Home > Family, Friends, Love, Parenting > Jump out of the damn pot

Jump out of the damn pot

Today I visited with friends.

I haven’t done that much since I had my second child last year.

Emily "made" us visit a few weeks ago, bless her.

Emily “made” us visit a few weeks ago, bless her.

I haven’t had the time or energy. Since I already drive at least three hours each weekday, I haven’t wanted to negotiate drives further than five minutes away from home on the weekends. Weekday evenings have been completely out of the question.

My husband’s nudged me toward the door. He’s encouraged me to make time with girlfriends, suggesting it’ll lift me up like no words on a screen ever could. I’ve waved him off, thinking I was doing myself a favor by avoiding the drive, the time, the emotional output.

I knew my husband was right when my heart plummeted as my friends walked away today. I wanted to shout, “Don’t leave! Please! Let’s just stay here for another ten minutes! Or five? I’d even take three!” Instead, I quietly helped pack my family’s things with tears in my eyes.

I couldn’t quite place the feeling until my family and I were halfway home. I rested my face against my car’s passenger side window and breathed in and out slowly, trying to stop myself from crying and alarming my very perceptive five-year-old son.

It hit me: This is how I used to feel when my siblings left after visiting me while I was in law school.

They’d visit for a handful of days. I’d love their nearness but be grumpy how their things cluttered my space.

But when they left, my apartment felt so empty. I’d wilt a little, walking back into my empty apartment knowing it would be months before I’d see my family again. I could fend for myself well enough, even all alone, but it was so much easier with them nearby.

I had that same feeling today: I can’t go another year without seeing you guys. I can’t. I won’t make it.

Only hours before, I’d read blogger Elyse’s suggestion for someone newly diagnosed with chronic illness: “If something little seems hardly worth mentioning – JUMP ANYWAY!!! JUMP OUT OF THE DAMN POT!”

I tweeted Elyse’s post, saying her advice was great for life at large, not just for chronic illness. Maybe that’s why her words came to mind when I recognized my sadness as missing. As needing time with my friends, more than once a year. I’d felt twinges of it over the past months, but got used to those twinges: my new normal, one of seldom seeing friends live. Never bursting into shared uproarious laughter, picking nachos off the same plate, listening to live music together, or hugging when we say farewell.

Remembering what it’s like outside boiling water, I picked up my phone and texted two of my local girlfriends, telling them how much I missed them. I added, “I have fallen into hermitude since [Littler J]. I need to work against that.” Each quickly reminded me I’ll see her next weekend.

I immediately emailed the friends I saw this afternoon to thank them. I emailed my girlfriend Brandy separately. Talking with her today eased my heart in ways it hasn’t been eased for what feels like millenia.

Also, our kids are adorable together.

Also, our kids are adorable together.

Brandy’s expecting her second child soon. I sent her special thanks as well as encouragement to reach out before and after her second child arrives. I let her know I’ll be messaging her, too.

I spent so much time crying on my living room floor as I tried adjusting to having two children. Looking back, it’s pretty clear it needn’t have been that way.

I don’t want anyone else to feel like that, especially not my friends.

Today’s visit and my follow-up notes mean I’m partially out of boiling water. To get all the way I out, I need to keep seeing my friends–their smiles, their pauses to reflect, their waves as we part ways.

I’m committed to climbing out. My husband and I will have to set up an alternating evenings-out plan, the way we did when we had just one child.

I will climb out of this boiling water that started out as only slightly warm water.

I hope you’ll take heed if you’ve been sitting in increasingly warm water.

Warm water starts boiling pretty darn fast. If you feel the warmth now, start climbing out now. Avoid the burns.

If you’re mother to a young child or young children, email friends. Phone them. Text. Ask for help, or companionship, or a little time away. If one person says “no,” that’s just one person. There are more who’ll be happy to help keep you out of boiling water.

They’re called “friends,” these people who want to keep you out of boiling water.

They don’t want you to suffer alone, and they’re worth so much more than gold.

My husband read this and suggested an addendum,
probably applicable to all friends to those with young kids:

“Friends! Call me! Even if I say ‘no’ ten times,
I miss you and I might need that eleventh time!
Please keep calling!”

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  1. July 25, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Glad you did it and I guess you will do it again soon 🙂

    • July 25, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      I actually set up two friend gatherings on back-to-back weekends, or I’d be feeling pretty gloomy now! Knowing friend time is already lined up for next week is such a load off. ♥

      • July 25, 2015 at 8:10 pm

        Awesome! We tend to have friends over or go and see friends every weekend. Sometimes it suddenly feels like too much and then we just skip a weekend to recover.

        • July 25, 2015 at 8:17 pm

          I think I’m going to aim for something like this from now on!

          • July 25, 2015 at 8:50 pm

            I just feel it’s such a boost of energy to catch up with friends. As you mentioned in your post.

  2. July 25, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    I had not actually thought of how this applied in my own life but you struck a chord. I have also isolated myself after the second kid. It has seemed too emotionally draining to even think about socializing with real, live people. But after having lunch with my partners a while back, I wanted to cry from relief. Just getting to know what I was feeling and experiencing…my frustrations… I was not alone. I felt human again. I will have to jump out of the pot. Thank you. And thank you, Elyse. 🙂

    • July 25, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      I think I’d seen it happening, but I didn’t really understand how dramatically it was impacting me until today. Driving back in the car was when I went, “Wait, when did that happen? We’d had a good groove going … ” until numero dos, when everything flew out the window and we were building from what felt like scratch.

