I can do this, with you

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I really felt like shit about myself last week. Despite knowing better, I was judging myself rather harshly for not being able to take care of myself properly on my own. And then you all stepped in and set me straight.

An acquaintance responded to the status update about last week’s blog post on my Facebook wall with this:

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She’s right. I’ve always had high expectations for myself. I was the kid who cried when they didn’t get an A in a class. I was disappointed in myself for getting 98 per cent as my final grade in a high school pre-cal class. I stopped drawing in junior high because, though I loved it, I didn’t think I was good enough (looking back at my old sketchbook, I was again judging far too harshly).

Last week, two friends popped into my place to help clean and I told them to leave the disaster that is my living room. At the time, there were piles of whole rags, stripped rags and braided rags which are part of my project to turn worn-out clothes into dog toys for animal rescues. I had a suitcase of wallpaper, wallpaper cut into squares, notched/creased wallpaper for envelopes and some actually glued into envelopes for sending issues of Cockroach mag out. I had a little bin of mason jars for packaging the dried greens I foraged this summer to make teas and the vegetables I collected and dried for soup mixes. And there was some yarn lying about for a gift I’m working on.

The time I spend putting supplies for craft projects away and taking them back out is ridiculous, even though everything is sorted nicely in labeled bins. Having the projects I am currently trying to power through all over my living room saves me time. Maybe one day I’ll have a little workshop for these things, but right now I do all my making in the living room. What Lynn said made me not only feel better, but realize that it’s totally acceptable to have my home however I want it and not feel guilty.

While all the comments on my post were supportive and lovely and made me feel better, this one also really struck me:

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If you know me, you know I do a lot for others. Friends are often encouraging me to stop helping people so much, but it’s hard because I truly believe this world would be a much better place if we all did as much as we could to take care of one another.

Part of making that a reality is actually accepting help. So, when a dear friend offered to deliver a care package to me, I didn’t object. Rather, I said thank you and appreciated the dried goods and vegan hot chocolate mix (which she’ll have available at The Half Moon Market). When another friend called to tell me she was coming over to clean, my response was also simply “thank you,” as was my response when she surprised me the next day by bringing another person along plus food her husband had made me.

My friends’ generosity (whether that was them physically being there, sending me cat stickers on Facebook, or texting me cute emojis or a tiny compliment) helped rejuvenate me. This week isn’t awesome. The pain is minimal but I’m just exhausted. One afternoon, I passed out on a co-workers couch when I stopped by to feed his cat while he was out of town and then considered going to bed at 7 p.m. that night.

However, the love I’ve received gave me the energy to get most of those dog toys ready to go to D’Arcy’s Arc and Hampers of Hope, watch a friend’s kid and sneakily clean her kitchen a bit while she went to an appointment and start to plan a sleepover at my place for four children who I absolutely adore but don’t make enough time for.

The past week strengthened my belief that if we all put more time and energy into supporting and loving one another, we’d all be better off.

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5 thoughts on “I can do this, with you

  1. I stumbled on your blog today searching for others that I feel I can connect with, particularly in search of blogs of people on a journey out of mental illness (relevant to my own writing, if you wanted to check it out).

    I read your words and saw myself, particularly in the oh so small but seemingly huge aspect of being tidy. Personally, cleaning my room is a task I wrestle with daily. But never judge yourself for not being where you think you ought to be in life! You are where you are, and you should always be striving to be in a healthier place but you have to know – that means something different for you than for everyone else. Yes, complete chaos is never good in terms of cleanliness, hygiene and having your space tidy enough that you can find what you need without stressing are important. But a healthy level of neatness is what works best for y o u . Don’t set your own expectations for other people, but for yourself. You do you, as long as it’s good for you.

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