“I had this sort of uncanny ability to make myself as small as possible, like I was a supporting character in my own life,” said singer/actress Mandy Moore about her six-year marriage to Ryan Adams. She says it happened because she lost herself in her troubled relationship and began to doubt her path.
Moore isn’t the first woman to experience that feeling. Unfortunately, it is far too common.
I don’t know if it’s because most women put their whole hearts and souls into the relationship. They tend to be self-sacrificing and overly willing to go the extra mile to please their spouse and, later, please their children.
I honestly don’t think that alone is a problem. We love helping our loved ones. It makes us feel good, right?
Caring becomes a problem when it’s a one-way street. That is, you are showing your love by helping everyone else but they aren’t returning the love when you need them. Then you stop doing things that will need them…maybe because you don’t want to be reminded that your relationship is a one-way street.
You give up your dreams and stop setting personal goals. You give up your “me time” in favor of “us” and “them” time. Maybe you stop getting together with girlfriends or give up your alone time or spiritual practice. You stop doing all the things that made you feel like yourself.
In addition, you ignore it when your feelings get hurt. You make excuses for your spouse and kids. Then, to stop the hurt, you throw yourself into the tub of ice cream or that bottle of wine. They help you forget that you aren’t getting the happy ending marriage promised.
I call it overcare.
Overcare is what happens when you lose the balance between caring for yourself and caring for others...in favor of caring for others. Overcare is when you put everyone else first and do whatever you can to make their lives shine. Bujt no one is helping you to shine.
There is only one way for overcare to go and that’s to burnout. Burnout becomes “I don’t care.” Which is the place Mandy Moore must have gotten to before she divorced Adams.
One of the best things about the Five-Year Marriage is that you and your partner both set goals for yourselves AND you make agreements for how to help each other reach those goals. If life starts to look uneven for one of you, you can use the Family Meetings to get back on track.
How do YOU get your SELF back?