I am afraid to shrug my shoulders see, for the weight of the world rests there and I am afraid of causing another catastrophe.
Do you ever feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and that one wrong move will tip the balancing act causing it to all come crashing down? Do you sometimes wish you could set the burden down and rest a bit or let someone else carry it for a while? You continue on each and every day hoping that with each step your load will lessen some. In reality though, it never really seems to. In fact, more and more seems to get added to it until you are not sure if you can even stand, let alone walk with it any more. But, somehow you do and you find the strength you need, from some part of you that even you didn't know existed. It amazes me the strength that one can find. Even when exhaustion, stress and the burdens of life make it feel impossible to continue on. But continue on you do. Day in and day out. What other option is there really? Give up? Not in my world.
Life can be exhausting. Stress builds up. More responsibilities are added to your already sagging shoulders. Things do not go as planned. Something breaks. Someone gets sick. So many things seem to come at once and we are forced to shoulder it. Shoulder it, work through it and try not to collapse. Sometimes our load gets so heavy and without an end in sight, feels like it will crush us with each passing moment. Thinking to ourselves that at some point, enough has to be enough. Right? There has to be a stretch of time where everything magically goes right. A moment when everything fits into place and the world revolves without us having to do anything.
As I sit here writing this in a few stolen moments in my day, I sigh. Just the thought of a stretch of time, with no stress or drama, nothing to handle, deal with or get through - makes me smile. Well smile and shake my head knowing a day dream when I see it. Or maybe not. Maybe there is a way, to once in a while set your load down, catch your breath and just be. A way to get life to leave you alone for a while. Allowing you to decompress and put your own head and thoughts in order. If you allow yourself to be drained, emotionally exhausted, and stressed to the max all the time, and you keep putting aside your need for a break, day-after-day to handle everything for everyone else, you will eventually collapse. Do it for months on end, even years, until that one day suddenly arrives when you just can't shoulder that load anymore and you know what will happen? You will begin to resent everything. You will feel taken advantage of, burdened and hopeless. Do not focus on your needs and no one but you will suffer the consequences.
You have to put it down for a while or else it will crush you. Setting down your burdens, releasing your stress for a moment is not a sign of weakness. It is the epitome of true strength.
We all have to realize - we are human.
We cannot be expected to handle everything all of the time without some break. We have to learn and teach ourselves to set the load down once and a while. Allowing us time to turn our attention inward and focus on our needs. We have to hold our hand up and say stop. Stop the drama. Stop the stress. Stop going around in circles. Life is too short. If we don't look up once in a while - we will miss it. We will miss it while we are fixing everything and anything but ourselves.
I swear I can hear some of you right now, sighing and saying to yourself – never going to happen. Just not possible. There are things to do. Kids to feed. A sick loved one that needs care. Bills to be paid. Houses to clean. Work to get to. If I stop and take some time for myself – the world will end. So what if I am exhausted? So what if I am unhappy? Just because I am stressed, doesn’t give me license to be selfish. I have responsibilities. Things I have no choice but to take on and place on my shoulders with everything else. No one else will do it. No one ever does. It is all up to me.
Stop being a damn martyr.
I want you, right now, to do something. I want you to honestly examine all the stress, responsibilities and “life” you have currently piled on your shoulders. Really look at it. Take the blinders off and actually see it all clearly. Now, answer me this… How much of this is actually your burden? How much of it belongs to someone else who should be the one taking care of it?
The older I get the more I realize - I tend to pick up a lot that is not mine. Be it at home, work or when it comes to family and friends. I will see something that needs doing, handling or figuring out and not see anyone claiming it. So I do. I think because growing up everything was always my responsibility. Well, in hindsight it really wasn’t, but that is what I was conditioned to accept. Everyone else’s happiness was on me. If that meant taking care of things they should have been taking care of, then that is what I did. So much so, that I have incorporated it into my adult self. Instead of leaving things that were never mine to begin with, or doing things that someone else should be doing – I take care of it. I add it to the growing pile on my shoulders, even when I am almost to my knees by the sheer weight of the burden.
I have learned though a few lessons over the past couple of years.
The first lesson – The world will not end if I take a mental health day. A day where the only thing I focus on is, me. Ok, maybe not a whole day but at least part of a day. The second lesson – Breaking down the burden into manageable bits helps tremendously. I can multi task with the best of them but in doing so, overwhelm myself more often than not. So, I tackle the bigger things one at a time. If it is something I can take care of and be done with it, I do. If it is something that requires more attention, I give it the attention is requires and then be done with it. The third lesson – Holding others accountable for things they should be dealing with. You can’t expect someone to face something, deal with something or accept responsibility for something if you are always taking care of it for them. Allow them to be responsible. And understand that it is their choice to do it or not. Not yours. Let it go. The fourth lesson – Finish each day and be done with it. Set it down and know that you did your best for the day. Give yourself a break. Release it for the night. Light a candle and pretend that all of your burdens live in the flame. Say your peace for what happened today – then blow the candle out. You can rekindle your flame and pick it all back up tomorrow. But for the night time moment – let it go.
I wish for you strength to continue on and the knowledge that while it is hard now, over time you will lose that weight on your shoulders and be free. Just remember, you are strong enough, smart enough, and tough enough. And know that setting that load down for a while, to catch your breath, is not weakness. It is a sign that you value yourself enough to rest for a while. It is a sign of true strength. The world will not shift off its axis, the sky will not come falling down - I promise. It will all be there to pick back up when you are ready, but, only when you are ready. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. Pieces will eventually fall into place and your hard work; your perseverance will pay off. You will be free and you will be ready to take on the world.
Deep Breath, you got this.
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