Meeting expectations and finding grace

This year has been hard.

I felt like I wasn’t meeting anyone’s expectations. Not my husband’s. Not my boss’s. Not my family’s. Not my staff’s. Not even the dog’s. Poor Baxter didn’t get a hike with his friends all summer.

Worst of all was feeling like I wasn’t meeting my own expectations.

I don’t think I’ve felt anything quite like that discouragement, pressure and futility.

At the end of October, I started working four days a week. This was part of my attempt to find my balance again.

I thought it would be a bit like when you know you have Friday off or when Monday’s a holiday. Yay! Short week!

Not so much.

It was still tough.

Squeezing five days of work into four has meant some long days. And at home it took awhile to find where I needed and wanted to spend my time. The second four-day work week, I felt like I had jet lag. I was trying to do everything and adjust to a new schedule. My body and brain couldn’t keep up.

I’ve learned that finding my balance is a process. And this weekend, I think I’m starting to feel that balance returning.

I had a great day at work on Thursday. I still didn’t leave the office until 2 hours after everyone else, but I felt good about where I spent my time and what I accomplished. Friday, I spent the day with my parents, and I felt like I made a difference for them. I even managed to make it home in time to squeeze in a hike with Baxter before the sun set.

Over this weekend, I’ve cooked and baked. I knit a pair of slippers. My whole house is vacuumed. Laundry is done. The rotten lumber from last week’s clean-up has been burned. The living room, dining room and kitchen are tidy. I even fit in some redecorating when I swapped out some end tables in the living room.

And, I spent time with Matt, and we actually talked and shared and helped each other. That connection with my husband is the most important thing to me. We have a phenomenal partnership, and he is there for me no matter what. One of the turning points for me over the last few months was when he said to me, “You’re sad all the time now.”

Matt knew I was struggling, but hearing that my struggles were so obvious and that I was bringing those feelings home to my husband, to my family, to my home was terrible. I never want to put those low feelings onto anyone.

Feeling like we’re in a better place is the biggest sign to me that I’m getting my balance back.

Of course, there’s always more to do. My office is only halfway tidy. I still have months of paperwork to file, and my bathroom needs to be cleaned.

But I’m trying to give myself grace. Matt, my family, my team at work, my boss have all given me grace. I have to do the same.

5 thoughts on “Meeting expectations and finding grace

  1. I’m so glad you shared this on your blog. It sounds like you are battling depression. I’ve experienced depression several times over the years, and when it gets bad enough that I am forced to see it, and if I can start sharing my pain with others, sometimes that can be a turning point. I have no idea what your stance on medication is, but I can tell you that sometimes it can help you get back a bit more resilience and start enjoying life again.
    Grace, grace and more grace! When the chips are down is usually when you least feel you deserve it, and it’s when you most need it. Be gentle with yourself. Ask for help. Take time to sit and stare into the distance.
    I came up with an analogy a couple of years ago that may suit you: I did what seemed like NOTHING for three years after a very stressful time helping my mum and dad at the ends of their lives. I was extremely hard on myself, yet couldn’t do anything to change it, despite all my plans, lists and self-flagellation. When I finally realized I had to look at it differently, I started thinking of it as a fallow season. Fields need to lie fallow every once in a while, and while it seems nothing is going on, they are replenishing on a level we can’t see, a cellular level, building back up some nutrient balance that was depleted, doing their own thing. That analogy was helpful to me in living with the fact that I did nothing (it seemed like) for such a long time.
    Lots of love to you, Julia, and it sounds like you’re doing everything you need to be doing to work with this long shadow in your life. It will get better.

    • Thanks so much for your kindness, Jan. I love the analogy of a fallow season. Some of the challenges recently have had to do with my Dad’s health, which unfortunately I can’t change. I’m trying to accept the things I cannot change–where I feel sometimes like I’m doing nothing–and change what I can to make things better for myself and those around me.

      • I’m sorry to hear about your dad. It is so painful to see our beloved parents getting older, especially when they have health issues. :*(

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