The other day, Roch remarked that if I didn’t blog again soon, people would begin to think he was dead. I had to admit, he had a point.
So, what’s been going on?
On a recent visit to my counsellor I told her “I think I’m struggling a bit.” She leaned towards me and said eagerly, “But of course you are struggling. You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t struggling.”
It was as if she had been waiting for me to say it, my grudging acceptance of what I perceive to be failure, admitting that I am not perfect. Only my use of the qualifying words ‘a bit’ seemed puzzling to her. Her tone and the look she cast me, were gently challenging. “A bit?”
But what a relief to hear that it’s ok to struggle. And believe me, I do. Fatigue, migraine after three long days in work (recently, after two lates in a row in work), weekends feeling shattered at home. Constantly feeling stressed, head full of worries - work/home/home/work. Lists, lists and more lists. This is what I bring to her.
“Listen to your body,” she says. “Why are you afraid to listen to your body?”
“If I listen to my body it will tell me to rest,” I reply. “It will tell me to lie down, not to drive it so hard, and I’m afraid that it will tell me to take time off work.”
“What will happen?” She asks me. “What will happen if you stay at home to sleep, to repair yourself? Will they fire you?”
“No, they won’t.” So, I ask myself, what am I afraid of?
“I’ll feel bad because I’ll feel like I’ve let them down and I won’t be living up to my own expectations of myself.”
“If you don’t you will become too ill to work at all, too ill to look after Roch, too ill to be strong for Tom and Kate. So lower your expectations of yourself”
So, here is the wisdom I have come away with. I share it now with you, but will I be able to follow this wise counsel?
Loving kindness - remember? I had almost forgotten.
Learn to create time for yourself by letting things go. Some things can wait. At work, at home. It doesn’t all have to be perfect. It doesn’t all have to be done.
Create a time bank. Steal time spent otherwise on minor, unimportant tasks and take it to yourself. Write. Create. Rest. Be still. In this way, build up your strength in mind and body.
And go to bed early.
I have been feeling low, it’s true. Tired and discouraged, at home and at work. I haven’t been writing, which makes me feel crap. I haven’t been blogging, which makes me feel out of sorts with myself. When I’m low, I sink into myself. As a rule, I avoid contact with the very people who might be able to help - friends text/email/facebook me and I ignore them. I can’t bear anyone to know how bad I’m feeling or have them guess that I might not be bearing up so well. It’s counter-productive, I know - you might say that there’s an element of self flagellation there - a feeling that I don’t deserve their support, not worthy of their regard.
However, I am dragging myself out of the slump and I have taken steps. I have gone back to Pilates, I have seen a physio about back pain, I have been back to the doctor about the migraines (I am now on a preventive dose of amitryptiline 10mg at night - I’ll let you know how it works.
Now I need to see if I can train myself to let things go, listen to my body, lower my expectations of myself.
It doesn’t all have to be perfect. (I still want it to be, I just have to accept that it won’t always be).
I am emerging from my cocoon and beginning to renew contact with friends - and I have many, many dear friends.
It’s going to be difficult, but you know what? I’ll have to follow the wise counsel, because when you come down to it, it’s about survival. It’s that simple.