Failing Doesn't Mean I'm A Failure:
As usual I have been feeling like a failure lately. I have had very little sleep, due to our children and their issues, and there fore I have had NO patients and have been loosing my temper with the children way too often. Everything lately seems to set me off. The kids don’t want to do school, they don’t want to help with chores, they want the Ipads way too often and new therapies have been added and the list goes on. I just can’t get a handle on all that I am “supposed” to be doing as their mother.
Inevitably I spend my nights regretting my attitude and my lack of accomplishments and feeling like a complete failure as their mother and as a person in general. I do know i am not a failure and that i am doing so very much right, but it doesn’t change the fact that my Heart won’t let my minds rationalizations fix my sadness. The fact of the matter is, just knowing the answer or the problem doesn’t make the trial ANY easier to get through, sometimes it makes it even harder.
I got so tired of living in this state of anguish that I began to reevaluate what things I have added to our lives that were causing these emotional problems within myself. I started asking myself HONESTLY, “What have I done to make things worse? What things are out of my control that I am taking responsibility for that I should be letting go of? What is it that i am doing that is effecting the mood of our home in a negative way? Why am i so very hard on myself for not living up to my OWN expectations, and why can’t I cut myself ANY slack on the days when I am not able to give the 150% that my family requires?”
There was no way around it, I was turning my self into a failure when all I have done is not been perfect. I lost sight of all the things I was getting right and was focusing solely on the many things I was getting wrong. I was inevitably creating the mind set of being a complete failure and beginning to tell myself “Why am I trying so hard when I am just going to fail anyway. Why am I even trying at all if I can’t get ANYTHING right in the first place?”
I had people around me complementing me on my efforts and what I was doing. I had people asking me how I was getting it all done and not loosing my mind in the process. I even had experts in certain fields commending my efforts and telling me I indeed was doing enough and to cut myself some slack. But inside all I could think is “yeah right! i can’t do anything right. They don’t see how bad I was really failing or else they wouldn’t be saying this in the first place.” I was searching for someone to tell me how to just do more or get everything right and no one was doing that for me so i just retreated. I spent more and more time inside my head self hating and quietly despising my situation. I never despised my family or their special needs but I did begin to wonder why me way too often.
This is such an incredibly dangerous way of thinking. It began to cause depression, extensive anxiety, and a negative way of thinking that does nothing but pull me into a pit of despair that clouds my judgment and blinds me from all good that I was doing. I began to find fault in EVERYTHING, my husband, my children, my situation and especially myself. I found myself in tears over things that just weren’t supposed to be that important. I found my children shrinking in fear when my rage would come to the surface over simple mistakes any and every child makes. I was unable to get motivated to do anything, homeschool, chores, hobbies or even anything that I should have enjoyed doing.
One day I was so upset with myself for my faults that i actually considered just ending it all but then I wondered who on earth would be able to do what I do for my family. That is the day I said out loud, “Enough is enough! Stop feeling so sorry for yourself and do something about it. It is pathetic the way you are feeling so sorry for yourself.” The problem was I didn’t know what to do about it. I realized right then that if I didn’t do something to change who I was becoming I had the real possibility of loosing all I hold dear.
So I started with the basics. No one was controlling how I was thinking except for ME. I had to change the way I was thinking. I had to find something, anything that was positive about my day. Just one thing that I could turn my focus toward that would allow me to take my focus OFF of the negative things I felt swirling around me. Lets face it, there will ALWAYS be negative, it is just the nature of the beast, but there is ALWAYS something that is positive too. Even if that positive is so insanely small it would still make a difference to focus on it than to ignore it and spend what little energy I had focusing on all the negatives that seemed so very apparent at this time of my life.
When I was so very deathly sick in my youth the only positive that I could find to focus on was the fact that I woke up that day. I know how lame that sounds but there were so many days that I didn’t expect to wake up at all the next day. I would shut out the pain and anguish of the illness that I was facing and just remember that “today I woke up.” Even now there are days that I can say, “Today I got up. Today I had the energy to stand, despite the only 30 minuets of sleep I have had in the past 24hours. Today I got out of bed and gave my children the medications they so desperately needed and feed them the food they need to survive. Every once in a while or sometimes it is often that is all that i can do, and the fact that I did that much IS a positive and it means I DID NOT FAIL my children and myself that day.
After realizing that once I could start seeing that there were positives that i could focus on to push away the negative thoughts I began to see that I was NOT a failure. Just because I was not living up to my own set expectations it didn’t mean that I was a failure. Just because I failed at something or that some planned activity or project it didn’t mean I was a FAILURE. All it meant is that there was a need to reevaluate and move on. I had forgotten to LEARN from my mistakes and move FORWARD. I did soon realized that moving forward meant nothing more at times than truthfully saying to myself “well that didn’t work. I guess I won’t be doing it that way again.”
I quickly realized that I needed to do something vital for my sanity. I immediately started setting up My MUST DO lists. I new that if i could accomplish those vital things, what every they were, everyday no matter how I felt or what I was going through that I was not failing. The fact was that these were the things that kept my family and myself alive and moving and there was just NO WAY I could let them slide on any day. My lists consisted of food, shelter, medications and clean clothing for everyone. For us, these were the most important and vital things and if they were done everything else was just a bonus. Yes, I do realize that there are many many more things that “should” get done but these were the most important things for us, and i had to admit to myself that there were times that it had to be enough.
There have been many days were that is all that was accomplished. Sometimes I was ill, sometimes I had too many appointments to fit in, sometimes I just didn’t have the energy to do any more but I did make a real effort to realize that the VITAL stuff got done and today that was enough. I began to cut myself some slack on the days the nothing more could be done. I had to make a real effort to not beat up myself at the end of the day when the list of thing I didn’t accomplish kept getting longer and longer. The fact was, sometimes the MUST DO daily list just has to be enough and the rest will eventually get done. No one was gonna die if there was a mountain of laundry to fold and put away, or a garden to get planted, or homework to fit in, or even a house to be cleaned. We would survive if i couldn’t get to it all every single day.
So, I give myself permission to fail. I give myself permission to make mistakes and to think at least I tried. I give myself permission to let the little stuff go when I just don’t have the energy to do it or to fit it in. I give myself permission to enjoy my family and laugh at myself and at life as often as possible and to stop taking life and chores so seriously. I give myself permission to say, “I might not be perfect but I am doing my best everyday and that is MORE than ok.”
On the flip side, I do not give myself permission to stop trying. I do not give myself permission to be afraid of trying and failing. I do not give myself permission to trash talk my own efforts or to focus on the negative. I DO require of myself to learn from each attempt at anything and move forward each time. I give myself permission to not be perfect but to try my best each and every time, even if my best doesn’t seem like enough at the time.
I am NOT a failure just because sometimes I fail at things. My failures don’t define me! It is how I respond to them that defines me. And someday when I look back I hope I can truly say, “I am a result of the things I have learned as I overcame my Trials and Limitations that were put upon me by my peers or myself” Then I will be a success.