I am low on laundry detergent right now.
That’s it–that’s the punchline.
But really it’s a metaphor for how the past couple of days, I’ve been low on energy.
Tired. Emotional. Overwhelmed. Overthinking. Anxious.
Things that are never a good combination.
Things that make being low on laundry detergent seem like a dramatic flare to Act 5 of one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Things that make me grieve the stupidity of going to the store just two days ago and not picking up another carton. Things that make me too lazy to run out for 30 minutes after work or on my day off to pick up a new one.
You know, because I’m low on laundry detergent.
And my willingness has been washed too many times in the high tide of the washing machine, stained with my own expectations.
This shirt isn’t white enough.
So I wash it again.
My work performance isn’t good enough.
So I do it again.
I do it again and again and again and again
until I just stop.
The washer stops spinning, every ounce of water drained.
My mind stops spinning, every ounce of vibrancy in my eyes drained.
And I’m left soaked in inadequacies and insecurities, wondering if I’m good enough and if I’ll ever be good enough. If I do enough, say enough, give enough, am enough.
And usually I would just rinse and repeat until it becomes routine, but now I’m just plain out of detergent.
So I stop. A white shirt whose stains are removed thanks to the power of Oxiclean but who still feels the phantom splashes and spills of her insecurities and overthinking. I’m clean–oxymoronically.
I’m clean enough to receive high compliments from higher-ups . . . so why do I feel like the good they see is still not good enough?
“You’re working hard, and we’re glad you’re here,” they say. But I can work harder.
“Show them how awesome you are,” a good friend says. But I make mistakes, and my perfectionistic ways cringe over the stains made throughout the day, both literal and metaphorical.
I’m not perfect, I realize that. And I’m my worst critic. And I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t give myself enough grace.
I think that the shirt better be white. But everything shows up on white . . . especially my bleeding heart on days when I can’t mask my emotions and the turmoil going on in my mind.
On days when I can’t hide the thunderous beating of the inner drum of the washing machine as its hurricane force takes me for a ride.
Deeper into my mind, into the cyclone that swirls around one word:
Are. You. Good. Enough.
To mostly everyone who knows me, the answer will probably be yes.
But on most days,
if you asked me,
the answer would be
Because I am out of detergent,
and my white shirt isn’t clean.