I let someone down recently. They saw a side of me I genuinely hate but can’t seem to change.
I have “compulsive completion disease”. If there’s a job that needs doing, I throw myself into it and knock tasks off the to-do list with wild abandon. I honestly can’t help myself and usually don’t realize I’ve overstepped my bounds until it’s too late. I was the kind of kid in school who completed class projects weeks before their due date, who looked forward to homework, who hated group projects, and who reminded the teacher that he had forgotten that extra credit assignment for us to turn in on Monday. If you *were* in a class project with me? You probably got an A but didn’t get to do much.
My mom has it, too. When she comes to watch the kids, she often puts in a load of laundry and unloads the dishwasher. She brings rolls of paper towels and reorganizes my pantry. It drives me nuts.
I used to feel like she helped out because she thought I couldn’t handle the housework … as if her assistance was a quiet judgement of my diminishing value as a housekeeper.
But really, that was just how I felt about myself. I was the only person who thought her help was about me.
I’ve learned to let her help. I ignore the thoughts that feel annoyed and focus on accepting her assistance, because the truth is that I really do need it with the housework and the girls. And I’ve learned when to ask her not to help… because the truth is that there are times I want to do things for myself, and I want her to respect those boundaries. She does.
A friend asked me to step back recently. To help less and to listen more. And that my personality hurt her somehow is eating at me. I know I always seem so wise and so in control of the shame that plagues us all, but this one, I just can’t shake.
I’ve apologized. She and I are okay. I know that my imperfection does not make me unworthy of her friendship. But I know I’ve let her down. I loathe letting people down as much as I adore helping people – which just goes to show that I’m equating my self-worth with my accomplishments instead of believing that I am worthy of love and belonging despite what I do or what mistakes I make.
Letting accomplishments feed my joy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when I find myself clutching success with an iron grip in fear of losing people I love, I need to reexamine my motivations.
I’m a do-er. It’s a part of who I am.
But I want to do better at doing less.