Guilt runs silently through my veins. It used to motivate much of what I did without me realizing it! Has this ever happened to you? You might not be aware of it, because guilt can be sneaky, swift and silent. Believe me, I know firsthand. I used to run myself into the ground trying to make everyone happy. And my ego felt it was an insult if someone asked if they could help me. Who me… need help? No, no, no I am fine. I can do it, whatever it was at the moment.
Perhaps it was fixing a dinner for twenty people by myself or painting every room in the house. I could do it all! It really was true, I could do it all, but at what cost? I often exhausted myself to the point of feeling used and unloved. Is any of this sounding familiar?
I could clean the house until it shined, fix a dinner for twenty people without a hitch, and clean up after with minimal dish washing help. Heaven forbid, in those days I did not own a dishwasher, and I wore that like a badge of honor. Those were the “good” old days; thank goodness I have out grown them. But it wasn’t a stress free process, to go from there to here, but it sure was worth it. It took many hours of personal foundation work and personal coaching for me to understand my real worth.
I came slowly to realize that I was equating extra hard work with my ability to be a good mother, great wife and better friend. Let me say here that I am still a hard worker. It is part of my very DNA. The difference is today I work hard at what “I” truly want to work at. It is not decided by that sneaky guilt. I have finally reached a place of softness for myself. I am able to treat myself as gently as I do others. This past Christmas I was truly able to see how far I have come.
Christmas Eve is a time of celebration for my family and a wonderful meal is one of the ways we celebrate. Normally the person having the dinner does the majority of the cooking and more recently guests bring something to share. This year dinner was at my home and I was spending the previous day with my son and his family and staying overnight. This meant if I was going to spend quality time with my granddaughters who live some distance away, and truly enjoy them, I would not be at my own home until a couple of hours before guests arrived. If it was still the good old days, I would have either not stayed over or worse yet, stayed and hurried home frantically trying to fix dinner. Why? Simply because of the guilt…it is what a good mother does. Isn’t it?
This good mother did it differently this year. For the first time ever I ordered the meal from a nearby restaurant that caters. I made arrangements to pick up our meal in route home from my son’s house on Christmas Eve. We had grilled chicken that fell off the bone, deep dish lasagna, Italian bread, and I made a big tossed salad with tons of veggies. I even ordered the desserts from the restaurant. We dined on four layer carrot cake and coconut cream pie! My husband, when hearing my plans, applauded the idea and was so excited that I would care for myself in this way that he offered to pay for it. In reality it was not much more expensive that buying all the food and cooking it myself. Not to mention it was wonderfully delicious. Who knew?
This gave me breathing space and it also gave breathing space to my guests. They were told to bring NOTHING! Candles were lit on the two tables that were nestled close together, the lights were dim and a very strange thing occurred. Everyone stayed seated in conversation for a long time after eating. Why do you think this happened? My theory is that they were all feeding off of my completely relaxed state. We were experiencing a much different atmosphere than normal. For once I was not over heated, exhausted or hurried. I was able to be completely present and enjoy it as much as they did! We had a magical Christmas Eve without guilt. I even had enough energy left over to get up at 5am and go to Church with a neighbor who was singing at her Mass. She asked me to attend during dinner and I was able to say yes, knowing I would not be too tired.
Are you wondering about my wonderful husband? He kept getting thanked all night for purchasing our meal and I’m pretty sure it made him feel good to be part of our new way of living. By the way, yes, I do own a dishwasher now (although, I do often wash them by hand, when I choose to, it is simply the green in me now… not the guilt).
My wish for you this New Year is to create a life without guilt. You might have to dodge and weave a bit, but I know you can do it. If you need a little assistance to get started I have several coaching slots open and I offer a free 30-minute consultation to help you to decide if coaching is for you. I would love to hear from you! Email me here!
By Judith Geiger