I was on Instagram yesterday and came across a picture that really upset me. This is what it said:
I don’t know if I was hangry and it struck a nerve the wrong way or what, but my first thought reading it was, “you don’t know my life!”
I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t even bother complaining about being so busy. This is the path I’ve chosen. I suppose I’ve reached a state of complacency. This is the new normal. It has been for almost four years now.
I work full time. I am enrolled in classes for my BCBA credential which I watch videos for every day after work. And in between all of that, I find time to sleep, eat, exercise, errands, and maybe if I’m lucky, I will get to spend time mindlessly scrolling on my phone or reading a book, or texting a friend to check in. I don’t even have free weekends. The downside of working full time is the only spare time I have for my online meeting and tests is on the weekend. Saturday mornings, too. Thank goodness I’m a morning person. But that eats up time I have and takes it away from someone else.
Guilt is such a useless emotion, yet one that seems to overpower me at least once a week. I succumb to my anxiety and get overwhelmed by the guilt of not being a good enough friend because I still haven’t invited them over, or made plans to see them, or have texted them to check in, or any of those emotions. I feel guilty when my schedule doesn’t align with my mom’s and I can’t help her run errands or even come in for a visit after work because it doesn’t line up right. I feel guilty and I cry about it, which takes me further away from my to-do list and further into a hole of self-loathing and shallow breaths.
Then I read that quote: “If they truly care, they will make time.”
And I’m crying all over again.
It’s not that I don’t care about you. If you are my friend, and truly my friend, you would try to understand and be patient with me. Maybe I can’t meet up in person but we could chat over video messaging, a phone call, text, it’s 2019 for goodness sake! But know that it’s not that I don’t care about you. It’s that I care about me.
What kind of friend would I be if I agreed to hang out and wasn’t really listening to our conversation because I was going over my to-do list in my head the entire time? Sitting there and suppressing every negative thought I have only to potentially have a panic attack the second I get in my car? I love you. I do. But one of my methods of getting through the week is setting up a “time budget” where I allocate my time into rough categories. It helps me feel safe, with flexible boundaries, and organized. I am calm when things are organized. It is not that I don’t want to make time for you or that you’re not important, but at this stage in my life, I have other things that are important to me and my well-being.
As a lovely friend stated last night, “if you truly care, you won’t ask someone to overextend themselves when they’re too busy.”
I’m doing the best I can with the time I have and the circumstances I have chosen or have been handed to me. And for that, I am unapologetically selfish.