Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Martyrdom Complex

A few years back my sister-in-law, who has a lovably blunt nature, asked me, "Do you think you have some sort of martyrdom complex?" I am not sure what was going on at that moment, but I was certainly just being my normal self and taking on a bit too much.  I immediately said no, but the question has stuck to me like glue. I have thought about it a lot since then.

You see I do tend to be the one who takes on too much. I will pick up the slack. I will spread myself too thin. I tell myself that this comes from a place of love. Sara's question got me wondering if that were true. Do I do it for love or something else? Are my motivations pure?

The answer is...I dunno, maybe. I think it's a little bit of everything. I do genuinely want to help. I also have a bonafide control freak lurking under my skin. I am often happy to pick up the slack with no strings attached, but there are other times when my motivations certainly come from a place of conceit. Ultimately though, I think that I seriously have an issue with asking for help. I hate to ask someone to do something for me when I am perfectly capable of doing it. No matter if I am tickling the rim of exhaustion.

I also have an issue with accepting offers of help. I hate to be a bother. Quite frankly people often have to force me to accept their help. For instance, yesterday I was sick and so tired (up with a sick baby for a few days = 9 hrs sleep in 3 days). I didn't ask for help. Eric knew I wouldn't so he took the initiative and took the day off from work and then he forced me to rest.

I don't really think this issue is mine alone. I think this is a problem that many mothers have. We let our needs fall to the wayside while we take care of others, giving ourselves completely to giving. I acknowledge that I struggle to let go and let someone else give to me. Yet, I am trying. I really am.

I have been forcing myself to accept offers for help. Eric has given me time to take a hot bath, work on a painting, just do something for myself and my sanity.

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A moment to myself

Admittedly this has not been a quickly won battle. I will probably always struggle with this issue as I am capable of taking only so much "me" time before a feeling of guilt begins to cloud over me, but I think it is important that I try. I want my girls to know that nobody can or should do it all and that everyone needs help. I also want my girls to know that it isn't selfish to take time for oneself and so I am trying to let go a little bit and to be thankful that I have people who want to help.

4 comments:

Anne Marie said...

I often find myself unable to say no, even if I really don't have time/energy/desire to jump into a particular thing. I am a pleaser by nature, and I don't like to disappoint people, even if it's something I really don't want to do. This trait does get me into trouble sometimes. I have been working on it, it is not easy, but at least twice in the last few months I was able to say, "thanks for thinking of me, but that really isn't my thing". It felt terrible at first, but later I was really glad I'd said no.

Love the painting you're working on!

Michelle said...

"I also have an issue with accepting offers of help. I hate to be a bother. Quite frankly people often have to force me to accept their help."

Oh, Maria Rose--how like your great-grandmother Rose!

I really like the painting. It is rather reminiscent of a painting by your Grandma Grace that hung in Grandma Rose's house for many years.

I've read that the problem Type A personalities have with relaxation time is that forcing themselves to try and relax is more stressful than working!

Hope you can enjoy your self time to the point of refreshment, but not to the point of stress.

Grandma said...

It's genetic!

Sarah Purdy said...

I find myself in this situation daily. Sometimes I notice that I'm grinding my teeth and tense and then I realize it's because I haven't even taken the time to use the bathroom in a few hours. I'm so busy putting everything else first - the kids, dinner, house, husband, gifts - that I don't even take the time to use the bathroom. Sheesh. New Years resolution: be more aware of my own needs and most definitely, ask for help!

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