From Type A to Type Ahh

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World – Ghandi

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Overwhelm, Guilt and the Perfectionist

to-do-list-390x259As I have mentioned recently, I have a lot going on in my life.  My best friend who does not have any immediate family is battling colon cancer, I am interviewing for and preparing for a new role at work, I care for my mother and elderly aunt with health issues, I volunteer and lead my regular life.  On Tuesday most of these things came to a head for me.

I was returning from my friends oncologist appointment with her, my mother was on the phone crying because her eye surgery was being pushed back two days and she has been waiting for over a month for her physician to send a referral.  For some reason my usually on top of it staff decided Tuesday was a great day to have a complete meltdown.  My 18-year-old cat spent the morning vomiting and hiding behind the bed.  None of these are good signs in an 18 year old cat.  My other cat Pablo had to go off his hyper thyroid meds on Monday to prepare for his I131 treatment in October.  To say I was feeling a little overwhelmed is an understatement.

For all those perfectionists or recovering perfectionists, you know overwhelm has a close companion, guilt.  As my mother cried and told me her surgeries would now be on the two next consecutive Fridays I had only one thought: we coach run club on Friday.  I would now have to bail on my husband and leave him to coach the kids alone.

Fortunately I have a great partner and as son as I got home he could see that I was at the end of my rope.  I immediately started apologizing that I would not be able to be at run club.  Only later when I got some much-needed perspective did I realize I don’t need to apologize.  The truth is on the life priority list mom’s eye surgery I obviously a priority.  My not so perfectionist husband realized this right away.  I also had a fleeting thought maybe that is also why he does not get as overwhelmed.

It is not that some people don’t ever face multiple competing priorities and stressors, I you don’t have the added pressure that you must rise to meet every obligation without fail, flaw or assistance you add a level of overwhelm that makes difficulties more difficult.  I have been trying to improve this.  So to combat my mounting overwhelm I looked at my schedule.  My mother’s appointment was Friday afternoon.  Normally I would have gone in to work at 6:30 AM worked until I needed to pick her up.  This time I put in for sick leave for the whole day.  I spent the morning ding my errands I had been neglecting, scheduling my doctor’s appointments for routine care, cleaning my filthy house that was a constant reminder that I was falling apart.  Picked up my cats meds and basically slowed down for a bit.  I can tell you that as we sat at the eye doctor waiting for an additional 2 hours I was content and able to assure my mother.  If I had not found some personal breathing room and acceptance of my less than perfect performance it would have been a far more painful day for both of us.