Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Getting Out of My Own Way

I had a meltdown last night.  It wasn't pretty - yelling, tears, the works.  The last few months have been beyond overwhelming here and I hit my breaking point.  What pushed me over the edge?  Yesterday's reason was work and it was the straw that broke the camel's back during an already stressing week. And believe me, I'm not complaining that I have work to do - I'm thrilled actually to be so busy.  But today it just pushed me a little too far on top of everything else I have on my plate and I couldn't take one more thing and so as a result I broke down.

And how did I deal with being overwhelmed?  I snapped at Josh who tried to solve the problem, albeit, not the right way.  Sorry Josh but it wasn't - not even close.  But he tried.  His hands are pretty much tied given he's not even in the same country as me.  And that, of course, is part of the issue as well.  But there is nothing I can do about that either.  The result was an argument overheard by little ears who of course were then concerned about all the things that I told them not to be concerned with. Ahhh, let's add that one in too.

I told him I didn't sign up for this.  And I didn't.  I signed up for 2 years of life abroad.  And while it hasn't all been sunshine and roses, it's been a pretty good ride for the last 4 years.  Full of MANY challenges but results that have made it all worthwhile.  But know that as my friend Pamela so eloquently put it "behind every beautiful picture of each wonderful location, there are tears of frustration and breaking points no one sees".  It's a catch-22  - sure I didn't sign up for this but nor do I regret the people we have become as a result of it and how we will continue to evolve.  I'm tired though.  I'm tired of the challenges.  I know they are first world issues and I have no right to complain about this blessed life we have.  But I'm mentally spent.

It has been a ride like nothing I could have expected. It's like a never ending roller coaster with continuous ups and downs and often a surprise twist along the way.  It's been worth it.  But at times it's takes it's toll and lately I just want to get off the ride and go home to the simplicity of my life stateside. Then 5 mins later something happens to remind me why I am living this life less ordinary and I plug along trying to put the event that threw me where it belongs - in the past.

After a long discussion with my mom who kindly brought me back down to earth and helped me to put things in perspective, I feel better.  I've got to let go the peripheral stuff that I can't do anything about right now - our empty house in Attleboro, where our next move will be to, researching schools in said possible destinations, our tax returns, flights for our summer travel (of which plans are booked but don't know if I'm doing one way or round trip flights since I don't know where we will be going after June), prepping the apartment for a move (in Spain there is no allowance for wear and tear, it goes back to the owner exactly as it was given), selling our European belongings (if we are moving back to the US), figuring out what we do with the car since our lease is thru 2015 and we won't be here then ... and the list goes on and on and on.

Oh and I still have a job, a household that I have to take care of by myself and kids that are with me and me alone 5 days a week who have activities 4 days a week, need to be fed, have help with homework and all the other fun stuff that comes along with being a parent.  Somehow Josh just gets to work and that's it.  Now don't get me wrong, he's the primary bread winner here - I get that but that should not reduce the value of my job either along with the other responsibilities that are on only my shoulders. But I'm not feeling the partnership love here these days and that's a big part of the issue of living in 2 different countries. This is temporary and I recognize that but sometimes, when I can't get out of my own way, I forget that this separation and uneven distribution of responsibility is not forever.

But for me, I have trouble letting things go.  I'm not always good at focusing on the right box.  I know there are many things I can't do right now because circumstances won't allow me to do them.  I know that this stress is self inflicted.  I need to get out of my own way and focus on the pieces that I can fix - work, kids, general household.  The rest will fall into place when the time is right.

As I type, I'm sitting here thinking back to when we first moved to Barcelona.   I was so overwhelmed with life that I couldn't get out of my own way (do you see a reoccurring theme here?) and that prevented me from enjoying all that this city has to offer.  Fast forward 4 years and sometimes I wonder how I survived those first months and yet as we come to what will likely be our final months, I find myself in a similar position.  That time certainly wasn't easy.  And these coming months don't look much better.  But it's what I do with that time and where I put my focus that will matter.  Do I want to sit here and wallow in self pity or do I want to get out there and make the best of the time we have left?
I have a quote that I like to look at every now and again and it reminds me of how much stronger we are for the adversities we face in our lives.

These problems, they will pass.  And I'm lucky for that.  They are first world issues and I'm well aware that there are so many less fortunate than us that have problems far worse.  Today is a new day and I started it with a new focus.  I am working like always but trying to take some time out to slow down my overactive brain as well.  When the kids get home from school I'm hoping to be in a much better place than I have been the last few days - a place where I can enjoy the few precious hours I have with them each day and where all the "to do lists" can be set aside for just a little bit and we can just enjoy this life less ordinary.


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