(Originally published in 2008)
You’re not alone.
I’m typing this in bed, on the new laptop my IttyBiz readers bought me. (By the way? Thanks for that.) To my right, on the floor, on Jamie’s side of the bed, sit two Macintosh computers. They belong to my mother. For those of you who are new, I’ll take this opportunity to mention that my mother moved to Europe in 2005. I have yet to get off my ass to put them in storage.
To my left is a floor full of books. They used to live in my busted chipboard bookshelf, but Jack likes to play with them, taking them down and putting them back in an order he feels is more appropriate. The last time he played this game was about 10 days ago. The books are still on the floor. Neither of us can get into bed from the sides, so we come up from the foot.
Jack is covered in a rash from ankle to neck and scratches himself every hour of the day and night. My bathtub is full of baby sleepers and cold water where I tried, and failed, to get the blood out of his clothes. He is crying in his room and Jamie is trying to comfort him — nothing I was doing was helping and I am now under my covers sporting silent headphones, trying to drown out the noise so I can cry and type in peace.
I fear he either has or will shortly get an infection from the cuts that don’t heal, and all the doctor does is tell us to try Aveeno. Because I guess we never thought of that.
I missed a client call. I want to reschedule but everything is so up in the air, I don’t even know when to tell them. I feel horrible, guilt-ridden and sick. I feel like I’m drowning. I feel like my home business, doing what I love, is a fabulous sparkly present and I’m stomping on it daily.
I feel like every time I screw something up, little bits of sparkle wash down the drain and soon I will be left with nothing. I don’t know how in the hell I’m ever going to deliver on all of the promises I’ve made — promises I want to keep, promises I had every intention of keeping, promises that I didn’t think would be a problem.
There is no how-to in this post. I do not know how to dig my way out of this. Sometimes when something is wrong, it’s helpful to pretend that the problem belongs to someone else and you can think of the advice you’d give them. Unfortunately, under these circumstances, my advice would be trite and ridiculous. I would tell people to plug away, item by item, list by list, until they had fought their way out.
I think we all know that’s delightful advice in a vacuum, but it doesn’t account for emotional states that include bursting into tears watching Ellen give away $100 gift cards to Trader Joes. Overwhelm does not occur in a vacuum and vacuum advice doesn’t help worth a damn.
The only thing I really hope to accomplish with this post is this: If you feel terrible, you’re not alone. If you feel like, now that you’ve got your itty bitty business off the ground, you’re furious with yourself for not skipping with glee every moment, it’s not just you.
If you feel like nobody on the damn planet understands what you’re going through, at least I do. If you feel like, now that you’re at home full time, you should provide your children with home-cooked meals and wash the sheets every other day and only show quality, commercial-free programming on your television and have sex with your husband six nights a week and have a floor that’s more carpet than ground-up-Cheerio, you’re not the only one.