Dear Vicki: I am writing because I’m currently at a point of overwhelm. For years I had a solid, well paid career in finance, but when it became apparent that I could not juggle work, home, and 5 children (one with complex health needs), I quit work and have been caught in caring ever since. For the past 18 years I have been the one at home who manages everything for the rest of the family. I do think I have a lot of Earth energy, I love my family, yet I feel I have let them down. I do not yet have full time work because I still have an adult son at home who can be demanding of time and attention due to his health issues. I have reached a point of sadness and frustration over this, but when I try to explain my feelings to my husband (who I think is a very Metal personality), he simply has no idea what I’m talking about. He doesn’t understand my sense of guilt over not contributing to the household – he has apparently never felt any guilt in his life – so does not know how to help. I know I can’t change the situation, but do you have any thoughts on how I can change the way I am dealing with it? I would love to find contentment. Signed: A Mom in Crisis
Dear Mom: Bless you for your willingness to be there for your family, especially the one who needs special attention. You probably do have a primary Earth personality; the desire to have a large family usually indicates an Earth personality, as does the fact that you made it a priority to stay home with your family rather than keep your job. However, that you had a career in finance for many years suggests that you probably have a good amount of Metal energy in the mix, too. You are correct that you likely can’t change the basics of your situation, but you can certainly change not only how you are dealing with it, but also how much help you have in dealing with it. There are many ways to do this, but first let’s look at what might be going on for you to create the sadness and frustration.
When Earth people are faced with a crisis at home, they usually do whatever it takes to make sure everyone and everything is managed as well as possible. The fact that you have some Metal energy in your mix will help drive a desire to do things not only the “right” way, but the best way possible. That’s because Metal people not only strive for perfection, they also honor the wisdom of the past, a wisdom that tells them what is “right” and what is “wrong.” This sense of what is right added to your Earth need to raise your children well is probably why you couldn’t manage a large family and a full-time job and do both perfectly. Not surprisingly, your Earth personality’s desire to do the best for your family won out.
It is interesting that, in your current situation of needing to be home for your special needs child, your response is sadness and frustration. Sadness is a Metal personality attribute and frustration is an attribute of the Wood personality. That you are feeling this way suggests that these energies are strong in you right now, which is not particularly good news. In the Five Elements model, both Wood and Metal deplete Earth. Wood relates to Earth on the Controlling Cycle with Wood controlling Earth. Metal relates to Earth on the Nurturing Cycle, but it is Earth that must feed Metal. You have already identified your husband as a Metal personality, so in addition to your own Metal energy, the extra coming from him could well be mean there is too much Metal energy around you and it is draining your Earth.
As far as Wood energy goes, your frustration alone might be enough to “overcontrol” your own Earth. However, you mentioned that the adult child who is home with you can be demanding. That word is often used to describe Wood personalities, so I wonder if the son still at home might be a Wood personality. If so, then the relationship you have with him could be yet another way that your Earth is being depleted. Both of these powerhouse elements draining you have surely left you with less Earth energy than necessary to do all that you need to do during the day. But the good news is that there are ways to address this, and we will go there next.
First, in the midst of being there for everyone in your family, please find time to nourish yourself. Earths are notorious for not taking care of themselves as well as they take care of everyone else. Whatever makes you happy, please find time to fit it into your life multiple times a week. Meeting with friends is usually fun for Earths. And speaking of fun, please have it! Fun and laughter sit in the Fire element, and in the Five Elements model it is Fire that feeds Earth. You need more fun and excitement (Fire) to help increase your depleted Earth.
Second, I encourage you to dialogue with your husband regarding your feelings and need for support. As a very rational Metal person, he probably thought it the most logical thing in the world that you would retire from your job and stay home with the family. In his world, it was the “right” thing to do, therefore, case closed. However, with all that’s going on in your family, you need support, so please have a rational and logical discussion with him and come up with ways he can help you. Metal people are exceedingly kind; I’m sure he will be happy to step up in ways that work for both of you as long as you help him see what those might be.
Third, until these new patterns of doing fun things for yourself and added help from your husband are well entrenched, I encourage you to do what you can to build your own Earth energy back up to a normal level. In this blog we have previously discussed many ways to do this: wear yellow or earth-colored clothes (even undergarments), spend time out in the garden or with animals, surround yourself with flowers (yellow ones, if possible), avoid cool, damp places (which should get easier as the weather warms), wear tigers eye or citrine jewelry so that the stones touch your skin 24/7, wear peppermint essential oil (or diffuse it into your house), drink ginger or lemon balm tea, and generally do whatever it takes to be good to yourself.
Finally, do not allow the Metal part of your own personality to judge yourself poorly because you are not working outside of the home on top of everything else that you are already doing. You do have full time work, it’s just inside the home! I believe that once your Earth energy is built back up, the guilt you are feeling over this will be a thing of the past. But until then, guard against it because guilt will only further deplete Earth. Instead, cultivate acceptance, then move forward and enjoy life. The blessing of peace and contentment is usually found in Earth energy. May it be yours again very soon!