Overcommitted as F***

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with the consequences of my tendency to overcommit. I’m not around the house enough to do the simple things, yet somehow it’s all getting done.

It’s been two weeks since therapy. There are notes I took during my session.

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It’s a learning process. My husband and I have had several spats as I work through it. He’s learning how to be empathetic and helpful in the house, while I’m working on not being a yes woman.

I don’t know why I’ve struggled so much with commitment to others. Part of me believes it is related to my need to please everyone. I want to do everything I can, at the sacrifice of what’s important to me. I’m going to work on this more. No. I am fixing this.

I need to first prioritize and actually stick to that. I take my husband for granted. I assume he’ll always be there and the truth is, he may not. He is the most important person in my life, yet I often put him last. It’s frightening. Before you think I’m an arrogant bitch, this behavior is not intentional. I basically commit to things because I think it’s okay and then realize later it’s pushing into our limited time together. Our time is limited because of his job. Like I wrote last time, he’s grounding me and building the hill underneath my feet. It’s amazing, and it causes me great guilt to prioritize our relationship more than I have been.

Ouch:
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Basically, I need to slow down. After establishing with my therapist that I need to ask for help, I.did exactly that. I asked my friend for help organizing myself and managing myself better. I’m trying to get promoted again and if that comes, I’ll be at a high level that I’ll need to know how to manage myself better. She’s going to help reduce the excess noise in my mind.

And on that note, I’m going to go to bed. I need to unplug.

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All steps, big and small, are important in my journey out of the rat race.

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Are we Really MEANT to fly?

I have the best thoughts while showering and today was no exception. I used to think that my husband held me back from flying, but that has changed. He grounds me. There’s a difference.

First, let’s discuss the flying part. Are we really meant to fly? Biology and evolution would say no. We have legs to walk on. And we do not have wings. So I would say that we’re not equipped to actually fly.

Oooohhhh, it’s a METAPHOR. Okay then. My bad.

I get it. I do. But I have become a firm believer that everything is connected for a reason. I met my husband in 1995 for a reason. While I take flight in my career, he’s keeping me grounded. I do not need to be up in the sky with my thoughts. I need to still be grounded and he helps me be smarter, wiser, and humble and understanding of people that struggle with their jobs and life satisfaction overall. Without him, I may be an ass. I already know without him, I would probably be entrapped in a spiritual warfare and a codependent situation with my family that probably would still be going on. I would not be open to therapy like I am and be willing to share it openly with people like I do. There’s a lot about me that would be different without him. So does he hold me back because he’s not as successful as me? No way, Jose! He’s helping build the mountain under my feet! There’s a reason for everything.

So, the next time you hear or say the phrase that someone is holding you back, think about why they might be. It could be for a reason – maybe you’re growing; maybe you are learning a lesson about relationships; maybe you need to learn a lesson how to move on from people that do hold you back, or maybe you need to remain humble and they are there to remind you of that daily. There are so many reasons that could exist. It may have nothing to do with your lessons either.

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Life is one big lesson.

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“Keep the End in Mind”

Some days, I have such an urgency to find my way out of the rat race, and I often feel like a young child ready to grow up because of the inconveniences of being young. I have been on the search of finding a way to counter these feelings and may have just found the key I needed to accomplish just that.

I think that I mentioned before that my blood pressure has gone up 10 points since I acquired this position. I’m in such a hurry to get things done at work and to unnecessarily prove myself to myself. The consequence is that I am stressing myself out. I have to keep reminding myself that it is just groceries. That’s it. This is not life or death. We’re just trying to get groceries on the shelf for customers to buy. In America, we live in excess anyway, so again, why am I so stressed out about this all? I must find a way to stop.

Three months ago, I started therapy about my job. I have needed therapy at various times in my life to discuss relationship issues and codependency. I never imagined I would need it for my job, but it was definitely necessary and I am benefiting from it. So far, I have homework to work through things and it is helping somewhat:

  • Reading an article on relaxing techniques and applying them
  • Counting positives related to work daily
  • Reading an article about unprecedented guilt
  • Removing items from my plate that are unnecessary
  • Doodling in between tasks (which has actually turned into doing pencil drawings at night)
  • Listing things that can be moved from “guilt of obligation” to “freedom of choice”

My latest session, we talked about how I tend to string codependence and perfectionism in my day-to-day behaviors. I have done what I advise people not to do and that is “pile” everything. I worry about minor things, about major things, and I expect myself to get them all accomplished and beat myself up for not getting them done. Minor things are as simple as housework and major things are being there for friends that are facing major life crises. So my therapist suggested that I list out all things that I feel that I have guilt of obligation to see where I can apply freedom of choice. And some of these feelings are applicable to work just the same as other things in my life. While discussing my appointment lessons with my husband, I realized that some coined phrases I have learned in my career are applicable as well. And just like that, my anxiety has started to be at bay.

