Always something

I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember: a bit of a stresscase.

I tend to carry around a little list in my head of all the things that are currently uncomfortable or overwhelming. All the to-do’s that need to get checked off before I can relax. All the things I want to accomplish but can’t quite ever get to.

Today, I caught myself feeling that way. There have been so many big and small challenges and changes and check-off lists that my brain and heart feel like they’ve been tossed headlong into the deep end.

And boy have I been paddling hard.

— Our family MRSA adventure swallowed our January in a fog of worry and Lysol and antibiotics and doctor visits. I think we’re still about a month from everyone being back to normal.

— Our sweet nanny gave us a heads up that she was looking for full time work.

— The same pelvic joint pain that plagued me for a year after Fey’s birth came raging back 2 weeks ago and I’m limping and wincing my way around the house.

— A’s almost out of speech visits at the therapy center and his therapist feels he’s at about 85% and ready to work with us at home now anyway. I’m glad he’s made such good progress but I don’t feel ready.

— We have a baby on the way in May and I’m trying to work ahead on all my work projects to give myself an actual maternity leave.

— God in heaven, we’re trying to potty train our strong-willed two-year-old. Trying and kind of failing, I fear.

— We have a baby on the way in May. There will be THREE OF THEM.

— Our sweet nanny told us last night that she’s found full time work. I tried not to cry and instead went and ate my feelings for a little while.

— I’m wondering if I’ve been eating my feelings too much: I did a blood glucose test (for gestational diabetes) that I never remotely considered would come back weird, and it came back 2 points too high, and tomorrow I’ll spend most of my precious office hours at the lab getting poked 4 times.

I feel it creeping up in my head, “Ugh. Always SOMEthing.”

I start flailing. Stressing out. Making everything a little worse, frankly.

***

When J and I got married, our friend Dan urged us to try to sort things into two categories: problems or challenges between us (as in, how we’re communicating or how we’re taking care of each other), and stuff coming at us from outside our little unit (financial challenges, in-laws, health crises, career frustrations, bumps in friendships). We were encouraged to deal with the stuff that causes disharmony between us, but to also try to recognize that all the external stuff isn’t evidence of how well our marriage is doing. That stuff will always be there. Each challenge is just another chance to be in each other’s corner.

Team Lawlis vs. the world: it’s a motto that’s served us well.

Eight years in, I’d be straight up lying through my teeth to say that we’ve never had those between-us issues. We have.

But for whatever reason, that internal-external perspective has really helped us. By and large, I tend to feel like I struck it GOLD in terms of the man I married.

Most of the tough stuff feels like external stuff. Nothing’s wrong, we’re just not in control.

***

I’ve been much better at applying this perspective to my marriage than to how I feel about my day-to-day life. If I’m rose-colored-glasses about my partner (um, I SO am), I’m admittedly a little pessimistic about the frustrations of daily life. I’m sensitive, so if I’m not watching myself, every little thing feels like “always something.”

It’s a sentiment that betrays my underlying belief that this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. That if I were managing my life better, it would all look calmer somehow. This chaotic feeling? It’s a failure on my part.

Today I remembered something my therapist said to me last year, and the moment it entered my little brain I felt my shoulders drop from right around my ears to a more normal position.

This isn’t a sign that I need to fix things. Nothing is broken.

This is life. It’s always been full of hassles and mishaps and never-ending piles of laundry and undone house projects and minor health freakouts.

Nothing is broken.

I’m just not in control.

I never was.

And all this crazy is a sign that we’re lucky.

We have full lives. We have demanding, gorgeous, hilarious children. We have minor health stuff right now — that hasn’t always been the case and it won’t always be.

We have each other, and that’s no small thing.

I was looking for some clever and sarcastic “always something” image to pair with these rambly thoughts, and I kid you not, this is what popped up:

A1_ThereIsAwalys

The message was not lost on me. I’m working on changing the gist of that “always something.” I bought a little notebook in early January with the sole purpose of writing down three things each day that I’m thankful for. It’s probably time I dust it off and get to listing them off.

Not so I can pretend that everything’s fine or that the hard things aren’t hard. Not so I can start burying my feelings and faking it.

I just want to remind myself how much good stuff is right there in the midst of all that crazy.

If you’ve been feeling like it’s just one thing after another (and to be fair, maybe it has been) — maybe grab yourself a little gratitude journal and join me?

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