Lately, I’ve felt like a damn sponge that has been twisted to death, wrung out too many times, and has pieces of itself falling off and swirling down the drain.
My friends and family tell me it’s a sign I need to take more time for me. I need to “get away from it all.” Perhaps I should pack my bags, travel alone for a while. Take a break. Blow off work and leave my kids with their dad for a few weeks and find myself again.
I know I could do those things. Maybe it would make a big difference and I wouldn’t feel like a moldy hunk of cellulose. Maybe I should just “get away from it all” for a bit. But then I think, What if I get sick? What if I need surgery? What if the roof caves in or the basement floods or termites eat their way into my house and I need to take care of it?
I don’t need to find myself. I know who I am and what my role is right now. I am a woman who wears many hats and talks about being tired and stumbling quite a bit, but I’m fine. I really am. I have a lot of jobs to do, and I’m going to fucking do them.
I simply cannot take time for me because it is all me. Yes, my kids go see their father — he is a wonderful person and adores them so I don’t worry about much when they are in his care. I am not a true single parent as many people have told me; I am a co-parent so I have that going for me. I should take advantage of the fact that my kids’ father would love to spend a week with them.
But that doesn’t take away the weight I carry around with me, the one that makes me feel like I’m walking through quicksand. My name is the only name on the mortgage. If I don’t show up for work, there is no second income coming in to assist with expenses. If I’m having a shitty day, there’s no emotional support available. If I’m sick, there’s no one bringing home ginger ale and saltines and taking care of dinner and telling me to go to bed early.
All the wheels must keep turning. And guess who needs energy to keep them spinning? Me. I am the turner and if I stop, everything else will stop and I will worry even more than I do now. I can’t afford to worry any more than I do now, so I keep going.
When I’m with my kids, I want to be all in. I don’t see them as much as I used to and it feels so unnatural to me. When they are with me, I want to savor it, eat them up, and do right by them.
Taking off by myself to decompress for a week feels selfish to me, even though I know it’s not. I know they will be fine, and probably kick me out the door, but my anxiety about not being enough during the hours I see them, much less cutting them short, makes me feel inadequate. I know it’s not the truth. I know it, and yet I can’t relax into the thought of slowing down enough to actually do it.
If I take time off work, I’m afraid I’ll lose ground and never pick back up where I left off. I work when I’m sick, I work when my kids are sick. I rush home after a game to meet a deadline. I work when I go away for the weekend. Again, gotta keep it spinning for fear everything will get rusty in a few hours and stop.
It’s easy for people who are partnered to lecture others about taking some time off and getting a day or two to yourself to regroup, but I literally am not in the emotional place to do that. Being a single, divorced mother with three kids has its precious moments for sure. But it’s also one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I don’t just have double the worries I used to, my stress level has quadrupled. And the best way for me to stay on top of it right now is to delve into my life and keep trying to manage it all.
If I take time for me, it all has to be scheduled. It’s literally an hour at a time because that is all I can afford right now. I don’t know how to do it any other way. And honestly, at this point in time, that little getaway so many people are suggesting I take because they can see me white knuckling my way through life right now would probably be lost on me.
Right now, I need to be all in. And that means I don’t feel like I can just relax, or slow down, or take off for a week to a tropical island and have hot sex with a stranger while sipping an alcoholic slushie by turquoise waters.
I hope to get there some day, but for now, I need more practice on running my life as a divorced, working, mother of three before I can allow such luxuries to happen.
There’s no slowing down in my life right now and probably won’t be for a while. I’m not here to complain, I would have it no other way right now. This is what I need to be doing and I know the day will come when my kids don’t live here any more. Maybe I can slow down then.
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