One coined phrase was from the former Vice President of my department who used to remind us to “Always keep the end in mind.” Thinking outside of work, the end goal for Josh and me is to retire no later than 55 years old. We are speaking it into existence on a daily basis, and it is more and more real to me. We are discussing that goal with many people and talking to financial advisors about it. Personally, I used to over-pressure myself on getting it all done and done correctly. So the lesson that I am learning is to not over-pressure myself to get it done perfectly and to realize that we are making progress regardless. Josh has helped me understand that my career is how we are going to get there, and that is resulting in me steadily easing the urgency to leave the workforce.This is good, because I was starting to feel like I was suffocating in the job and that I needed to “Get out as soon as possible!” So, now that I’m not abandoning my job and running for the beach, I am feeling more relaxed and ready to tackle everything at a reasonable pace. EUREKA!

One other eureka moment that I’ve been having lately is the memory of the words of the former Executive Vice President of Metropolitan Banking for U.S. Bancorp, Kathy Beechman, who retired to take care of her terminally ill husband. I had the pleasure to hear her speak at a Women’s Edge event at Kroger; she talked about choices for women, but her words did not just apply to women and have been resounding in my head over and over lately. She said that when you are faced with the choice of 2 different opportunities in your career, always go the direction that has the most future opportunities. It is such a profound statement and has become a foundation of my advice to mentees and career-oriented friends. Kathy had a lot more advice to give to women regarding the choices we face in the work force and she spent a lot of time telling her story about retiring to take care of her terminally ill husband, which put things more into perspective than anything else. Her story is inspirational and indicative of a woman that is very strong on the inside and out. I consider her a role model and will continue to do my best to apply those teachings in my day-to-day life.

These two EUREKA moments are how I am going to focus on my career going forward: “Keep the end in mind” with retirement and go the direction with the most future opportunities. 

Confession: My Feet Stink

So I have a confession. I do NOT have it all together. My career might look like it from the outside; but on the inside, there are days that I feel completely out of control. Today, was one of those days. Seriously, my feet stunk today. I kept smelling them under my desk and I had my shoes on. My underwire in my bra is biting me right now and I desperately need to buy a new bra, but do not have the money to do it because we’re buying sealant for the deck like we have stock at the hardware store. Don’t even get me started about the cleanliness of our house and the situation in our lawn or under our deck. And, even though I look fit, stress eating definitely rears it’s ugly head many days.

But I do not and should not have any reason to complain. I make a generous salary for the work that I do and I am choosing to live the way that I do with an end goal of early retirement in mind. The problem? I’m stressed and cannot express it in a way that I get much empathy from people because I’m so “well off”.  So I’m going to bitch about my #firstworldproblem here and talk about the reality of it. First, I am not the only person feeling this way. I have so many girlfriends that are fighting these same feelings. We’re all in the same age bracket (Gen X). It’s the same story for all of us – we do not have enough time in the day, we are stressed at work, we question whether work is worth it, traffic adds another common sacrifice of time, we have aging parents, some of us have kids and others of us do not, some of us are married and some of us are not. It’s a common problem. Some of us are more vocal than others about it and are tired of pretending. I’m EXHAUSTED. I can’t find rest even after a long weekend or a relaxing vacation. I forget to breathe deep enough all the time to the point that I get a lump in my throat.  Since I’ve taken on this role, my blood pressure has gone up 10 points! This can’t be good. I have forgotten how to relax!
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I am so overwhelmed by the thought of getting my act together that I can’t even decide what might help. I’m grasping at straws trying to figure it out. I cannot wait for my therapy appointment on Saturday to talk more about this because it is becoming more and more obvious that I need my appointment this week. I have tried a lot of things lately.

  • Feng Shui
  • Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Massage
  • Outsource chores
  • Eat healthy
  • Take care of your pooches

But possibly, the best outcome was doing a poll of my friends on Facebook of what might help. Here are some of the ideas that they gave me.

I am seriously going to start looking into what I can do more and more and just start doing it. These were great ideas! If you have more, please feel free to share in the comments. I NEED all the ideas that I can get!

