Wishing My Life Away

by anon
(anywhere but here)

Anon's Question:

I recently found myself looking at the calendar on my desk counting the next days until I didn't have to go to work, take the kids to school or dance lessons, or go to any football or basketball games- wishing for that day to arrive more quickly than it appeared on my calendar. I then had the mildly upsetting thought come from out of nowhere- I have been wishing my life away. I have wished away the better part of the past five or six years of my life and I feel incredibly sad. I spend my time wishing for the day to be over, wishing for the school year to start, wishing for it to end, wishing for the next holiday, wishing for the weekend, wishing to win the lottery, and wishing to run away on some days. What can I do?

Answer:

Hi. Thank you for your contribution.

When I read about your concern, it left me feeling a little bit tired. It really sounds like you are running around a lot and have very little free time. If that is indeed the case, I would suspect that you are suffering from burnout and that you may want to cut back on some of your commitments. The classic signs and symptoms of burnout are:

•You feel physically and emotionally exhausted most of the time
•You can’t get a good night’s sleep
•You have trouble getting out of bed,you call in sick to work more often
•You find any excuse to skip work, go in late, or leave early
•You are overwhelmed with mind numbing activities or bored to death
•You feel like the work you do is not appreciated
•You feel helpless, hopeless, defeated, or trapped
•You feel depressed, sad, lonely
•You feel like things are out of control.

Take a good look at your daily routine. Where can you cut back or delegate? Are your kids involved in too many activities? Do you feel like you have to do it all? You did not say how old your kids are or how many you have. Are you responsible alone for getting them all to their various practices and afterschool activities? Is there a way that you can car pool with someone else in the neighborhood or at school to make your life easier?

For a period of time in my life, I felt like I had to be the one that took my kids to practice- that parents should be responsible for their kids and not have to rely on anyone else. That was crazy thinking. I don’t know where it came from. I guess I felt guilty because I wanted to do it all and couldn’t. I looked back on my youth and did not suffer because I was in a carpool. Instead, it created more connections and opportunities for socialization. Is your husband involved? If not, is there a way to get him involved so that the burden does not all fall on you?

Work on changing your mindset that you have to do everything yourself. That is one of the major factors that results in burnout at home. You don’t have to control everything. It is okay if the house is messy, the kids eat cereal for dinner, and they go to school with messy hair. They will survive and so will you.

You don’t mention much about work, other than sitting their glancing at the calendar. Have there been recent changes at your work? If you have been doing the same work for a long period of time, maybe it is time to look for a change. Perhaps start by asking for an updated job description or asking for some new duties or projects to work on. Be proactive. Things won’t change if you just keep sitting at your desk.

Take some time off so that you can recharge your batteries; fill up your gas tank. You can’t keep going and going like the” energizer bunny” if you don’t stop to recharge and refuel. Burnout will be inevitable and then you won’t be any good to anyone. Remove yourself from the situations that are causing you the most discomfort, even if for just a few days.

It may also possibly be that you are carrying on behaviors that you learned as a kid. Did you grow up in a family that really highlighted holidays and birthdays? Did your parents make a big deal out of upcoming family dinners, the start and end of the school year, the super bowl, barbeques, etc.? If so, no wonder you are looking at the calendar waiting for the next big thing- that is what you know and what you learned over the years as a child.

Instead of wishing for the next big event or wishing for the next free weekend, you may want to shift your focus and instead live for the moment and practice being content where you are. Notice that I said the word practice. If you have spent your life time “wishing” then you have a lifetime of “thinking” to undo.

You can start with one simple family exercise the next time you are in the car together. Instead of worrying about getting to the next place on time, ask your kids to share with you three things that went well for them at school that day and three things that didnt' go so well. This takes the focus off of rushing and stressing and opens up the door for some good bonding time with your kids.

One final thought- if you try some of these recommendations and find they aren't really helping, you may want to seek out the help of a counselor or medical professional.

Good luck and take care.

Lori

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