Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Shedding My Martyr's Cloak

For years, I happily shrouded myself behind a cloak of martyrdom. I often felt overwhelmed, alone, and overburdened. But I never asked for help. You see, as a martyr, it was my job to shoulder each and every responsibility on my own. And believe me, I felt sorry for myself on many occasions.

Eric used to call me out on this and say, "stop being a martyr." I just didn't see that though. To me, I was just doing what I was supposed to do. But more often than not, my days would end with nothing much accomplished. I would be frustrated, as would the rest of my family.

I wish I could tell you what it was that made me see the light. I just don't know though. What I do know is that that epiphany has really made a significant difference in my day to day life.

I gave up my martyrdom in favor of productivity and well-being. My perspective shifted slowly until I knew that I'd never need to hide behind that cloak again. There is no greater motivator to get my work done then admitting to myself I can take a break at the end of the day and do whatever I want.

You might think that this would have led to a decrease in getting things done. After all, as a new non-martyr, wouldn't my happiness come first? Absolutely. But what makes me happy is taking care of my husband and children and our home. And there is no greater motivator to get my work done then admitting to myself I can take a break at the end of the day and do whatever I want.

That's the perspective shift I'm talking about. I realized that my job can make me happy. It's not about getting it all done throughout the day, but about getting done whatever truly needs to be done. It's about prioritizing my tasks so that my day runs smoothly. And it's about cutting myself some slack on those days when nothing much gets done. Sometimes, the only thing that truly needs to be done is spending a lazy day having fun with my family.

I am not a martyr. I hope to never feel that way again, or to have Eric tell me to stop being a martyr. Motherhood is not martyrdom! That truth absolutely works for me, and I hope it works for you too!

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Nancy 9:35 AM  

Good for you, for shedding that cloak. I come from depression era parents who still to this day are of the opinion that if you aren't working, you're not doing what you're supposed to do. I however have seen how heavy that burden is to bear and I've decided to not go down that road. I do this -- do my work first and then play. I'm trying to instill this in my girls too. If you've got chores to do, do them first and then you've got permission to do something that you want to do. Balance, right?

JessieLeigh 9:40 AM  

What a wonderful post and such a great reminder. I have been guilty of playing the martyr before and it is so very non-productive. I especially like your point about how relaxing with your family is sometimes the very most important thing to "get done". How true!

Lora 11:27 AM  

Thank you so much for this post!! I so have/do struggle with this at times. I was raised with a fine *martyr* example and I know I tend toward thinking that way. I love what you say about a shift in perspective. Thank you for such practical reminders!

Brittany 11:29 AM  

It's hard to get rid of that. Us moms do a lot and it's so easy to start feeling sorry for yourself. Thanks for sharing

shopannies 11:40 AM  

I had to learn the same reasoning plan because I felt that I had to accept what the Lord has planned and that I can not always be in charge and I felt a release of pressure instantly

Sherry 11:54 AM  

THank you for sharing this today. What an encouraging post! It is easy to be the martyr, and I know I'm guilty of this, too.

Kirby3131 12:05 PM  

Even non-moms can get caught up in the martydom. It was flylady who pointed it out to me many many years ago - and once you see it, it is so much easier to shake off.

Thanks for the reminder!

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Under the Florida Sun 12:38 PM  

What a great post!! I would have never thought to look at it in that light, but you are so right.

We all have probably suffered from some kind of martyr's syndrome sometime in our lives.

Thanks so much for your honesty!!

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