What the fuck is wrong with me? I ask, as yet again, I veer away from the hand-wash-only dishes piled in and around the kitchen sink and sneak into my bedroom, slide under the doona and start the endless scrolling on Facebook, or playing the 2 or 3 games on the hand-me-down iPad that lives on my bed.
Why do I hate housework so much? What is this barrier I have in my head that sees the clothes piling up on the couch in my bedroom, instead of being put away in my drawers, that sees the sheets getting changed once every 6-8 weeks, that lets the donatables pile up around my desk and lets the stove stay dirty, because cleaning it is just beyond me?
Why am I so angry? Why this time?
No surprises here. I’m angry because I have to do it all by myself, because the responsibility for the household rests on my shoulders alone, because I’m sick of being the only one that brings in the money to pay the bills.
But surely, after nearly ten years of doing it on my own, I should be well and truly over it? Why have I gotten worse over the last 5 or 4 years?
Because I thought that I would be in a better financial position by now. I thought that I would either have a job or that my business would be bringing in enough money that I could at least afford a cleaner and feel secure again.
But it’s not. I’m still struggling. I’m still barely making ends meet. I’m using credit cards to cover holes in my budget. I probably should stop buying wine for me and chocolate for the kids, really look at our grocery spending again. Is it time to give up car and home contents insurance? I look at what comes out of my credit card and there are tolls when I go to Melbourne, and Netflix and Stan monthly subscriptions. Perhaps it’s time to give those up, too. I have so few nice things in my life. So few luxuries. But maybe I just don’t have a choice any more.
I’m thinking about getting a personal loan to consolidate my debt and cancel my credit cards. I still have a debit VISA I can use for the road tolls and then just really severely cut back on the spending. Again.
It’s not all bad. I have a job, finally. It’s just one day a week, but the pay is good and the money will definitely make a difference to our fortnightly budget. It will reduce my Centrelink money, but the net result will still be positive.
It’s exhausting living with so much financial stress. It’s humiliating knowing that I can’t support my children through my own skills and efforts. Well, not until now.
Is that all this anger is about? My inadequacy as a provider for my children? Or is it the lack of their father in their lives as a back up? A back up I assumed would always be there when I embarked on this parenting journey. In fact, not just a back up, but the main provider through the years when they needed me most. And yes, those years are over, but I haven’t been able to pick up where I left off with my career or start something new, like I thought I would.
Instead we live a life of struggle and worry and stress. Yes, it was very old fashioned of me to rely on the man of the house for financial support, but he was the one on the great salary and I never expected that his relationship with us was so tenuous. I based my future on assumptions which were clearly all wrong. If I’d known any of that, I certainly wouldn’t have quit my job, or had a second child. Had he stayed gone, when he originally left, I would now be so much better off financially. But I wouldn’t have Sam. And I can’t imagine life without Sam. I don’t think Ben can imagine life without Sam.
I guess thoughts like these are pointless and examining them under the microscope doesn’t lead anywhere useful. Accepting them and the feelings they bring is the whole point of ACT, as is learning to live with them, without getting hooked into them, without viewing life through their lens.
One of our therapists likened them to a bunch of beach balls in a swimming pool, the more you try to hold them under water, the more they try to push back up and the more force they jump back up with. Instead, let them float around you and eventually these uncomfortable thoughts will float away and not be as in your face as they are when you’re focusing on them day in, day out.
I’m still new to this, but for the first time in ages, ever maybe, I feel hopeful that I might actually be able to manage my depression and anxiety. Maybe even come off my meds with time. This is something I’ve never thought possible before. I wonder, who is this person hiding underneath the depression and the meds? I’ve honestly forgotten what she’s like.
After I started writing this post yesterday, I went back and dealt with the stacks of dirty dishes in the kitchen. I still haven’t cleaned the stove, but it’s a real possibility for tomorrow. Who knows, I might even go for a walk? I did clean inside the car today and rewashed it after my 12 year old’s valiant efforts, which didn’t quite remove the grime.
If you’d like to find out more about Acceptance Commitment Therapy, I highly recommend the book I’m reading now, “Get Our of Your Mind and Into Your Life” by Steven C. Hayes (affiliate link). It’s full of really easy exercises to get you to practice the techniques it teaches. I’m finding that it reinforces what I’m learning in group therapy and provides additional insights into the methods. If you’ve been struggling with mental illness, addiction, or a personality disorder for a long time, this might just be the therapy that changes it all for you. If you can experience it with a practitioner, or a group, even better.
Also published on Medium.