      I’m so glad I sent the let’s-get-together email on a whim a couple weeks back! As you said, “I was not alone. I felt human again.” This actually reminds me of teaching English in rural Japan. I loved my kids’ hugs so, so very much, but they didn’t feel the same as hugs from adults who saw me as I was (not as a mystical grown-up) and loved me anyway. I remember feeling hug-starved when I’d been away from the U.S. for too long. I don’t think it’d hit me I could feel that while actually in the U.S., but that’s what happened.

      Now that I see it, I need to work against it. It’s better for my husband, my kids, and (indubitably!) for me.

      (So thankful for Elyse’s post!)

  3. July 25, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I hadn’t thought of the boiling frog theory in terms of friendships. But you’re right. We let ourselves drift away from friends because our lives are overwhelming us. We need our friends! They’re a big part of what makes life grand!

    Thanks for the shout-out!

    • July 25, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      They really are a big part of what makes life grand! When I was thinking only in terms of energy-out, I was forgetting how very much joy, love and energy-in comes from a couple of hours sitting with friends. Even if it takes a couple of hours in traffic to reach them. 🙂

      • July 25, 2015 at 8:25 pm

        Traffic. Ugh. The blight on our lives!

  4. July 25, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    My own chronic illness means I spend waaaay too much time in overheated water. And some at least of that is my own fault. Sigh.
    And thank you, and your friend Elyse for the reminder.

    • July 26, 2015 at 5:22 am

      As I’ve been going through deleted posts, I found a few showing I’ve learned a lesson like this before … in other contexts. What will it take to apply that generalized knowledge to every applicable case? I wish there were a pill to take for it! Since there’s not, I’m grateful to Elyse for the reminder. 🙂

  5. July 25, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Yay! You jumped and landed in a soft place. I once had a frog jump out of the soil of a houseplant I had left outside for a couple days after potting. When I brought it in and began to water it, a frog jumped out and scared me silly. Your story reminded me of this. You’ve been watered!

  6. July 25, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Great advice. Even supermom needs recharge and be goofy with friends time.

    • July 26, 2015 at 5:25 am

      Yes! I spend a lot of time pointing myself toward the good I know is there. This morning, I awakened immediately attuned to it, with no extra push needed. So glad friend time’s already on the calendar for next weekend! (I think my best bet is ensuring there’s always something on the calendar, even if it’s a few weeks out.)

  7. July 26, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    It’s so easy to get used to a less than full existence and think that it’s “normal”. Then you wake up one day and realize that something very important is missing. Good for you for jumping out of the pot sooner rather later.

    • July 28, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      That’s exactly right, and applies to so many circumstances in life! I hope I become increasingly skilled at figuring out sooner than later. Wisdom with leaping? 🙂

  8. July 27, 2015 at 3:42 am

    This applies whether you have children or not. I have increasingly isolated myself since my divorce. Some of it was very much needed, I needed the alone time to put myself back together. But truly now it has become a habit. You are right and it is starting to hurt.

    • July 27, 2015 at 5:11 am

      I think it applies to so many parts of life. Some pain starts out small and it comes to feel, even as it grows, like part of the small cost of living. The fact it needn’t be fact gets obscured by all the other noise of life.

      After a weekend filled with visiting friends I’ve missed, I am determined to create new habits. Seeing friends makes everything brighter.

  9. July 27, 2015 at 6:28 am

    This was a great post for me to read since I’ve been doing the exact same thing lately, especially last week. I had a friend trying to get together with me I think but told her I needed to retreat within myself. As this new week starts up I can feel my introverted mind telling me you can come out of your hole so I’m planning to get out. It seems like I bunker down when things get rough and I like to process everything and get ‘normal’ before I go out again. I hope you can continue to spend time with your friends and have fun with them!

  10. July 27, 2015 at 10:36 am

    This is so true. I’ve found that even when I do see friends with our kids, it’s wonderful—but I really missed having an actual conversation that wasn’t interrupted by warning kids off their dangerous escapades or coaxing another bite of snack into their mouths. I hung out with some girlfriends a few weeks before giving birth to #2, and it was pretty much the best night out ever.

  11. July 27, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    This is a wonderful idea and I hope to try to meet up with some of my friends in someway since I am in the pot right now. I really need to reconnect with friends since my chronic pain and other chronic illnesses have kept me from being able to get out as much as I used to before things got to the point they are now. I hope to find a way to see my friends more frequently.

    Thank you for this post and the mental nudge I needed to get out of the pot.

  12. July 27, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Great advice. By the time the weekend rolls around, we mostly just want to stay at home, not go anywhere or do much of anything. Sometimes we go months without seeing our friends.

    • July 27, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      That’s how it’s been for us. Anthony’s more social, so he really, really tries to get out once in a while, but I? I hide in the living room and call it good, until I see friends and realize how much I’ve been missing.

  13. July 28, 2015 at 7:24 am

    This applies even if you have older children, you can still find yourself isolated and alone, especially if you have to pay a babysitter just to go hang out with friends – nurturing friendships take work and they take effort, and if they aren’t a priority, they can wither. It’s important at all stages to nourish the soil, and your soul! In my opinion at least 🙂

  14. July 29, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Good for you! It is so easy to just close yourself in when you are tired, stressed and overwhelmed by children and life. Like you said, you got used to your “new normal”. There is never an old normal when new members enter your family. The key is to create a nurturing “new normal”.

  1. July 26, 2015 at 7:36 pm
  2. August 2, 2015 at 10:45 am
  3. January 1, 2016 at 7:46 am

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