. Maybe I was. Not now, though.

I am pregnant, and I am super excited about this. We tried for a while and I had a few miscarriages before I felt comfortable enough to tell family and friends. I wasn't going to blatantly announce it, but the truth is, I am showing, and I am miserable, and that makes it hard to hide. We are very excited! We really are!

That being said. . . I am struggling. See, before I got pregnant I had things around here DOWN! I was awesome. 2 hours of writing. 1 hour of teaching Emma. The house was clean and a dinner was made before Ross got home from work. I played with my children, and nurtured my marriage and even made a moderate income in my spare time. I took pictures and scrapped them faithfully. I was teaching 10 adorable children every Sunday and never once asked to be released even though the inundation of child interaction was weakening my resolve to even show up to church. I was organized, and on top of things!

In short, I was pretty happy with myself.

Not so much now. My house is not clean. I have not cooked once this week. There are stacks of laundry, I am behind with my work, and I have yet to get on here and blog the cute pictures from Halloween or write about my new and exciting calling. I just barely finished cleaning 3 days' worth of dishes, and the water is still sitting in the tub from the girls' bath this morning. I haven't vaccuumed in 2 days, and my bed has not been properly made in over a week- mostly because I rarely leave my bed when I am home.

I have reasons for this- I am pregnant. I am sick and constantly dizzy. My emotional state has been rather fragile and I hurt. A lot. As my first OB once said, "This body wasn't really made to tolerate pregnancy very well." Not a very tactful statement- but oh so true. My back hurts, and the pain of my stretching stomach is awful. I get migraines at the drop of a hat, and I just feel generally icky.

Add to all of that the guilt I feel as failing as a wife and mother right now, and you have the recipe for a perfect meltdown of tears, over-exurtion, and running mascara.

Now, before I get inundated with angry comments, let me say that yes, I know. I am not failing. I am doing what I can. My children are happy and fairly healthy (they are both a little sick at the moment). They get food, love, and encouragement. My priority is keeping myself healthy and focussing on NOT losing this one.

The problem is, that the little guilt addict inside me keeps reminding me of the happy and put together woman I was 13 weeks ago. This weakened version of me is still trying to keep up with that one, and it just is not happening. Welcome, guilt! I hate looking around at my cluttered floor and the piles of laundry knowing that I just can't do that today. I can't fix it. I can make myself, sure, but that will land me back in my bed in a ball of pain and tears.

My Choice:

I had a little chat with Heavenly Father while I was in the shower yesterday. (We chat there a lot!) I spent a few minutes apologizing for my weaknesses and being such a bad wife (I could hear Ross putting a load of laundry in the washer for me. . .he shouldn't have to do that. . .) and He asked me what it was I really thought being a good wife meant. I thought about that. It was a good question. What I finally came down to was that being a good wife meant making my husband happy. Simple, but true. Then He asked me what made Ross the most happy. I thought deeply about this- it was another VERY good question (He is good at that!). I realized that the happiest I had seen him over these last weeks had been when we were together and happy- whether we were chatting, watching a movie, or just snuggling before he fell asleep. Those moments usually happened on the days I had given in to my weakness and allowed the house to be messy, the dishes to pile up, and the food to be bought, re-heated, or dumped out of a can (chille and cornbread has been a weekly event).

They were NOT on the days I pushed myself too hard. They were NOT on the days when the house was clean, and I was too exhausted to leave the house. They were NOT on the days when a good meal was prepared by me, and the floors were vaccuumed. In short, they were NOT on the days when I tried to match up with my previous non-pregnant self.

My choice right now, then, is simple. I can have the appearance of my version of a happy home, or I can be a happy person and make my husband happy.

I can let Ross do the vaccuuming (seriously, why is vaccuuming so exhausting?), or I can spend our rare time together in a haze of medicated comfort.

I can try to keep up with 13 weeks ago Amanda, or I can figure out how to balance where I am at now and what I CAN do now.

I cannot do it all anymore. I cannot be that wife, mother, and super-hero. I CAN feed my children, and get those dishes into the sink and possibly the dishwasher (if it has been unloaded). I CAN put clean laundry in a pile on the bed and tell Ross how hot he is while he puts it away. I CAN tolerate crumbs on the floor, dishes in the sink, and knots in the girls' hair- for now. Not forever, but just for a few more weeks until I can function at a higher level.

I hate admitting that. I do. It is not really me- but this right here is not really me- not permanently at least. To some of you who are the super-moms I strive to be (Carrie, Penny, Brittany. . .) This may sound a tad pathetic. Maybe it is.

