Looking at Life through Your Own Eyes

I spent a lot of years feeling inadequate for everything I didn’t get done. I finally realized I was looking at things backwards.

I took a lot of criticism for the dishes not done. The floors not mopped. The laundry piled up. I felt incompetent, unorganized, and worst of all, lazy.

Seeing my life through the eyes of someone else was a mistake. Feeling inadequate because I didn’t live my life by someone else’s standards was a huge mistake. Because seeing my life, through someone else’s eyes, didn’t give a true picture. It simply showed me what they saw. And they saw very little.

They didn’t see that my priority wasn’t my house. What mattered to me were my children. And our circumstances weren’t normal. My older son became ill at a very young age. It took several years before his illness became life-threatening. My youngest son has cerebral palsy. His disability demanded a lot of time and attention.

We got through the illnesses and the surgeries. But those early years set me up to have unrealistic expectations of my own time. I’d given it freely. Illness and disability do that to a person. But I lost sight of my own needs and wants.

When I finally surfaced and discovered within myself a need to write, my oldest son was grown and married. My youngest son was an artist. Because of his disability, he needed me, and I’m conditioned to put children first.

I don’t even know how to describe the conflict that raged within me. I needed. But so did my son. Add to the mix my husband, my house, the pets, my horses. I was drowning in need. How was I supposed to make it all work?

I already knew the person least likely to get their needs met was me. I was weighed down by guilt for the things that didn’t get done. It wasn’t until I sat down one day and started to write out the things I do that I was struck by a great truth.

There are only so many minutes in a day. When I started to list the things I actually did, I was truly astounded. I’m not lazy. I’m over-burdened. I get a lot done; just not always the things that someone else finds important. I work rings around most people.

I took that knowledge and traveled back through my memories. My gosh. When I looked at my life, with wide-open eyes, I’m proud of how I handled things. Instead of feeling inadequate and guilty, I should have been screaming for help.

Knowing that didn’t solve my current problem. I still needed to carve out time for me without taking it from the ones who need me.

To do that, I wrote down everything that needed done. And I assigned it a time limit. I found out real fast there weren’t enough hours in the day. I had to pare down my list, and do it with ruthless honesty.

My horses were the first to go; and the hardest to give up. I found out, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t carve enough time out of the day to give them. They had to go. I mourn their loss, but I know I made the right choice.

I discovered that if I got up at 5:30, I could have three solid hours of writing time before my son got up. My time. I guard it like a hawk. When my husband tells me I should get up and tackle the house first, I stand firm. I don’t go on the housekeeping clock until 9am. My time is sacred. I will adjust when necessary, but I better have fair warning and a good reason. Respect my time.

I know my weaknesses. I’m a poor housekeeper. I don’t enjoy it. Despise would be closer to the mark so when I discovered that I can’t do it all, I chose to get help in the housekeeping department.

I got lucky. My neighbor’s daughter came to work for me. Clean follows her around. She has changed my life. With her help, I am finally able to carve out the time I need.

Looking at the things I do, instead of the things I don’t, has helped me gain a better perspective of my life. I don’t worry any more about the things I don’t accomplish. That’s backward thinking.

Instead, I look at the things I accomplish, and it feels good. No more guilt. No more negativity. I work hard. Maybe not on the things that matter to somebody else, but on things that matter to me. I’m looking at life through my eyes, and it’s a beautiful thing.

About C. L. Roth

C. L. Roth was born and raised in Kansas. She has a deep love for the prairie state, the Flint Hills in particular. She is married, has two sons, four grandchildren, is an artist, writer and full-time caregiver. Life experience has taught her that normal doesn't exist, it's the journey that matters, and the best way to succeed is simply: Never Give Up.
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