Last week I shared that I recently closed my online membership. In short, my team and I have been spread way too thin, and that way of working and serving felt out of alignment.
Here’s a fuller version of the story for anyone who’d like a glimpse behind the scenes of a small, passion-driven, single-mother owned and exclusively mother-run business:
A few weeks ago I was talking with my therapist (who knows me very well given our decade of working together) about how I love my work but that it feels increasingly draining. I briefly described some of the factors contributing to my exhaustion and overwhelm, to which she responded:
“I’m not surprised.”
I was all ears. Jennifer is one of the sharpest elder-peers I know, and when she drops truth bombs, it’s always with radical discernment and masterful skill. Paraphrasing, she said:
“For nearly 20 years, you were in a super chaotic marriage. On top of that you had four kids and barely enough money to pay your bills while raising those kids through crises and relentless overstimulation. Chaos is familiar to you. It’s normal. You know exactly who to be in a chaotic environment. So it’s not surprising to me–now that you’ve cleaned up the chaos in your personal life–that it’s snuck into your professional life without you even realizing what was happening.”
Eureka. Mind blown.
I still wasn’t clear on where the chaos was leaking in, exactly, but her words felt unequivocally true.
Then, about a week later during a team meeting, Brandy listed for us the 80 gazillion tasks that would need our attention before the holiday break given the total remodel of our membership we were planning for the first of the year.
Boom, immediate overwhelm and exhaustion.
I responded with something like, “Okay, wow, soooo, let’s make an agreement to get really honest with ourselves this time next year about whether or not this is working for us, because we’re pouring a LOT of time, energy, and resources into this thing for the financial return.
And suddenly, the question was right there in front of us, messy and promising and impossible to ignore:
Do we WANT to pour another whole year’s worth of resources into this thing? Would that even be wise?
And just like that, the doors swung open and truth started pouring out:
The truth about how many times over the past year we’ve joked as a team (during extra stressful, impossible-feeling moments) that we should have gotten into the business of selling aquarium supplies or become mail carriers.
The truth that for over a year, I was waking up at night with a vague sense that I was neglecting my community no matter how hard I’d been working.
The truth that the Virtual Village was born of our observation of endless unmet needs, and the more threads we pulled, the more unmet needs were revealed.
The truth that our resources are limited here at RFH and that while our desire to be of service is endless, our capacity is not.
The truth that adding more support groups, more calls, more grief vigils, guest speakers and the many things we were planning to roll out in 2024 feels eerily familiar: with my children nearly grown, my codependency (“I’ll be okay when everyone else is okay”) sneakily found a new endless source of unmet needs to satisfy its compulsion to be of constant service.
It feels important to share this story for several reasons:
The relief I feel having made this decision is immense and was immediate. (That’s not always the case, btw, but it sure is a nice bonus when it happens that way.)
And you? Where have you noticed codependency changing form and sneaking back into your life?
Heart wide open and well protected,