This is me trying to bury my spiritual weapon (guess where we are reading from in the BOM. . .) of guilt. This is me trying to be better. This is me sacrificing some things that are very important to me in hopes of better serving those that are most important to me. This is me posting something intensely personal thinking that maybe putting it public will help me stick to it, and possibly help someone else.

My friend and hero Maria recently posted on her blog a very personal account of her struggle with depression. For some reason, I feel the need to follow suit. I feel that purging myself of the secrecy of this personal struggle will not only help me deal with healing from the wounds that guilt has caused, but maybe show others that this is not an uncommon affliction.

I know some of you will disagree with the appropriateness of this, and if you are one of them, let me just say that if you say something mean to me, I will cry and it will be your fault! :)


Sarah Schroeder said...

Aw, Amanda, I'm so sorry. From the sound of it I do a third of what you would normally to in a day in a week. I wish you didn't feel guilty.

Congratulations, though! I thought that's what you might have not been saying in that post a few weeks back. Poor girl. I wish I could make you feel better.

Michelle and Dan said...

Amanda, i feel the same way. My house is in utter ruins and I have blinding migraine by the end of the work day.

I am praying for you to feel better. Pregnancy is no fun at all. I'm constantly uncomfortable. I do not like it, but with that said, I am super excited to start this new chapter in my life. Just as you are.

I love you so much and you are indeed a great and beautiful friend in my life.

Whalie said...

You are a smart lady.

Tracie said...

I definitely understand. I'm not pregnant anymore but I'm definitely having a hard time with postpartum Tracie. My house hasn't been clean in ages. I look like a mess most days. I have been really struggling to be a mom, and I feel SO inadequate seeing all of my friends do a much better job. I finally admitted to myself that I'm suffering from PPD and I can't just "get over it" by myself. So I'm finally going to get some help.

I think it's great that you're being honest with yourself and letting yourself be. :)

Heidi Ferguson said...

The way you described your life right now is almost exactly how I felt about a month or two ago. I used to be so super productive, after finally getting the perfect grasp on handling my life and myself (which after having my first kid took a really long time.) And then bam, days later I am spending way too much money on take-out, forcing my family to eat garbage and basically live in a dump all while I laid around on the couch?? Who wouldn't feel guilty about that? But having another baby has brought my husband and I even closer than we've ever been lately and now that the horrid first trimester is over (hopefully you will improve a little!) I am probably happier than I've ever been. And is it because I have the capability of cleaning my house again? Not so much. More because I appreciate how my husband handled my pregnancy so far and just the overwhelming feelings of love that has brought to me.

I'm so sorry that you really are having a rough time though, it can seriously be so hard!!

emi-jo said...

i'm not married, pregnant, or ever had any children,

however, from what i've read here and with years of helping loved struggle with depression and other emotional problems/addictions, i'd say you and Heavenly Father make a pretty dinamic duo.
being able to have a couseling session with Him (be it in or out of the shower!) and discover so much about yourself and where to look for the steps towards better balance, acceptance, and peace is what we are here to learn! :)
there's nothing more important - and from the looks of it, you are doing an amazing job at that.

love love love love LOVE you and your wonderful family! :)

emi-jo said...

(and when i wrote "helping loved" i meant, "helping loved ones" ...oops! ;) lol)

Em said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you for feeling/acting this way. I'm in the same boat. Pregnancy gets harder and harder each time. Let your girls help you with some of the chores around the house, and make your bedroom the play room if you have to. there are a lot of things that they can do that are fun in bed with you. make forts, watch shows, read books, color etc. Take care of yourself first, and do what you can for others when you can.

Holly E. said...

I know exactly how you feel! Pregnancy is really miserable, especially in the winter months.
Last year when I was pregnant with Josh, I was SOOO depressed and felt guilty about everything.
I didn't have morning sickness but I was always exhausted and overwhelmed with everything.
All I wanted to do was lay on the couch while the girls watched tv. We watched it for hours and hours and I always felt bad about it, but I was not up to doing anything else.
My house was a wreck, I was lucky if I got the laundry washed, let alone folded or put away.
I felt like I wasn't spending quality time with my kids or being a good wife.

I'd feel better every time I remembered that I wasn't just "being lazy" or "neglectful". I was working on growing a person, and that seriously takes a lot out of you, especially when you are sick on top of that.
I did love being pregnant for the most part, and was definitely excited and greatful to be having another baby, but it really is hard work, especially with each pregnancy and you have children to take care of on top of the pregnancy. I was and am glad that pregnancy is a temporary state.

You don't need to be impressing anyone with the way your house looks or how fancy your dinners are. You take care of you and the girls, the rest is not important and can wait.

I hope you are feeling better soon! Pregnancy is really, truely rough! HUGS!