Hugs, hate and happiness

I could tell a storm was brewing as soon as my daughter stepped off the bus.
After about an hour of hanging her head, she started crying.
I gave her the biggest hug I could. I felt helpless. She wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. Eventually, she felt better and I let her go.
Then her youngest brother jumped on her from the couch as she laid on the floor, doing her homework. And the waterworks started again.
I later learned that she was sad because she found a pencil container she made for my last birthday in one of the toy boxes.
She thought I didn’t like her. I remember cleaning toys off my desk, I didn’t remember what happened to the pencil container. But I put it back on the desk and reassured her.
I knew how she felt. I felt like that a lot as a child … and as an adult.

***

You’ve just spent 12 hours at work and it’s a race night. You come home, expecting the race clothes to be ready and everyone sleeping so they’ll be awake in the morning.
When you open the door, the race clothes are strewn all over the living room. Everyone is watching music videos on YouTube. You sigh, remind everyone it’s race night, and hurriedly pack before trying to go to sleep.
The scene wouldn’t matter much to you usually. However, it seems like a repeat of your work shift.
People complain while you quietly toil in your cubicle. If they knew your entire story, how you’re day was before you got there; what you’re doing now, they’d be quiet. And then you’d be gossip-fodder for months to come, so you keep quiet.
The resentment begins. You feel like no one understands, likes or cares enough to do what you need them to do. So you do it for them.
After a while, those feeling eat at you. You become angry, apathetic, or sometimes depressed. You want a mental and physical vacation, but know if you stop, whatever you’ve built will collapse.
After the four-hundredth time someone says, “You don’t look so great, you should take a day off,” you snap.
You may act out.
Or you may do what I did, take a mental vacation despite your best efforts. I reached point where I didn’t care any more. Sure, I did what needed to be done, but my work was sloppy, as was my care of the household. Then, after a glorious seven-plus hours of sleep, I realized how stupid this self-created drama had been.
I plotted a new course. It’s still in a hazy focus, but my family and I know where I’m headed.

***

My family went out of town this weekend. It reminded me how important it is to take time for myself. I was able to do what I wanted, when I wanted. I also went for my longest run since August, eight miles.
It was bitter cold. As I ran, my eyes watered as the sting of the cold air hit my cheeks.
I didn’t plan on eight miles. I just wanted to run for about an hour and see what I could do.
I hadn’t run at all the previous week. And I had a pinched nerve in my shoulder that had lingered for three days. Lifting my arm above should height was painful.
So I wanted to see if I could run with this injury. As the miles began to pile up, I feel better. I laid out my goals more. I relaxed again, looking back on how I tried to be everyone but myself. I felt that I had to do all this work to keep my family afloat. Instead, I crumbled, but my family was still there. I “had” to put in extra hours in at work because I thought no one else could do what I did. Every place I’ve worked at survived my departure.
In essence, I had to let go. Do the best I can and let the rest sit for another day.
So I’ve narrowed my focus: Get myself healthy, super clean my house, and figure out what I’d like to accomplish next year.
I came upon this tree as I ran. It looks as if the inside was eaten out, leaving the bark and limbs. That was me. I lost my center because I got lost in focusing so much on others for a while. I let negativity get the best of me, eating my soul, leaving only a shell.
I know I’ve said something like this before, but it’s time to do something new.

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