Fixing Everything for Everyone… or Not.

If you read any blogs besides this one, you’ve probably noticed the Reverb10 trend.  Basically, it’s a daily prompt to help us “reflect on your year and manifest what’s next.”  Quite frankly, the prompts have not inspired me much: I don’t really have or care to have one word that describes this or next year; I don’t want to narrow “feeling alive” down to one moment.  But this morning I have a lot to do, like finally put plastic over the windows and finish making an ornament I’ve been working on for a week, and, being who I am, this means I am doing pretty much everything other than those things. Like checking out reverb10.

Today’s prompt struck me, because I really do have an answer to it, and it’s an answer I’ve been putting a lot of energy into.

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

Letting go: look, Ma, no hands!

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to make things better for other people.  It’s my goal at work: improve their experience (“Sorry for the wait, help yourself to coffee and tea! Oh, your cat is SO CUTE, cutest cat ever!”), validate their feelings (“Only you know what’s best for your cat, you’re making the best decision…”); I did similar work at the rape crisis center, and that’s the important part of the work I do now.  But it extends beyond that, and it got bigger in the context of planning our wedding.  It became “Our wedding is important for everyone, not just us, and it has to be perfect!” Always in the back of my mind was “we have to make this look like a *real* wedding so that my family who may not be supportive of my Gay Wedding will still see that it’s a Real Wedding.”

a real(ly heavy) wedding dress, totally inappropriate for wearing in a canoe

Over the course of all of it, I realized that the wedding is about other people in a lot of ways, but it is also more about us.  It is about us becoming our own family, and it is about planning something really big together for the first time. In the end, it did look like a Real Wedding (and it was a real wedding!), but each element had been picked out because it was meaningful for us, not because we thought it would look good to other people.

What I’ve started to let go of this year is trying to live my life for other people.  I am realizing that I can love and support other people, but that I have to be more honest with myself and in my relationship.  This is not a Veruca Salt declaration; it is not all about me.  But my life is also not about everyone else, and that is what I am letting go of.

My family has been going through some tough stuff recently, and I have been trying my best to be there for everyone all the time, to be strong and supportive and assure everyone that everything is fine.  And then yesterday I was walking with Turtle, and something just sort of clicked. I said, “You know, as much as I want to fix everything for everyone, I can’t fix it, and it’s not my job to fix it.  It’s my job to be here and let them know that I love them, and let them know that I am here for them.”  And she agreed that I am doing that job pretty damn well.  It doesn’t stop my desire to fix the world, but it makes it a little easier to accept when I can’t.

my closest, awesomest support system: sister and wife

Forget whether or not you’re doing this reverb10 thing: is there something that you’re letting go of or trying to change in yourself?  And if you hate that question, here’s another for you: how do you find the boundaries between being supportive and taking care of your self?

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9 Comments

Filed under other, Relationships

9 responses to “Fixing Everything for Everyone… or Not.

  1. I let go of my job! In other words, I quit. Because I needed to let go of all the things that I thought I should be doing. And it was making me literally sick. So I let it go of the feeling of obligation towards things I genuinely didn’t care about and weren’t good for me.
    Funny though – this, like so many other things you try to let go of, feels kind of like an ongoing letting go. It doesn’t go all in one shot. I don’t know if it’s that you let it go in pieces, or if it’s that you let the whole thing go again and again and again. But I think even that part of it is necessary in some way. or that’s what I tell myself anyway, when I don’t want to feel like I’m doing a bad job of self-betterment…

    • Yay you! I want to hear more about your job-quitting… I quit my job (am still there… also I’ve probably mentioned that a million times, so sorry if you already knew), and it’s encouraging to hear other people are doing the same.

      Interesting point, that the letting go is an ongoing process. I think you’re right: it happens in stages.

      • Thanks! I’m taking all the “YAY MEs” I can get these days. And YAY YOU too! For me, it came down to health. I’ve been unwell for several months now, and trying to keep a float at work while trying to deal with medical things was, in my opinion, making things worse. So I said “Enough!” and once my health issues have been dealt with I’m gong to put my energies into figuring what my next work step will be – I can’t be in another job situation where stress makes me sick!
        But it’s a scary step, right? Taking care of oneself can be really frightening, in part because you need to confront head-on the fact that you need taking care of at all.

  2. Kristine

    I like this answer. Go you for living just a little bit more for yourself. One of the reasons I’m nervous about having a wedding is that I know it won’t be perfect and I don’t know if anyone will even want to come.

    I’m trying to be a lot braver these days. One of the things I need to let go of is worrying so much about what others think of me, especially people I don’t even know. I’m doing better with it – the fact I can actually post a rambly comment is proof of that – but these worries still prevent me from doing things. This is something I need to fix.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Kristine! Your wedding will be perfect! Or perfect enough… that is my theory. Honestly, I would have liked to have been a little more present or emotional during the ceremony, but that is balanced out by how happy and emotional I feel looking at the pictures and remembering it all after the fact.

      I love your rambly comment and your blog! Yay you for being braver.

  3. Lethe

    I am trying to let go of not feeling like I am good enough the way I am. In many different areas of my life.

    And: “how do you find the boundaries between being supportive and taking care of your self?”

    I struggle so much with this question, probably like many people in the helping professions. When you don’t think you’re good enough just because of WHO you ARE, you often start to value yourself based instead on WHAT you can DO for people. And that sets you up for all kinds of acts of self-denial in service of “helping” others, that in the end just wear you out and don’t help anybody. This year for the first time I really burned myself out on that, so I’m trying to let go of that old way of seeing myself and build myself back up into a different person for the new year.

    • This is fascinating: “When you don’t think you’re good enough just because of WHO you ARE, you often start to value yourself based instead on WHAT you can DO for people.”

      I got your comment on my phone while I was at work and have been thinking about this all day. How do we parse out who we are vs. what we can do? I mean, how can we tell which is which? Hmm. I’m still turning this over in my head; I think I DO value myself based quite a bit on what I can do for other people… but also for myself. Where is the line?

  4. Great prompt and great response! Thanks for sharing!
    And you’re right – living your life for other people really is no life at all.

    p.s. I’ve been lurking on your blog for a little bit. I love your insights into making your relationship work. It’s so sweet!

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