This is when I know it’s an addiction—when I haven’t read a bedtime story to my girls in a week, when a friend leaves a voice mail after an email after a text message and then waylays my husband to make sure I’m okay, when I start thinking up next week’s grocery list on a Monday and run instead of walk to find a pen. My drug is accomplishment. It always has been, from the impossible checklists of my childhood to the precarious tower of college jobs, and like any chemical-inflamed dependence, it hollows out my living appetite.

Some wild-eyed part of my brain insists that when I can no longer find a single loose end to wrap up, not a single other must or should, my craving for accomplishment will finally be satisfied. However, I’ve watched through the keyhole as my own mind invents responsibilities, and I know the truth—that I crave the hunger more than I crave its end.

It’s a sobering realization that I can’t just… stop. Not without some iron-clad justification—six hours until sunrise, a waiting room lull—and even then, I only grant a temporary concession. I wake up in the morning pre-tired. I have woken up nearly every morning of my life this way.

No need to tell me that the valuable moments of life are the slow-cooked ones, the savoring of time with loved ones, the meditation melting on my tongue. I have known transcendence, but never in the scurry. It’s only when I’m still that the important unblurs. This blog owes its existence to my need for reflection and refocus, but sometimes, weeks like the last one take over and I lose sight of soul-care in my scramble to do more, always more, just one thing more and maybe it will finally feel like enough. I medicate the endless gnawing with my dust cloth.

Right now, sitting here honestly with you brings on the shaking effort of withdrawal. I can see every spill on the kitchen floor, every unfiled paper on my desk, and every shaded block on the calendar all at once, and they wage a trembling tug-of-war against gravity. My coffee is just strong enough to keep me in my seat as I fight myself on two opposing fronts. It’s every kind of unsettling.

But oh, I can feel it’s good. Deliberately refusing my compulsion to hurry and accomplish, choosing instead to stop and write and reorient, pushing back my panic at the ticking of the clock, ducking outside for a tryst with the cherry blossoms… this is my rehabilitation. It’s not easy, but it’s good, and I’m powering through the withdrawal this morning because being here does what grasping for accomplishment never can: It fills.

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  1. I really do appreciate that you wrote this. I can see so much of my mom in this. She absolutely does the same thing. Sending you much love and hope for more stillness and sweet bedtime moments.

  2. This is one of the most powerful blog posts I have ever read! How do you know what is in my soul? Thank you for putting words to something of which I am unable to vocalize.

  3. Preaching to the choir, sister: AMEN! MAN, are you in my head today!

  4. oh, that i could not relate. i was fervently driven *not* to be like my parents … then i married a man who believed nothing short of ‘godly,’ submissive, obedient, prudent, perfection was acceptable – but i learned that no matter how much i did, it was never, ever, ever enough. then i was thrown into being a single mom with two little girls and the three of us getting sick, a lot, and i was shot over that mountain that everyone claims called, “if it doesn’t break you, it makes you stronger.” well, that mountain is a lie … after unending persistance, ‘it’ does break you and weaken you. now i am broken, and i simply survive most days. a whole house clean at one time? it doesn’t exist anymore, nor does the strength or drive to get it there. (having a special needs child doesn’t help the mix 🙂

    oh, to find the balance. the pendulum was so strung up on one side that when it fell, it swished too far to the other. now i’m trying to find balance, and balance seems more elusive than taking a trip to mars 🙂

  5. I am so glad you came here. I love reading your words. I am happy that you know what fills you up!

    I can ignore a lot, so if you ever come to my house (maybe with Liz?), maybe you two can just clean and organize my life. Go wild! I could sip my Dr. Pepper, and watch. Maybe I could learn something!

  6. i want to tryst with the cherry blossoms. i, too, am fervently learning the “be” word . . . there is a song i’ve been soaking in these days and it says this: “be is the beginning of be-ginning, be is the beginning of be-lieving, be is the beginning of be-longing, be is the beginning of be-having, be is the beginning of be-coming, be is the beginning of be-loved . . . ” all these things we aim for in life seem to be catalyzed by our simple “be”-ing. eh?

    Love You,

  7. Sam – I tend to see it as a mom thing too, which makes it all the more unsettling to find myself caught up in the need for busyness. I mean, I don’t count as a mom… right? Oh lordy. Thank you so much for your sweet thoughts.

    Kelly – Thank you, thank you oh so much.

    Liz – It’s lovely to be here. 🙂

    Ame – Goodness, I’m with you there in thinking that space travel would be easier than attaining balance. Good to know we’re not alone in it though, eh?

    Megsie – Haha! Nice try, but if there’s Dr. Pepper and friendship in the vicinity, I’m going to be sitting back right along with you. 🙂

    Erika – I love those lyrics; they’re words my soul needs to hear over and over and infinitely over again. “Be”-ing is so right but so hard. Thanks for being here yourself!

  8. Amen, girl. I only just realized this morning that I seem to be raising a Martha-like boy (G) and a Mary-like boy (R). G is always doing and doing and doing and worried about what will happen next, while Rhys is literally content to sit at my feet or in my lap and just be near me. It’s kind of overwhelming too, to see myself reflected in G’s personality, especially when I know what God wants is for me to learn to rest in Him.


  9. you’re so darn honest and poetic.
    my goodness.
    also, i love how you put that: the addiction of accomplishment…oy.

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