by Neal Fowler via Flickr Creative Commons

by Neal Fowler via Flickr Creative Commons

The past few weeks have been difficult.

Not only because of the election. Several members of the poly family have been going through their own crises, and I found myself in the position of trying to hold things down for everyone.

I had also just come back from my conference, however, and started a new position at my job. After doing emotional labor all day for children, doing it for adults I love as well left me feeling stretched thin. Too little butter over too much bread, as Bilbo Baggins would say.

But that’s what emergency therapy sessions are for. I’m grateful I’m at a point now that I can schedule a one-off therapy appointment when things are difficult, instead of feeling out of balance if I miss more than a week. Progress!

But in the midst of all this, I realized something. Holding Shit Together for Everyone Person (TM) is one of my defense mechanisms. It’s a pattern that’s easy to fall back into, but which is dangerous for me. It’s a way to avoid my own feelings, pushing them aside to hold space for everyone else instead. And while that’s a noble idea, I also need to hold space for myself and be honest with myself and those I care about about what my limitations are.

Ah, limitations. That word still creates bile in me, the recovering perfectionist. My inner perfectionist will always be in there, telling me I don’t have limitations, or fewer than I think, or that the ones I am trying to honor are selfish excuses. She will agree that I am tired and low on resources, but disagree about the best course of action from there. She will insist it’s in everyone’s best interests if I keep pushing myself for one more day. Which turns into another, and another, and another. She will tell me that I *can* do all the things I want to do, no matter how tired I am.

And in a certain sense, she’s right. I can ignore the voice of my inner child telling me to rest. I can abandon that inner child and force myself to keep that forward momentum going, locking my own feelings away in the process. That’s a long established pattern. I can do a lot of things passably well while not enjoying any of them and sinking deeper into exhaustion and depression until I’m forced to rest.

But I don’t want to do that anymore.

And she doesn’t like that I’m not listening.

Just like I can let my car get past 1/4 of a tank of gas, but it won’t run well and I will be unable to pick up speed on an incline, I can let my internal resources get pretty close to empty before I technically have to stop. Only just like it’s bad for my car engine to do so, it’s bad for me.

I will always have more passion, ideas, and creativity than I have the energy and means to implement. There will always be more that I want to do than I am physically, mentally, and emotionally able to accomplish. And that sucks. A lot. I hate it. I hate admitting it.

But I’d rather do a few things extremely well than fail at a lot of things. Reigning myself back in and being realistic is still an uphill battle for me. I’m learning.

But in times of great stress, my inner perfectionist will always be there, ready to take the wheel. She just doesn’t like to give it back, so I have to be careful.

This week, I’m catching up on loose ends and doing a lot of self care, so that my tank is full for the final push of the fall semester.

I can’t be everything to everyone, and that’s okay. I’m grateful that right now, no one but myself even wants me to be. I can learn to harness that drive to succeed because the work that I am doing now requires all of me, and I don’t want to burn out before I’m able to do it effectively.

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