I am last priority. At least, that is the way it has been for a very long time. Last priority for the people around me and eventually last priority for myself. The first thing to go in the chaos of life is me, which I am trying to change. There are a lot of reasons for why it has been like that and my goal is to find a way to counter each and every reason.
Reason 1: We live in a pretty teeny apartment, the tiniest 4 bedroom flat I have ever seen. At any given time we have between 4 and 6 people living in this house. We have been here for seven years now, and the people living here have gotten bigger. Sounds silly, but it makes a difference. The humans have grown and so have the size and amount of their belongings. Because it is so small, it feels like we own more stuff than we do, but really it is just because we live in a what sometimes feels like a tiny toy house. Sometimes it seems like we are all on top of each other. I frequently feel like I have absolutely no place of my own to escape to in the madhouse, other than the bath and that doesn't always do it. It often seems like there is a place for everyone but me in this house/family. See Reason 5 for that!
How am I going to change things? Well, this one is actually going to be pretty simple. We are moving in 27 days and a wake up to Arizona. New house, more space. It's a time to spread out a little, have the room to organize, to live, to breathe. It will give me the chance to create a space for me. It doesn't need to be big. It just needs to be mine, to bring me serenity, to bring me relaxation.
Reason 2: My life can be pretty crazy. Crazy busy, crazy chaotic, and sometimes just plain crazy. I am a stay-at-home mom of 3 school age boys and another son away at college. I am the wife of an active duty soldier who is gone more than he is home. I am a full-time college student. I am also an aspiring author, working on my first novel. I am a busy chick most days. When there is a list of things to get done, it is pretty easy to dismiss as unimportant, even selfish, anything that doesn't move towards crossing something off that list.
How am I going to change things? This is where I have to give myself permission. Permission to take the time and the permission to not be Super Woman every moment of every day. I am not shirking my duties as a SAHM if the laundry doesn't get folded or if I don't make dinner every night, The cost of being Super Woman is often too high to pay, the price being my sanity and stress level.
Reason 3: There are times when I am just too exhausted to care. I have a health issue, a sometimes debilitating mold allergy that drains me thorougly. There are days when I am some level of sick all day and all night. It doesn't inspire trying to do anything for myself because I feel like hell tryig to do anything. After a long day, sometimes it seems like even the slightest effort towards doing anything for myself just seems like yet another thing I have to cross off my list. All I want to do is sit and chill out. But that isn't really doing anything for me. That's doing not much of anything. Sometimes a bath is enough, but more often, I need something a little bit more emotionally and/or spiritually upllifting than that. There are also a lot of times when making myself a priority means that I need one of the others to step up for me, and take care of things a little while I tend to myself. And that can be a bit of a struggle. Again, see Reason 5!
How am I going to change things? This, too, should change soon. The climate change in Arizona should go a LONG way to helping with my allergy. Once that starts to leave my system, I can get back to being healthy, losing weight, and working out. Right now, that is almost an impossibility because of the dizziness and nausea that are ever present. The weight is the easy part, since my issue isn't food-related but allergy-related. I can't wait to start feeling human again because this constant state of ick is draining in every way.
Reason 4: Time. Time to devote to myself sometimes seems like a selfish grabbing of time that is often in short supply. I have always been a "get the mission done" kinda girl, so anything less than that and I tend to feel like I am dropping the ball. Time alone. There are times when I can't even pee without one or more people knocking on the door, requesting assistance. And never is it ever anything that really couldn't have waited. I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about that, feeling like it is a sign of disrespect that I can't even pee without being interrupted. I can't seem to get anyone around me to respect that I might need some time to do anything without being interrupted. Case in point… this summer, in my break between classes, I wanted to devote myself to writing my book. Despite repeated conversations, it has become clear that this dream is going to be a huge struggle. I literally cannot get 10 minutes of uninterrupted time. This, too, has given me a bit of attitude. I gave up my beloved Army career to take care of my family. Because we are an Army family, the bulk of responbility that comes with a family is mine. With as much time as he is gone, this is the best way for us. It was the right choice for my family, but I loved it, and I loved the fulfillment it gave me. I read all these blogs about how fulfilled these moms feel. I am not one of them. Most of the time I feel used and taken for granted (Reason 5). College and writing are two of my biggest dreams and I guess I feel that I deserve to follow them after turning my life around to take care of my families. These are two things I want for myself and I give everything to my family, so I think I have earned it.
How am I going to change things? I have set my foot down. Things are going to change in Arizona. The husband won't be deploying anymore, at least while we are there, which could be the last 6+ years of his career until he hits 20 years. He swears up and down that he will be there to help me when I need it. That's great, but I have heard the promises and the words before so I guess time will tell. I am tired of fighting to be considered in this family so I hope my point has been made. He has, however, totally admitted that he has spent a good portion of time taking me for granted and that things will be different, so I hope.
Reason 5: I am the lone female in a house of testosterone. I have 4 sons, ranging from almost 9 to almost 20. I have a husband. That's a lot of testosterone to deal with. It sometimes seems like I live in a constant state of "them vs. me". It is WAY too easy for things to be dismissed/excused as "it's a guy thing" or, my personal favorite, "it's a girl thing". Both of which are think are total BS and are used as either justification to ignore me and/or my feelings or as excuses for bad behavior. I know that there are sometimes differences between boy thinking and girl thinking, but I also think that it is an easy answer sometimes to blame things on gender. It's a bit of a cop out sometimes, an easy answer rather than the harder effort to make amends or change or do something differently. Sometimes it is just a human thing. It's easy for people to take a SAHM for granted. She is always there until she almost becomes a piece of furniture. She ceases to have her own identity, her own life. I explain our family dynamic to them like this. Each person in the family is a slice of pie, except me. I am the pie plate. I am the glue that holds us together, that takes care of us. I am the one that everyone comes to when they need or want something, even when they have the means to do it themselves. But they each only see their own piece of the pie, their own needs and their own lives. What they don't get is that there are five of them, all with their own wants, needs, and demands from me. And there is only one of me to deal with them all. As I said before, the majority of the responsibility for and in this family is mine. I am okay with that because it is what works. What I am not okay with is that there is no appreciation for all that I do and have given to my family. I am the first person to be disregarded and dismissed in this family, without a thought, because they are so focused on their lives. I am nothing more than a piece of furniture sometimes, most of the time.
How am I going to change things? This is the one that is the hardest for me to sort out. It has been a non-stop battle for years and the underlying reason for a lot of the issues I have been having. The fact that I have been dismissed, taken for granted, and made to feel unimportant hasn't really helped my self-esteem or acceptance. I have to come to feel like my only value to this family, and to life in general, is found in what I can do for people. Not in who I am, but what I can do for them. Its the same feeling I have with most of my friendships, too, as I talked about in this post. I can change myself, but I can't force them to change. So I am at a loss with this one. I am hoping that this is one of those things that, as I change myself, will change with me. That maybe the changes in me will be enough to cause change in how I am treated, by my family and by friends
“We teach people how to treat us.” – Dr. Phil
These things don't make for a happy Kim. They make for a stressed out, frustrated, and often resentful Kim. Not a good Kim. Recently, I realized that I spend my entire life chasing a list of things to do and that most of them are for other people. I count, too. But how do you change that? My guys are in the habit of forgetting I am a person, and I led them there by forgetting it myself. And I think that is where change starts. With remembering who I am and that I am a person, worthy of more and better. Because no one else is going to believe it until I do.