I tend to be most overwhelmed by people and expectations, and the result is me digging my heels in on the one hand, often wanting to do nothing of the sort, putting off as long as I can, and then swinging to knowing I need to and doing what I can… but sometimes only just.
Why do I? Sometimes it seems the right thing to do, sometimes the loving thing to do and I do love and want to do sometimes, and sometimes it is easier than refusing, sometimes just so I can know I did the decent thing, sometimes guilt.
I am also overwhelmed by too much to do in too short of time, which when you procrastinate, voila! And my too much is an embarrassingly small amount. Everyone runs productive circles around me. I sometimes feel proud if I can say I did three things in a day and one of them was a proper dinner. But I don’t like people watching me do things. I want to do them alone and unobserved.
Even just having to make a phone call where I know there is going to be tension can take weeks of procrastinating and trying to work myself up to it. Have to have conversations about it in my head first, many.
You were saying your daughter won’t leave anything on the table. Mine won’t take anything off it without somebody growling. So much gets put on the coffee table things start falling off. things sit on the kitchen table for weeks [don’t mean food, just notebooks, this or that]. I have four kids, though one has moved out and married. We still see a lot of them and they are having a baby soon. They lived with us for a couple months this winter/spring while their house was being repaired, with their cats and dog in the guest room. Now my MIL and BIL are living with us since end of June. If all goes well, it will only be two more weeks. My brother was here for for like six weeks this summer too. We seem to have a revolving door.
Anyhow, what I meant to say was that when they were all young, we went through a time where we had to kick a path through toys and whatnot. This lasted quite some time. It drove my husband to distraction. I think by then most hope for anything ever staying as you cleaned it had left me.
I am clearly not willing to put shit away every day that is coming back out as soon as they wake. And a new attitude struck. This too shall pass. And my relationship with chaos became one of tolerance. I tell myself it is temporary and ignore it. If someone wants it different, they are welcome to do it.
I knew I had lost it when I not only started matching socks by type and ignoring color but when I started wearing mismatched socks myself and wanting to cry as I stood there trying to fudge enough pairs to get us through the school week. I wish sometimes I could just happily go about cleaning without thinking! Actually, when I can be alone and turn on music, it can be a good time.
When I was a kid, I would clean by putting everything in the center of my room and slowly starting over putting things in their place. For days my parents would try to bite their tongue until finally maybe a week later everything was as it should be and I’d sweep the last dust in the center of the room into the bin.
People look at my chaos now, not realizing it is my white flag and wonder why I believe myself to be a perfectionist… but for me it doesn’t come out in forever chores that will never stay done, but in art, projects, writing, editing, editing, editing, or making the best possible choice, occasionally in organizing, though I would much rather feed my brain than fret over the very lived in house. In all cases it is more what matters to me, my aesthetics, something made or done or gathered with consuming care. Wanting to get the perfect gifts even.
My friend used to laugh because I would straighten the art on her walls but care nothing of the toys scattered everywhere or a pile of dishes. I like arranging things that will stay longer, like the mantle or books or art on the walls, so of late piles of things are everywhere and I am just too overwhelmed, exhausted and frustrated to get to them. And to be honest I think I refuse because I feel stuck in never ending servitude and it is a freedom to watch it pile and not do it till I am good and ready. Not till I have the space and privacy I need. it is a little bit of a leave me the fuck alone, if you don’t like it, leave. A little bit of open your eyes and see that I am not alright and I can’t tell you. But probably mostly a lot of I can’t be bothered with the perpetual mundane.
And there is always so much thinking to be done, musings, searchings, internal conversations, so much to make me move so slowly. I think I may hold the record for longest to get dishes done when I was a kid. I am not much faster now. I prefer laundry for the meditative sorting and folding. Many times it just sits on the dryer folded though, for days… until someone goes looking for it.
At any rate, too much thinking to lay still and breathe. I have been trying to breath for a count of twenty per someone’s suggestion. It is a laugh. I count to two, then get lost in thoughts, then start over, then get to four, then go on some piecing together venture for about who knows how many breaths and have to go back to five, repeating till I have counted to twenty finally but probably taken fifty or more deep breaths cause I keep starting over with the last number I can remember. Sometimes I try to put my body to sleep and keep my mind awake. Often by the time I am almost there, I have to pee or there is this terrible itch.
I actually find watching documentaries to be much more meditative if I am needing space and time in amongst everyone. The Se visuals and interesting information tends to shut my brain up in a way laying there trying to be calm does the opposite. And the escapism to the past, to dinosaurs or saber tooth cats or the last ice age and Neanderthals or some such relaxes me better. I feel no need to remember exact details, the gists soak in anyhow, and it is mostly just to be quiet and peaceful and alone [computer/headphones] with the amazing world. I also think it just feel good because I used to do it with my dad. My brother does this too.
However, illogical assumptions or unnecessary drama can pull me right out and send me into a scathing inner dialogue, so it doesn’t always work.
I also like to watch foreign films with subtitles as a way to focus elsewhere so my mind can’t interrupt… as much… but those are often more intense and not meditative, but just to get my mind off other things, to escape from looping.
Lastly I will say I spent a month eating very cleanly recently, drinking a lot of water and no longer drinking black tea and only sips of husbands coffee sometimes… and my emotional up and downs evened out quite a bit. It could also be that my period seems to have stopped and that has always had me rollercoastering, so who knows. It could also be that I put myself into a kind of insular pupa to get myself through.
I fear my relating is overmuch, but you asked about overwhelm and it is hard to explain without giving a sort of picture of the struggle.
You know when imagining the peace of solitary confinement you are beyond overdone.
My best recommendation and where I feel the best in the world is to get out and walk in nature. Any place, the wilder the better. Walk barefoot at the beach. Hike. These ground me and put a smile on my face, brings me back and makes everything better, at least while I am doing it, and often for a bit beyond. It is great for kids and the messes they make will be of twigs that can be left where they drop them. When I go I see the chaos of trees fallen and decomposing and plants growing this way and that, a jumble, not neat, not controlled but profuse and striving, I can relax and let be.
This probably could have been edited more, so less, but it ran the risk of never showing up, so…