I hated the fact that I was always cleaning. Not only was I angry that I was always cleaning (and never getting anywhere with it) but I was constantly micromanaging my partner to get his help with the tasks I didn’t like doing.
I would say, “Hey, the toilets need to be cleaned” or “Hey, the kitchen floor is super bad” and then he wouldn’t do it within the time frame I wanted it done, so I would end up cleaning it all, while feeling angry that I was the one doing it.
*Side note: I don’t like when anyone tries to determine what I do with my time and energy, so I don’t blame him, and this actually isn’t about him at all. It’s about me, and my patterns, and my responsibility to address them, for myself, and for my children.*
Eventually the anger I felt about cleaning, turned into resentment. Why was I the one always cleaning? Didn’t we all live here? Why is it that he/they can just relax, while I have to clean? When will I get to enjoy that? How can I change this?
I started the process of hiring a house cleaner (more than once) but couldn’t seem to follow through on actually hiring, so I started to examine this dynamic, with even more curiosity.
What was really preventing me from having more ease, more enjoyment, and less on my plate? It was easy for me to say I wanted all those things, but why was it so hard for me to actually let go of the housework?
The strange truth that I discovered: It was much harder for me to let someone else clean the house, than it was for me to actually clean the house.
Because if I wasn’t getting recognition through cleaning, what did that mean for my self-worth and self-image? Who was I, and how could I measure my value? The hard truth was that I was really comfortable in the role of ‘the one who cleans’ because I unconsciously used that role to secure love and recognition for myself.
When I finally hired someone to clean our home on a regular basis, I was forced to explore what might happen if I became a version of myself who didn’t clean, and didn’t suffer for acknowledgement.
The best part about finally letting go, and investing in the support I knew I wanted?
My intimate relationship with my partner improved drastically. Sex is better. Everything is better. Because I no longer need to be seen as someone who ‘does it all’ I’m enjoying life much more. And because I no longer feel overwhelmed by the cleaning, I no longer try to micromanage his time and energy.
Suffering for love (aka martyrdom) was something I witnessed as a child, and it was something I continued to perpetuate, until I decided not to anymore — until I decided that my worth wasn’t tied to the results I produced in the home, but rather to the essence of the woman I am.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a breeze.
The part of me that only felt worthy, if she was producing some kind of result, did not want to let that source of recognition go. And if I’m being honest, that part of me still exists and seeks acknowledgement in other ways.
It took a few visits from the new cleaner for my nervous system to adjust, for me to really relax (instead of fret about while she cleaned), and for me to actually feel worthy and deserving of that kind of support.
Are you actively examining the ways in which you suffer (or over-work) for love, approval, or recognition? Are you aware of the disempowering ways in which you seek acknowledgement from others?
Are you attached to playing a role that you don’t really enjoy, because you think it makes you a more valuable person?
It’s time to stop that, ’cause you’re worthy, without the suffering.
Jillian Anderson is the owner of jillian-anderson.com. She’s a writer and transformational life coach who helps women transform their relationship with money, so they can have more freedom and fulfillment.