Feeling Overwhelmed? I see you. I feel you. I am you.

Feeling OverwhelmedFeeling overwhelmed? Here are some insights, a little empathy, and a few tools to help you feel better!

Note: This is a guest essay by Becky Vollmer.

Dear Stranger,

We may not have been properly introduced, but I know so much about you. Because I see you. I feel you.

I am you.

I know what it’s like to appear put together on the outside but feel like a broken, fraudulent, fragmented mess on the inside, where the rickety scaffolding of responsibilities and emotions seems held together by duct tape, krazy glue and sheer will.

I share the quirks and insecurities and faulty logic and questionable ways of processing, some of them “cute” and some of them counterproductive and some of them just downright damaging to goals and relationships.

Feeling overwhelmed?

I see your defense mechanisms spring into action, perhaps before you do, because I recognize them in myself.

Feeling OverwhelmedLike you, I hear that incessant voice in my head – the one that’s alternately raging and whimpering and judgy, but never, ever seems to shut up – when what I so desperately need is quiet.

And I understand that sense of flooding, when a million thoughts and feelings ambush you at once, and they refuse to be organized or verbalized or controlled in any way.

It’s like being Dorothy in the tornado, where it’s raining cats and dogs.

And a barrage of ping-pong balls. Underwater.

I get what it’s like to feel overwhelmed.

I know what it’s like to wish you were little again, with nothing but innocence and optimism, before you had any inkling that the world could be a cruel place.

And I, too, long for a time before responsibilities and considerations and extenuating circumstances and tradeoffs, and life’s biggest choices were between chocolate and vanilla.

Forty-one years old and I still want my Mommy.

feeling overwhelmedI know from experience what it feels like to not be able to forgive and wipe the slate clean, but rather to carry a grudge and hold on to the past when you know it’s in your better interest to surrender to the present. I’ve been known to hang on for years.

The way you want to soothe the evening’s sadness, loneliness, boredom, angst by overindulging in food, shopping, exercise, sex, Facebook, wine?

Yeah, I feel that, too. Especially the wine.

Except it’s not only at night. I feel it all day long.

And I don’t just want to “have” a drink, as in something to consume; I want “to drink,” as in an action verb. But I hang on to sobriety, every damn day.

I know you sometimes say things you wish you hadn’t or feel things you wish you didn’t.

Like the pang of jealousy over a friend’s fancy new car or house or promotion.

Or the flash of judgment toward the “fat girl” daring to wear the midriff top or bikini bottom, when your own Feeling Overwhelmedcellulite’s looking particularly dimply.

(Or just about any snarky thing you could attribute back to your constant state of PMS.)

I know what it’s like to feel with such intensity that you think you might explode. Or implode. Maybe not be able to uncurl from the fetal position no matter how hard you try.

Yes, I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed.

I, too, have cried until it seemed my eyes couldn’t possibly produce any more tears and screamed until I made myself hoarse, and have fallen asleep sitting up with my head in my hands, empty with exhaustion.

I know the way you say one thing and then do another, you glorious little hypocrite, because I’m one, too.

I’m an old pro at setting a goal and pursuing it with gusto, for about a week or so, before it gets to complicated or tiresome or I (accidentally) forget it was a priority. And procrastinating to put off what your heart knows you don’t want to do, whether you admit it or not? Yes, I’m familiar with that.

Feeling OverwhelmedRemember, I’m the one who used to stand in front of the freezer, coat on and laptop bag over my shoulder, eating ice cream straight out of the carton to delay the act of going to a job that took more than it gave.

I understand wondering if you might be more lovable if you were just a little thinner.

Or younger.

Or nicer.

Or had better hair.

Or more smarts.

Or less baggage.

Because I do it, too.

You might think this all makes you different than everyone else. An outlier. But, actually, it makes you the same.

It makes you human.

We’ve all got a touch of humanity in us, thank goodness. And better than that, we’ve got even more of the divine. For we’re all made from that same priceless cosmic pixie dust, you see. We’re all ah-maz-ing.

Feeling OverwhelmedTrue story.

We may search and struggle and learn our lessons the hard way. We may do one thing when we know we’d be better off to do another. We may have spent decades on this planet but are just now beginning to figure our shit out.

But we’re just like everyone else.

So don’t bother hiding your true self. You can’t fool me. Remember, we already know one another. Because we are one another.

And we heal each other when we say out loud, “Look! I’m broken, too! AREN’T WE BEAUTIFUL?

Thank you, beautiful stranger, for showing yourself to me. You remind me that I’m not too broken to start over. That I’m not unlovable. That I’m not alone.

And neither are you.

Note: This is a guest essay by Becky Vollmer.

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