Advice | Carolyn Hax: How does an expectant mom control her inner … – The Washington Post

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Adapted from an online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I am so hard on myself. I am like, “I want to achieve all of my goals NOW.” E.g., I got married at 23, have quickly climbed the ladder in a really intense career and bought an apartment at 25. My husband and I are now starting a family, and I am 28. So I am pregnant and emotional on top of the various usual demands of my life right now. It’s a lot.
Husband and I think it would be great to have a house before the baby comes and have started what feels like an all-consuming house search. Of course, the real estate market is off its rocker right now. I realized I am doing the thing I usually do: going into this intense, focused “must get house” mode. BLAH. Where is the fun in that? We can make our apartment work for a while.
I am looking for tips on how to let go, take it easier, have more fun and let this all work itself out instead of becoming the Type A zombie I tend to become. Also, like, what am I so afraid of? Why must it all happen now?
— Type A Zombie
Type A Zombie: Dig into this professionally, please. You don’t enjoy the pressure you put on yourself, you can’t ease it when you want to, you’ve got a child on the way who will be healthier if you learn to let go of some stress. Each alone is reason enough to seek counsel.
That’s a trick comment; just thinking you’d benefit from counseling is reason enough.
Being “so hard on myself” can have deep emotional roots — often some version of a need to perform to feel worthy of love. Plus, the ability to settle ourselves amid intense pressure is one of the most valuable self-protective skills we can develop. Please make that your top priority now.
Learning to open yourself to the joy of randomness, meanwhile, is a long-term project you can start without therapy. Just start looking at situations through multiple lenses, till it becomes a habit. Superficial example: The party plan that goes sideways can turn out to be much more fun.
Also look at your choices not as goals to meet, but as people, purposes, loves. A person cannot be a goal. Each is a fully realized, free-standing emotional entity you’ve welcomed into your life and committed to as is, with all the love and heartbreak and mess that entails.
As for the house: Rushed home purchases invite bigger problems than cramped living conditions do. Plus, newborns need very little equipment at first. Quit the search and immerse yourself in your moment.
Readers’ thoughts:
· I spent my 20s and 30s checking boxes, but I never stopped to ask myself WHY I wanted those things. I am getting divorced because I completely lost myself in trying to find my value in external things and never really considered whether my ex-spouse was the right person or just happened to want the same basic check boxes I did. I wish I had started therapy sooner.
· I was the kid of that parent, and it’s so, so damaging. Without therapy, you’re likely to turn their lives into an endless rat race of empty benchmark achievements and pressure. If you won’t do it for you, do it for your kid.
· Zombie can stop being so hard on herself for her Type A tendencies. If she is unhappy, that’s one thing. But if she’s happier when she’s working toward a goal, then it’s okay to just accept those parts of herself.
From the archive:
He didn’t want kids. We broke up. Now he has kids. What the heck?
Should mom rock the boat about sons-in-law’s behavior at cabin?
How do you keep a friendship when your best friend’s wife is so rude?
Divorced mom worries how others will judge her dating decisions
Your husband won’t be the life of the party, and that’s okay
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Carolyn has a Q&A with readers on Fridays. Read the most recent live chat here. The next chat is Sept. 29 at 12 p.m.
Resources for getting help. Frequently asked questions about the column. Chat glossary


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