Daily Prompt – 1942

How do you balance work and home life?

As an aside, and I will do a follow up on this later: I think balance is actually a really poor word choice here that sets most of us up for failure. I believe the appropriate word choice for this type of concept is harmony. Nothing is ever equal. It is far more about having a coherence and synergy – like musical scales not literal scales. When a life is harmonized, all is as it is meant to be, and any activity in any area supports and enhances the others, i.e. harmony. Balance, as improperly used in this sense, gives the impression of robbing Peter to pay Paul, or that both must be equal, yet equality is impossible. Work can never be equal to the people you love, there’s no balance truly, a child is more important than a job. Harmony makes far more sense. Onward…

It used to be: I didn’t know what balance was and did too much at everything. I used to work 60+ hour weeks and travel – I was in sales. I started being able to work from home and that gave me the illusion I could get even more done. Ya know, now, in between calls I can clean or cook or whatever. But that just really made me freak out about the house and constantly be cleaning and working. Feeling guilty that I’m cleaning and feeling guilty I’m working bc either way, I had so much shit to do. I’d even make big home cooked dinners every night, and I’d generally clean and do all the laundry myself. Then, when everything was done and the kids were in bed, I’d hit the gym and prolly really sit for the first time around 10:30/before I went to bed. (I call this my Stepford period.)

Not too long before going to the mental hospital the first time, I said “I am burning my candle at both ends and the middle, something bad is going to happen to me soon, I can feel it” I really need more help with everything. Spoiler alert: I got none.

So, I was right and I had my first nervous breakdown. And one of the worst, most fucked up feeling I’ve ever had was thank god, somebody else can help me or take care of me. I don’t have to cook, I don’t have to do dishes. I was so relieved and thankful that I was going to the mental hospital. Once I got there, not so much. It was fucking terrifying. But that was the thought. At least I just don’t fucking have to do shit.

So, for a few more years I kept trying. Dialing back this or that and going to the mental hospital and not working for however many months. (I call this my I might be fucked up period.)

In 2017, I had psychosis/5th hospitalization. I was working full time and now a single mom. My balance, so to speak, had become really trying to stick to my hours bc I had to handle the kids. If I was 9-5, then I’m done at 5. Sometimes I stuck to it, sometimes I’m trying to finish work. Help with homework, cook dinner. Put people to bed whatever. And If I didn’t have the kids, well, sometimes I worked til midnight bc I was really overworked. They constantly (because they knew I was capable) would like give me 3 FTEs worth of shit to do, and I’d get ‘er done. And I was writing on top of it. Like I am now, every second of my spare time is spent writing. (I call this my psychotic, schizophrenic, drunken whore phase, so I guess certainly not writing every second….)

I haven’t worked at a paying job since that psychotic break. I guess now work and home are one in the same, and I’m still not great at any kind of proper balance. It was so fucking hard for so long bc I attached so much worth and validation to being such a super star at everything. Like everything had to be perfect, above and beyond whatever. My bosses had to tell me how amazing I am. Now, I’ve had to learn to just be nice to and about myself. Like even if the kids trash my kitchen after I’ve cleaned it for several hours, I have to say shit like I know you cleaned it, I know you did a great fucking job, they are dicks and they will clean it back up. Just breathe.

I actually get really pissed when people refer to me or speak as if I don’t have a job. Like, let’s go back to the 50s, I’m a perfectly normal housewife who deserved every quaalude she could get. And cocaine coke. Maybe I could get a taste for martinis even if I find olives repulsive. And whatever other good shit they had back then. Way better drugs.

I wouldn’t have this lingering guilt or sense that I’m worthless bc I’m not working. I fucking work, I just don’t get paid, acknowledged, or validated. Which I needed to learn how to do that shit for myself anyway so I’d stop being this fucking idiot killing herself desperate for anybody to say she’s a good girl. Like a fucking sentient dog on two legs.

So, recently, I’ve been very firm that I don’t want to be disturbed if I’m writing. Like, back in the day, I had little people with big needs. Now I have teenagers that just generally don’t want to believe they have BO, eat everything, ignore everything I say, and genuinely feel entitled to literally whatever crosses their minds. I can be busy doing literally anything that fills my colander and they can generally figure it out. Fuck, I even taught these people how to cook so I didn’t have to do it every night.

