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The Pain Point: Between Too Much and Not Enough

By Darlene Cunningham on January 14, 2024

Diagnosed with ADHD as a child in a critical era, “rational dreamer" Darlene sought validation for her struggles, realizing the issue lay with a world she seeks to shape. Darlene, a gifted woman who despises the label, likens herself to a mix of Skittles and M&M's—risky, rewarding, and self-amusing.

The Pain Point: Between Too Much and Not Enough

I'm at that age where you risk injury just by sleeping or breathing or moving. Somehow in late 2017, I injured my lower my waaaaay lower back; my lower upper butt region if you will. As a result of this injury, when I go from sitting to standing, I have to stop halfway (picture the stereotypical old lady with a walker because...accurate,) pause, and then straighten into a standing position.

I am fine sitting, I am fine standing, but that halfway point causes pain sharp enough to stop my body, often against my will. It's the pain point. It's the point where I have to stop and make a conscious choice to sit my ass back down or force my body to

finish standing. Leave it to me to use my spine as a life metaphor...

I have never been someone who does something by half measures. I am always over the top, 100% invested or 100% not invested; too loud, too much, too often, too intense, too many presents, too much singing, too many colors, too too too...and it has

always either served me or served me up.

The funny thing is, that I always feel like I am not enough or the things I do or give are not enough. So I do more, give more, try to be more, begging the cool girls to like me, over-planning events/holidays, calling/emailing/texting too often, and frequently

driving everyone batty.  

I mean how can we possibly decorate holiday sugar cookies if we don't have icing in EVERY shade of visible light, and are six dozen cookies enough or is this too many? (Who are we kidding? There is no amount of cookies that is too much; I should go buy more ingredients.)

There have been times when I was so much, while believing I am not enough, that I've ruined the fun of things. Decorating the Christmas tree and yelling at the kids or going behind them and changing things up because the ornaments weren't “where they

belonged"; being upset that a kid cried off their Halloween face paint after I took too long trying to make it perfect for them (or for me -?-).  

I just wanted it to be perfect; I wanted them to have the perfect costumes and the perfect makeup and and and- they cried. They already thought they had perfect costumes, but I couldn't see it. I could only see this fucked up vision of the future where they would look back on it and only see that I didn't get their faces painted right.  

To some degree, I know that this is also just a parenting thing. We worry. This is not that. I always feel like I am not enough. This actually has nothing to do with the kids or parenting and has everything to do with me. I don't know how to make the decision to sit my ass back down-- to let myself be enough right where I am with only 8 colors of icing for two dozen Pillsbury cookies and with a kid in her homemade werewolf costume whose tail looks rather like that of a kangaroo...

Our bodies have pain receptors to warn us that something isn't right. The transition from sitting to standing has a pause in the middle to allow me to prepare for the pain or to alter the way I move so as to not cause it. From that point on, I choose to feel it or avoid it or stay in it (which when doing dishes or many things that require leaning over something, leaves us no choice but to stay in it.)

I know that many people who love me will say that I am just enough, perfect as I am, and if someone thinks I am too much then they just aren't my people. My response is, “I 100% agree, but what about when I am too much for myself?"

As a note, I've done my own extensive longitudinal research about the comorbidity of having ADHD and being told you are too much. My findings from these studies show conclusively that the two are 100% correlational; occurring in nearly 150% of cases. 

(Oh hush, I never said I was a mathematician! or a researcher...) 

The topic I am discussing is not this. It's more internal.

Remember when I said that this has both served me and served me up? Over-delivering on a work commitment can be good for me; being a quilter and getting those points to line up perfectly.... damn that's sexy. Constantly begging for the cool

girls to like me to the point of changing my handwriting, the way I move my hair with my hands, giving my belongings away because they wanted them, chipping away at all the things that make me me because then they might like me...

There are takers and they will keep making you feel like you aren't enough so that you never stop giving/doing/hoping. I could constantly be pushing past that pain point without the pause and just worsening the damage until one day, I might not be able to

straighten up. 

Who I am will never be too much and never was; I am just the right amount of much. I am learning that maybe the pause isn't the breath before the pain, so much as the vista I've climbed the mountain for; stopping to actually see all that I have done and

realizing that I can sit my ass back down, because I don't need to push any further; I've done enough and now it's time to enjoy it. 

In art circles, there's a saying “Done is better than perfect." In quilting it means that I can keep fussing over tiny details working and unworking a seam but never finishing because it's not good enough for me; or I can finish the quilt and give it to the person I

made it for who doesn't see flaws, but only sees love and perfection.

I actually think maybe the saying in these instances should be “Done is perfect." Two dozen cookies and eight colors of icing; a kanga-werewolf-aroo costume, smudged face paint; a Christmas tree with all of the ornaments in one spot, and you know the

one common denominator when the kids talk about it? It was perfect. It was enough. I was enough. 


I'm learning that halfway can be the whole journey and still be a perfect journey.

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Someone made a comment yesterday in relation to this post that was amazingly insightful and spoke to the value of holding space with our children and OURSELVES as we work through the *too much and not enough*. It was about the beauty of perspective and patience... and I loved it!

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