Too Strong for Too Long

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I recently read an article by Mettie Ivie Harrison about "being too strong for too long," and it struck such resonance in me I had to share it here in hopes that it strikes you as much as it did me (and thanks to Mettie for letting me share excerpts).

In the article, Mettie talks about the moment when she realized she couldn't keep her momentum going anymore. "Every minute of every day had to have a purpose. Most of them had to have two purposes. And I was ruthless when I reviewed my attempts."

Sing it to me sister.

I'm a driven person. I have goals and I work hard toward them. Sometimes to the point
where I push myself into emotional exhaustion. Classic overachiever with a long list of accomplishments (I won't bore you with the details). Any failure by myself was treated with self loathing and disappointment.

Pushing myself hard got results, at least results as far as achievements go.

But there was a price for being so unforgiving a taskmaster.

That price didn't come due until college. Trying to balance my new marriage while keeping my GPA up and living on next to nothing completely overwhelmed me and I started having daily anxiety attacks. My life ground to a halt and I couldn't understand what was wrong with me. 

It took a lot of hard work to relearn how to relax. How to love myself. Forgive myself for my shortcomings and failures. I learned that a happy person is a balanced person. A person who nurtures their spiritual and emotional self--not just their physical and academic self. That relaxing wasn't an epic waste of time but time to recharge.

It was a hard lesson to learn, but I learned it well.

I still catch myself pushing too hard (I have three young kids, my husband is gone a lot with work, I exercise an hour 3 times a week, volunteer at my kids' school, write and market for my book, try to do my hair and makeup, housework, and church responsibilities (I teach Sunday School--what were they thinking???) but I've learned to back off before I fall apart.

I could sense myself getting overwhelmed for a couple months around Witch Song's release. Instead of pushing myself to schedule more signings etc, I took a step back. Now my goal is to do one signing/school visit a month. Not a lot, but I enjoy one activity a month. More than that stresses me out and I miss my kidlets too much. Maybe I can do more when they are older.

To read Mettie's article, go here:

What aspect do you struggle more with: Spiritual, physical, emotional, social, or something else entirely?

Also, it's looking like January's event will be a signing in SLC at Sam Weller's. More to come.


  1. It sounds like a good article. I too struggle with balancing it all, and I too feel like I fall short, all the time. But you've done an excellent job managing your life. :)

    And if you need anything, just let me know! Seriously. I live close by.

  1. Mettie is awesome. In fact, I think she was the first author I ever got an autographed book from.

    I know I push myself to the breaking point almost every day. So much to get done and so much more to do. My problem is regulating myself and keeping a good balance ... I just thought of my New Years resolution. Awesome! :)

  1. I'm with ya, sister. I backed off my driven-ness when I realized the people I love were sick of my goals. Today I try to set realistic goals and stick to them--but I also strive for the flexibility to give my attention to those unplanned, important moments that can destroy my road map. I don't always hit the right balance, but I think about it all the time. I hope that means I'm hitting it more often.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    Very timely...I was just talking to a friend about how impossible it feels to get everything done that I put on myself. It's still something I struggle with-the need for absolute perfection in all things and trying to be the superwoman that I think everyone thinks I should be. The trick is finding the balance and realizing that I put way more on myself than anyone else ever would.

    Thanks for sharing!

  1. Melanie: Thanks. Somedays I keep it together better than others.

    David: Don't push yourself so hard that you burn out. It's not worth trying to pick up the pieces and put a life back together afterward.

    JoLynne: You know I love you to death, right?

    Ems: The fire that burns the brightest also burns out the fastest. Pace yourself. You have your whole life to accomplish your goals.

  1. I think all of your signings are wonderful. :) And what a wonderful post, thank you! You already know how overwhelmed I get. Ack. I've been trying to cut back, but it seems like it's not working very well lately. I will definitely keep trying.

  1. Wow, this has been a hot topic among my support group this month, too. (Support group for moms who have a child with cancer.)

    I was a classic overachiever, too. Pushed myself hard at work, writing, home, church... I was determined to MAKE it all fit. When my son got diagnosed this summer, it quickly allowed me to see the things that I would let go of. In a minute, I had decided. Funny how crises can do that to people. Slowly, I've picked up one piece at a time, but only the most important ones.

    One positive side to all this is that it truly allowed me to prioritize, and learn to be flexible with my goals so that I can put my family first.

  1. Oh, thank you for this. I went through this a few months ago. I've finally figured out to balance a little more between writing, my church calling, my hubby and and kids and helping critique books and stuff. Sometimes I can't do it all. Probably cause I'm human? :)

  1. Wendy: I had no idea. I'm so sorry. Is he better now?

    Chantele: It seems like every once in a while our lives become so cluttered we have to role up our sleeves and get rid of some junk that's weighing us down.

  1. new folower gfc follow back please
    I would love to read your book.

  1. Amber: He is on the road to being better, but it's a long road. It's a whole change in our lifestyle. But he'll get there. He has a great prognosis, which I'm thankful for every day.

    As for everything else (work, callings, writing, etc...) it falls into place when it fits, and when it doesn't, we just let it roll off our backs. We have the rest of our lives to accomplish our goals. It doesn't all have to be right this instant. I think in today's society - especially among women - we put way too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, and to do it the same way our perfect neighbors or friends or family members do, but the truth is, we need to let go of some of it and figure out what our own good enough is, and then build from there.

    Anyway, sorry - I don't want to rant. I just barely saw your response to my comment tonight, and thought I better reply.

    PS, your blog is SUPER cute! =)

  1. Wendy: You poor thing. I'm so sorry your little one has to go through this.

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