They had the audacity to seem shocked that I wasn’t going to stop writing and bring them to the waterpark unless they actually did their chores and I actually felt like the house didn’t appear to be in day 6 of an exorcism. I got a lotta writing done yesterday.

But really, I don’t want to be a housewife anymore, like I basically decided to not work would at least keep me out of the mental hospital bc I wasn’t doing as much. That ain’t true, it just means everyone thinks “because I don’t have a job” I’m like the maid, chef, you name it. Same shit, different bosses, terrible pay. And I still ended up in the damn hospital with that same relieved feeling. (I call this my amorphous grey blob phase due to the fact I once again forgot I have a personality or am a person)

The balance (harmony) I guess I’ve really found is boundaries. The woman before had none and was basically everybody’s bitch. She didn’t ask for help, she didn’t ask for support with her constantly increasing work load, she just… took it all, did it all, and put up with others doing practically nothing.

I wanna be an author or blogger or comedienne. I don’t give a shit about cleaning my house anymore. I’ve spent years doing it, it’s like brushing my teeth and eating Oreos at the same time. I try to stay away from coulda, woulda, shoulda, but goddamn there’s a lotta fucking shit that I coulda wrote instead of constantly cleaning the house. But that’s not really fair anyway, I had to clean my metaphorical house before I could truly write. Ahhh how wise.

The woman babbling here has really started to understand that boundaries are a critical part of feeling okay. If I told someone to clean the kitchen, that is what I said and what I meant. Because all I want to do is write, I will not chase or beg or waste my energy on shit that ain’t mine. I know if I truly want this, I can’t keep blowing it off for toilets, unless I’ve somehow made a metaphor for them and school shootings.

Lately, the simple guidance I’ve followed is: you may not expect of me what you are unwilling to do or give yourself. This whole damn family has (due to me being a doormat) placed these insanely high expectations of me and yet can’t be bothered to put a dish in a dishwasher or throw trash away. I’m supposed to remember everything, do and be everything, and smile and act as if being everybody’s fucking bitch is somehow a good, happy, or fulfilling life. Spoiler alert: I was fucking miserable until 24 days ago when I said fuck this, I shall write. (I call this coming out of the possessed noun phase)

So when I get the Mom can you blah blah blah, I’ve been saying no more. No: I asked the following things which have been ignored. Why do you think I will hop to for you and you can lay in bed and ignore me all day? No. If you treated your friends the way you treat me, you wouldn’t have any. Fucking love that line, they have nooooo comeback. Mic drop, Mom’s a bitch.

So, I guess boundaries are my balance (harmony). I may be a mom 24/7, but I do get to be myself as much as I’d like to as well. It’s quite necessary. I don’t like how it feels when I lose myself and for the longest time now, I’ve said and believed truly that my mental health is my primary job, and boy was I sucking.

It’s only now that my soul feels alive again that I realized how much I’ve been killing her. There are worse things than death and it’s been my life for awhile.

So, how do I balance work/home life? I remember that life – my life – is my most precious gift, invaluable currency, and my responsibility to ensure it is lived.

That makes it easier for me to focus, and I suppose balance (but I really think the word is harmonize) appropriately. Dishes will always get dirty, but I only have one me, and nobody can care for her but me.

Thanks! (Or I’m sorry!) for stopping by! Thanks so much to everyone who has been leaving such amazing comments and having some great convos with me. It’s a privilege to get to babble with all of you deeply talented and cool individuals!

10 thoughts on “Daily Prompt – 1942

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  1. It’s hard to set boundaries when there were none before. Especially with those who aren’t used to them. Good for you! Your mental health is more important than anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear you! It’s been years and I finally feel like I’m starting to get it. I remember my first inpatient they said “if you don’t have boundaries, you have no idea where you end and someone else begins, and then you have problems that aren’t even yours” that really stuck with me! Thank you so much! I hope you’re doing well too!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve only been inpatient once, (thank god) but I feel ya. I also had that feeling of now I don’t have to do it all. so I understand that too. It’s a weird feeling.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Ugh I’m sorry you get that but it’s also cool to know somebody else does. I ran away to a casino last weekend bc I had that same kind of feeling and I was like, dude I’m not doing this shit again in grippy socks. Somebody can cook and do my dishes while I sit in a hot tub too ya know? Lol it was really cracking me up all last weekend thinking about it. I guess it’s one of those “shit you never thought you’d say/think/do” lol

        Liked by 2 people

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