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As a teenager, I remember reading one of my mother’s books called Joanna’s Husband and David’s Wife, written by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey.
It was many, many years ago, and although I can’t remember the whole plot, I do remember a part where Joanna’s husband finds and reads her journal.
In it, he found an excerpt stating she never believed David could love her as much as she needed him to, and no matter how hard he tried, it would never be enough.
The reason I bring this to your attention is that neediness, that desperate yearning for love, and overwhelming feelings of insecurity are my biggest telltale signs that I am on the brink of emotional burnout.
When I have burned my candle at both ends, overextended myself, worked additional hours, tried to get the house in order after a long day, and ready to collapse, I am at my neediest, and as much as my husband loves me, I transform into a Joanna.
Until recently, overextending myself and poor energy management have been my lifelong modes of operation.
I have always presented a version of myself to the world that I have it all together and can accomplish whatever I set my mind to, no matter how taxing or demanding. I maintain my outward positivity, which is so completely exhausting that when I walk in the door, after a long day, I feel like my legs are those of a marionette, and I’ve no control over the strings being manipulated by the puppeteer.
The heart inside my chest yearns for love, just like Pinnochio’s heart yearned to become that of a real-life little boy.
The irony of becoming this version of myself when I am encircling full emotional burnout is that I have an amazing husband.
When I tell you that after 21 years of marriage, he still comes up behind me and hugs me. He still calls me beautiful and sends me text messages every morning saying he loves me and wishes me a good day—I am not lying.
I am a fortunate woman, and I love him dearly.
However, when someone such as myself suffers emotional burnout, the traumatic scars from my childhood are quickly revealed, and the unwarranted dialogue in my mind reminding me that no one could love me in that manner because I am not worthy echoes loudly as it bounces off the confining walls of my skull.
When I free-fall into the arena of emotional burnout, it is a daunting task to ground myself again. Not only that, but I am also feeling insecure; I am my own worst critic for behaving in such a ridiculous and needy manner.
For me, emotional burnout, neediness, insecurity, and ultimately, personal condemnation encompassed a vicious cycle I had been trapped in my entire life.
That was until about eight weeks ago when I began to change for the better via the help of a spiritual healer, mentor, and feminine empowerment life coach.
She pushed me to learn how to avoid overextending myself and how to manage my energy by preserving it instead of giving it away to everyone and everything. She made me see that my energy was valuable and should not be squandered.
I started to establish boundaries at home and at work.
I also started to take time for myself to recharge. I began to do things that fed my soul, like writing, yoga, and meditation, and they filled my heart with love—love of myself.
One of the most important steps I took, though, was that I began to really speak to God and prayed for his light and love to fill me up. I begged him to help me to heal and give me the strength to speak my own truth.
Slowly, I began to unveil the true me to the world, without shame and fear.
Rather than exhausting myself pretending, hiding, and fearing judgment, I embraced the true me, the one my husband has always loved with such ferociousness.
I stopped questioning why and finally accepted that he saw the amazing in me long before I could.
I wish Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey had written a sequel, one in which Joanna finds a spiritual healer and discovers her true amazingness and power, but unfortunately, she didn’t.
But who knows, maybe, perhaps, someday I will.