The Trailing, GenX Husband

The Trailing Husband – the man who gives up his career and chooses the route to support his wife. Similar to a woman quitting her job to be a stay-at-home mother and then trying to enter the workforce after years of not having a career, the Trailing Husband is also looked at like he does not have his career priorities in order. The result: not being hired.

First off, I cannot believe my husband and I are the only people that have the trailing husband syndrome. Yet, when I search the Internet, I find a ton of resources for trailing spouses targeted mostly towards wives. I found one single, relevant article linked to 1993 in Google. And as I read that article, I sadly observed that not much has changed. I still see the same concerns in 2015! Another resource that I came across a few years ago was the book, Lean In, written by Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Facebook. She touches briefly on the trailing husband syndrome, but the message is lost amongst many women commenting more about their own career paths and needing help at home. On LinkedIN, you can’t find much either. There are 11 groups associated with trailing spouse, but they all appear to be lead by women, who appear to be trailing wives. So what gives? There are still not that many resources out there for the Trailing Husband and this is significantly impacting their job satisfaction and their overall satisfaction in life. With many women climbing the career ladder, I know I cannot be the only one noticing this trend.

Another significant change that I am seeing in my generation (GenX) is that many men in my age range are facing problems in their careers. I don’t think they are all Trailing Husbands, but I do see that they are struggling with similar things. Even in training provided by HR at my Fortune 500 company, there is proof that the Millennial generation is surpassing the GenX and Baby Boomer generations in numbers. Could this be the problem? Recent articles and studies being posted by research foundations, such as Pew Research, are stating that we have been surpassed in numbers by the Millennials. However, the Baby Boomers are not leaving the job market. Time Magazine also looks at these trends and tries to understand each generation for what they are. In October of last year, they published a powerful article about GenX’ers being the ignored generation in the work force. This all leads to as the number of people in the workforce increase, the Gen X’ers are decreasing in overall numbers. Are we becoming a forgotten generation? Are we not promotable or even worth hiring?

I bring all of this up because I sit and watch my husband have lack of job satisfaction and frustrations finding “real” jobs. You can be told over and over again that you cannot blame your past and you need to accept where you are, but it is not always easy. You might wonder how did we get to where we are? Below are the events that brought us to where we are; some people might call them excuses. Whatever you call them, here is what happened….

Leading up to
Leading up to “Crandalls est 2001”

Additional Observations:

  • Raised by Baby Boomer, Divorced Mothers (one remarried, the other did not)
  • Female raised to be involved athlete and student organization leader
  • Male took on adult responsibilities early on (worked early, raised sister, paid bills, etc)
After
After “Crandalls est 2001”

Additional Observations:

  • Wife climbs corporate ladder
  • Husband still looking for direction, is a job hopper lacking job satisfaction, questions self confidence and abilities, becomes jack of all trades
  • Gen X Couple begins to redefine what success means instead of letting society define it

This all leads us to the questions of can you really get past your upbringing and your label? If a company does not have my resume next to my husband’s when they review it, they will never understand fully why he did the things he did. I hear hiring managers say it all the time that they ask what is wrong with people that job hop. Even my brother, an older Gen X’er, told me that as recently as last week! And since companies are tending to forget about our generation, they are not seeing the Trailing Husband syndrome for what it is: GenX husbands attempting to support their wives in their careers.

Because of all this, I know Josh and I are definitely on the path to retire early. That does not mean we’re not going to work anymore. It means, we want out of the corporate/government like structures that ignore our generation and to work at our leisure where we know we are appreciated and wanted – for ourselves. There may be consequences to this, but overall satisfaction in life is what matters more to us. Living on our own terms sounds much more appealing than living to the constraints in the current workforce makeup…. Unfortunately, we got the message later and need time to get that plan finalized. Until then, we’ll be over here in our corner trying to figure it all out.

Friendship Circle of Trust

Recently I’ve been talking to my therapist about my circle of friends. One of the first things I said to her was that I was frustrated that my friends did not seem interested in my life. In my last appointment, we finally discussed that my definition of friendship and my expectations for my friends can and will vary during my life.

First, the question was did I have realistic expectations. I believe I do, but what I define as a close friend probably needs to be limited to a small few. I sometimes apply that status to people that are not in the closest circle of trust in my life. Then when they do not live up to my expectations, I am disappointed and mad at them for not doing so. In reality, I cannot be close to everyone even though I sometimes want that.

