This recent flu bug (which I promise not to go on about) was not good for my physical health, but also helped to give my pride and my stubborn streak a serious battering. I normally pride myself on being very self sufficient, independent, soldiering on, even when I am struggling physically (with my arthritis, I am occasionally in some pain) and I have very high expectations of myself, which sometimes, if you don’t know me well, can make me seem as if I am driven, and also a little bit less accepting of others. I was told, a while ago, that my determination, and drive can be intimidating, which made me sad. I try not to project my expectations on others, I think I am just very tough on myself and it makes me sad to think others feel I look down on them or think they aren’t meeting my “standards”, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Often, I am looking at friends and family around me, in admiration, and wondering how they seem to be managing it all, when I feel like a hamster on a wheel.
I don’t like admitting I am weak, or that I am not coping, or that I might not be able to meet deadlines or things I have promised, and this flu bug meant I had to really take a back seat, admit I was proper poorly and not coping, and tell people no, I couldn’t do things I had said I would do, and also take time out to rest. A friend once jokingly told me I gave the impression I was almost Superwoman, and that she was in awe of me. I think I have let the feeling that I HAVE to do it all, on my own terms, to my own standards, and not let anyone help or support me, too far and now I struggle to ask for help or accept it, or to admit that sometimes I need to stop, look after myself, and take time out, before I fall apart. LSH was extremely cross with me, that the first week that I was unwell, I staggered into work, when I should have been home in bed, because I felt like I would be letting everyone down, by not being there, when in fact, they would have coped beautifully without me, and I would likely have recovered faster from the flu. I am at times, (often) my own worst enemy. I blame being a type A personality, the never admit defeat attitude that boarding school instils in you, and frankly, a stubborn streak I have inherited from both my mother and my father. I soldiered on through pregnancies feeling ill, carried on like normal until sleep deprivation with Small Boy nearly sent me over the edge, and I like to say “I’m fine” when really, I am far from it.
I am realising that no one is Superwoman, no one is perfect, manages it all, keeps every ball they are juggling perfectly in the air, ALL of the time. Some people are much better at it than others, and do seem to juggle things effortlessly, at least in public, but I suspect they really aren’t as all together as they’d like the world to think, or they have a very good personal assistant, maid, nanny and hairdresser or are secretly Mary Poppins.
I am slowly allowing myself to admit, that my house is not perfectly tidy, sparkling clean, and like that of a magazine cover, (or some of the blog pages I have seen) that sometimes I will be eating breakfast on the bus on the way to work, and brushing toast crumbs off my phone, as I try to answer a few mails, that my children love me, and don’t care if their home is perfect, they just want Mummy, that LSH doesn’t care if the curtains don’t entirely match the sofa, that the towels in the bathroom are the right shade of blue, that the carpet in the living room needs cleaning again, or that I am wearing my yoga pants, at 4pm in the afternoon, as long as the children and I are healthy, and happy. I am realising that the job I do, needs me to work things out, so that if I am ill, I have help that can cover me (the ladies who help me are AMAZING, but they aren’t superwomen either, although I hold them in awe, because of all they do) so that I am not freaking out that things aren’t going well because I am not there to help keep everything running. I need to admit that other people can do things for me, even if they aren’t the way I would do them, and that’s ok.
I want everyone to think I am in control, that my whole life is organised, collected and running smoothly, that I can do the million and one things I have set out to do in my week, and keep all the balls in the air, without dropping them. I don’t want to have to ask for help or admit my weaknesses or let people down. It’s a good thing, in that I pride myself on being reliable and faithful, and helpful, but it’s a bad thing when I take it to the point where my pride at being so “tough” causes me to damage myself and put pressure on my family.
So, not only has my poor body taken a bit of a hammering with this flu, but my ego has been knocked back down to size, and I am saying to myself “you are NOT Superwoman, you cannot do it all, you will ask for help, or say no, or admit that you can’t manage sometimes”. It’s been painful, but a learning experience for me. I am going to print it out, to remind myself.
I am not Superwoman, I am not Superwoman, I am not Superwoman… (as much as I want to be)