How did this happen? How have I allowed the business of life, the weight of extreme stress and sometimes overwhelming responsibility to take over my life?
Like many parents / caregivers, I have unwittingly let myself become the least important person in my life. Not just the least important person in the house but even the dishes, the laundry, the pets, all of the daily tasks of living, the business of life – have come before me and my own needs.
It hasn’t happened overnight. Little by little, dish by dish, diaper by diaper, crisis after crisis – I surrendered.
Over the past year I had really began to feel the emotional and physical side effects of my choices. My appetite was pretty much non-existent (Fun fact: this made me gain weight). My insomnia was at its worst and I greatly reduced the time I spent with friends or doing the things that I enjoyed.
When I did have free time, I was so tired that all I wanted to do was sleep or zone out on the TV. Most would label this as depression but I didn’t feel depressed and my therapist agreed that it wasn’t. It’s called situational anxiety – I went into survival mode, stripped away everything but the most necessary of tasks to just make it through another day.
After 10 months of therapy I have come to many realizations. One of the most important is that I can either choose to let mostly uncontrollable external forces destroy me or I can choose to take my life back. To someone on the outside this may seem like an obvious and easy decision. Trust me when I tell you that it is not. Not at all.
I am, at heart, a caregiver – even with people who rarely give back or take advantage of me (although I do have a helluva temper when someone hurts me).
As long as I can remember, I have taken on responsibilities that weren’t mine to take on. I have always been a protector, even for people who probably didn’t really need my protection. I am sensitive and often take on other people’s emotions.
Changing behaviors that are deeply ingrained will be a challenge but it’s a challenge that I am trying to taking on with a smile on my face and in my heart.
I have always been and will always be, a fighter. It’s time to put up my dukes and make some major moves.
Therapy is teaching me so much about myself, my past (and how those two things are majorly connected), about human nature in general, embracing change, and healthy ways to deal with it all.
I am learning to appreciate the small moments in life a lot more, to embrace the finite qualities of this life, and most importantly, that I have to take care of myself so that I can continue to care for my family.
Surely this story is striking a nerve for some of you now – you who give and give until they are left feeling empty and depleted. You, who like me, has let the business of life make you forget to stop and breathe, to dream, to plan, and to really and truly take care of yourself – You are why I am sharing this extremely personal side of my life.
I will be writing more about the journey of bringing myself back to health. Hopefully my experiences can help those of you who are facing things that can sometimes seem impossible to overcome.
Onward and upward, friends.