Are you the kind of person where your shit is either completely in order, or it’s all a disaster and you’re basically one step from living in a van down by the river while shoveling a steady stream of Bugles into your poor-me-hole? I don’t mean your literal shit (is it backed up and kind of squeak-farty with bad breaks, or is it a nice solid loaf of — no), I mean your row of ducks, your overall life situation. I’m a special fractal snowflake of rigid commitment and overindulgence, basically, where I swing from one extreme to the other when it comes to exercise, housekeeping, diet, personal enrichment, self-care, and so on. I’m proactively scheduling flu shots months in advance or I’m waiting in the line of pallid Walking Dead extras in Rite Aid on January 20th. I’m making my bed first thing in the morning and cooking a nutritious breakfast or I’m emerging from a cat-hair-coated pile of discarded pillows to nab a stale donut. I’m doing crunches and folding the laundry or I’m crunching through a bag of cinnamon-sugar Pita Crisps while justifying the visible cobwebs on the ceiling as startlingly realistic Halloween decorations. Etc.

I’ve been enjoying the firing-on-all-cylinders side of my personal productivity cycle lately, which is a good feeling. I lost most of the weight I allowed to creep back on over the summer (damn you, Jeni’s ice cream, for being incomprehensibly delicious AND having a brand name that looks like “penis” in a URL bar), I scheduled the first dentist appointment I’ve made in *loud distracting cough* years, I have all my millions of soccer practices and games carefully and redundantly entered into both a paper and digital calendar. I start training for an enormously intimidating new volunteer job this week, and I’ve even been forcing myself to step outside of my hermit comfort zone and actually talk to the other parents I see each week at my kids’ activities.

It’s all awesome stuff, but I can never escape the belief that no matter how well I’m doing, it’s all temporary. Like, the woman who’s currently juggling several things with what appears to be a decent amount of discipline and capability, she’s just a facade. The real me is waiting in the wings, and she’s wearing chocolate-stained sweatpants and an expression of self-doubt. She’s ready to take over when Mrs. Doing-It-All runs out of steam, and she’s got the ass-dent in the couch all pre-warmed for me.

Do you ever feel this way too? How do you convince yourself that there’s no good you or bad you, there’s just you, and it’s okay to be proud when you’re doing well and be gentle with yourself when you’re not?

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Mary
Mary
7 years ago

This is how I have made my way through many, many hobbies (I am going to learn to can! Nope…takes too much work. I am going to knit! Man, this is hard. I am going to make bracelets! Hmmm…this got boring fast. I think I will take up running! Eh, walking sounds good.). And this is all my many, many diets…being “good” feels AMAZING and falling out of “goodness” makes me feel deep, deep shame, which I use to give me reasons to use food to further punish myself.

I do talk to my therapist about this a lot, and she tells me that a lot of people feel this way…and she tries to steer me away from this “black or white thinking.” Thanks for showing me that other people truly DO feel this way because I kind of didn’t believe that could possibly be true.

Kathryn
7 years ago

I feel this way often. I think social media plays in to this feeling as well. You see all of these women who seem to have all of their shit together, and I’m lucky if my kids didn’t eat cereal for dinner some nights. We all know that batshit crazy person who appears perfect on facebook or instagram.

MassHole
MassHole
7 years ago

Also called being human.

NancyJ
NancyJ
7 years ago

They say it takes 21 days to make something a habit?
LIE! I could work out and eat right for 6 months and one day I’ll just say “Done!” and that’s it – I’m back to eating a bagel with cream cheese and having 3 cups of coffee before 9am instead of working out 6 days a week at 5:30 am and eating 3 healthy and balanced meals and smoothies blah, blah, blah…
Trying to get my shit back together as we speak.

Laura
Laura
7 years ago

This post keeps running through my head and I relate in so many ways to what you wrote. I don’t have anything to add that is any more insightful than what is already written here. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing this. It’s so difficult with social media so rampant we glimpse into peoples’ lives and they (of course) only share the highlights. It’s hard to keep that in mind sometimes. It’s very easy to feel like a failure in comparison.

Gretchen in HB
Gretchen in HB
7 years ago

Hm.
Bipolar? Hormonal? Imposter syndrome? Seasonal? All of the above. Please don’t ever delete this post, Linda, or the follow up you just posted. I want to refer back to them. A lot.

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