The doer of everything
Have you found yourself the ‘everything’ person? The one in your house/workplace/relationship/family who does ‘all the things’. By all the things I mean the things that keep everything in order. You know…..everything.
And although (most of the time) no-one asked you to do everything, somehow by default you began to do everything. And then, when you decide that perhaps everything is a bit much, no one is that keen on taking over much of the everything, as it’s so much better when you do it. All of it. And so, here we are again….
One of the recurring themes (nightmares) of my existence is the very real taking on of all things parental and household. I’m particularly bad at this when I’m in a relationship, but in the times of my life where I have been single, I’ve only been slightly better at getting help/delegating and/or getting my children to do things for themselves. Usually it was only when I had run out of options (as in when it was physically impossible for me to be in two places 50km apart at the same time, or if I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed or that time I lost my driver’s license for 3 months).
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this recurring theme in my writing. I surprise myself with how often it sneaks up on me. Have you got your own recurring theme? If so, feel free to apply everything that follows to that.
Anyway, so there’s been a pandemic and it’s still happening in the world at the time of writing this, and perhaps for much longer than we’d like and hope. In the stepping back from the world and therefore needing to reduce my workload, I found myself more often at home. Not ‘working’ from home on my very functional and valuable coaching business, but at home, on (functional and valuable, but not necessarily valued) home duties. And at first, this included all the children who were at home with me and thus somewhat able to do home duties with me, but mostly just trying to get something like schooling done, and then get away from me and each other. But then school went back, then afterschool sport and activities, and then everything else and somehow, I was still at home doing home duties. By my own creation.
BY. MY. OWN. CREATION.
That’s the blow really. That “somehow” me still being at home on home duties is not some crazy thing that just happened. I. SET. IT. UP.
Let’s all just take a breath here. Owning your own creations (however heinous) take some courage. And just because you created it doesn’t mean that everyone else who benefits from it has not enjoyed it, or doesn’t prefer it and/or wants it to change. It doesn’t mean they haven’t lapped it up and taken it all with greedy grace. But you offered it. And you are the only one who can change it. And likely, when you go to change it, they (the one’s benefitting from it) won’t necessarily embrace it and may just be outright resistant. And this too, must be accepted and swallowed if you have any hope of changing anything.
When I realised what was happening, I pulled the martyr card a few times (cringe) which was met with disdain (as it should be!). I spent a day or 3 feeling angry and taken advantage of by my family (but internally, so no one could eyeroll my complaining, or remind me that I had said I wanted to do all those things or hadn’t accepted the multiple offers for help that had honestly been offered). And then, I sat with myself.
We had a chat, me and the dissatisfied martyr who resides in our house sometimes. She writhed a little at all the focus and attention and someone who would hold her accountable to her complaining, and ask her what she intended to do about the situation she had (once again) ‘found’ herself in. She raged a little (if rage can be diminished) at the patriarchy, at her own complicity with a system of oppression, at her inability to step into her power fully and completely – especially during an unprecedented pandemic – and she finally accepted that she was responsible. And then the work began.
The work always begins, it seems, with radical self-responsibility. Not blame, shame or guilt. Not an effort to prove oneself right or ensure you are not wrong (yes, these two things sound the same but they look different in practice). Radical self-responsibility reinstates all the power to you, and then when or if these people around you react to your claims and desire for change you can meet them with an open heart and understand why they may not be altogether keen on walking to school, cooking dinner, doing loads of washing, doing the dishes and picking up the dog shit (TBH I have still not delegated this one task). And IF you have been the DOER of everything as (one of) your expression/s of love then when you stop you may feel unloving/uncaring/guilty and the people around may also feel unloved. Not because you don’t love them, but sometimes the doing of things is the ‘easiest’ way to express your love and much safer than opening it up and speaking it and risking it and feeling it. Mostly we’re doing so we can’t BE and when we can’t be, we don’t feel. So, we do to not feel. And that’s everything. Joy and devastation. Both ends of the spectrum and most things in between.
And if you want to know why you’d prefer to do than feel? Then it’s time to start the work.
Radical self-responsibility is just the place to begin. What happens next is entirely up to you.
Who’s with me?
Big loves xx
PS – A good podcast and some reads
ABC Ladies we Need to Talk – Solving the mental load
Photo by Alysha Rosly on Unsplash