Since I have friends that have come and gone, my therapist helped me see the closer circle includes a select few: my husband, one really great friend, one coworker and one other that lives out of town that I’ve met in life travels.

The next circle in the bullseye contains a few more people and a select few family members that I’m very close to, but they are not my “go to” friends for various reasons: inconsistent, unavailability, distracted by life, etc. They are well meaning, but I cannot rely on them the way I can the inner circle.

My therapist and I discussed that people move naturally in and out of these circles as we go through life. Oftentimes, when I feel frustrated, angry, sad or confused, a friend has moved into another circle without my full awareness or support. And sometimes, there is nothing I can do about that.

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So does this blog have anything to do with anything? I guess my point is to share that friendships are not always easy. Social media has made the definitions a little more blurry than they used to. If I had one piece of advice, it would be: be careful who you let into your inner most circle and recognize the ones that are there.

Ego

Last night, amidst my rum and diet coke, my husband and I talked about my ego. I need to check my attitude and watch my tongue when I’m frustrated. Whether it’s work, gym, church (my previous life), family, friends or my husband, sometimes I run my mouth more than I should and honestly, more than I want to worry about later. So I’m on a quest to figure out how to tame mine.

So how does one tackle the unreasonable devil on your shoulder?
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Maybe first I need to describe what that devil on the shoulder actually looks like. For me, it is laced a lot with codependency. Here are a few examples:

*It’s when I overreact emotionally and get overwhelmed by the anxiety in my head when my boss sends an email that feels like he’s questioning my ability.
*I don’t trust motives of people and concoct in my head what they are really saying.  My therapist calls it mind-reading (and I’m terrible at it.)
*My good friends aren’t talking much to me and it feels they aren’t there for me, so I push them back in my head emotionally and make myself unavailable. 
*I want to control everything – including your reaction to whatever I need to say.
*There are sooooo many more….

Back to my before question: how does one tackle the unreasonable thought logic at the time of the thought? Through time, my husband and therapists have given me some tips. Here are 4 tips that work most of the time for me, but I have to be constantly self aware and that is not always easy.

1) Rescue Cards

My husband taught me these. They are little notes to myself to remind me of logical thought patterns. Sometimes they are note cards placed in strategic locations that I will see at the right time and other times, they are notifications on my calendar. Do what you think makes sense for you. What to put on them is also specific to you. For me, I write stuff like: “We didn’t get into debt over night, so we won’t get out of debt over night either.” or on my calendar when I know my hormones are going to be flared up, “Treat yourself today.” or “You are enough.” It varies by circumstances, but it’s good to have the reminders whatever the format.

2) Relaxation Techniques

These are techniques to calm the central nervous system: deep breaths, meditation, prayer, yoga, rest, progressive muscle relaxation, calming music, peaceful scenery and noises, etc. There are so many things you can do. I tend to do a variety of things, but what seems to work the best for me is yin yoga and to set intentions. I often focus on a personal behavior that I need to keep in check and try to balance that chakra if it’s related to a specific area of my body. Recently I downloaded the app called “happify” and they have a relaxing beach scene that plays a rolling video of waves crashing into a private beach. I can hear that in my imagination without even opening the app.

3) Focus On Positives

This is the latest assignment that my therapist gave me. It is really helping me focus more on positives things that happen throughout my work week instead of just negatives. My husband and I are now making a habit of asking what positives happened in the day, so we can both do this together. I blame my codependency on this, but I often struggle taking on other people’s negative opinions of others and then struggle knowing what I believe. Some of it might be normal though because people have a natural tendency to vent about things and paint negative pictures. By having my husband tell me the positives in his day, I see our life and situation less grim and that is good.

4) “Frothy Fran” Accountability

My husband introduced me to this term. I don’t think it’s caught on as a new catch phrase, but he’s trying. Maybe this blog will help. A “Frothy Fran” is someone who can turn bitchy at the drop off a hat and tear down the character of another person while complaining about them. We all have a natural tendency to do this when we gossip, and no one is really above it. For me, it is very related to trying to be positive about things, except it’s specific to my opinion of people and running my mouth. I tend to adopt other peoples’ negative points of view of someone and compile to the negative feelings I have of that person. I’m just now receptive enough mentally to ask my husband and a couple of other friends to hold me accountable and call me out when I’m negative. It’s hard to hear that type of confrontation. But it is very needed!

Again, these things work for me most of the time. On the occasion that they don’t, I typically make my husband crazy. 😝