Continued from... It might be hard to see, however change is a decision!
Let me tell you how I learned my lesson…
I had two small children and a husband, 2 dogs, 2 cats and other various pets at various times, a rabbit, several fish and a guinea pig.
I had a house and garden, and no help in the form of a cleaner or otherwise, as is more common nowadays. No siblings or parents that helped out or took the kids for an hour.
I ran a dog boarding kennel; all be it a small one.
I job-shared night duty as a nurse. I divide my shifts up in such a way that I worked one night at a time – so maybe a Monday night, then a Friday, then a Sunday… Now for any of you doing night duty, you’ll know that this is very difficult as your body clock gets incredibly messed up. However, I did it this way, as I wasn’t able to sleep enough during the day, due to my responsibilities, to be fit to go to work the next night.
I may or may not have gone to bed for four hours in the morning after dropping the kids to school, that’s all I allowed myself as the dogs needed looking after, however some days I didn’t go at all, for whatever reason.
I would get nauseous around 3 or 4 o’ clock and count the last few hours until my husband came home from work. I frequently fell asleep at the dinner table.
My inability to acknowledge what I needed, meant I stayed up until 9 or 10pm finishing off stuff I thought was so important that it had to be done – some of that was the thought of having to face it tomorrow.
The trick I quickly learned was not to sit down. Keep going at whatever work needed doing.
Let me say at this point that my husband was and is great. He supported me anywhere he could, 100%. Most of this was my doing.
I knew I had to change however, I was so exhausted that I could see no way out and was blind to any opportunity. I was on pure survival mode.
At one point in my life, I was so low and could see no way out, that I started fantasising about having a car accident, so I could sleep…
In the meantime, my body was getting sick. Long story short, at one point I went to my GP and was wrote off sick for two months – a bit extreme I thought for what I had, but overwhelm came to a head and I burst into tears.
Finally someone said stop!
The guilt when I rang my boss. The shame at being off sick for so long. Not me, this isn’t me!!
But don’t feel sorry for me!
This was my lesson, all my choices and decisions, that led to this day. I chose to learn the hard way!
I had ignore my wellbeing, my mental and physical health to the point of becoming sick. And I knew it.
Were there signs along the way beforehand, of course there were! But I ignored them with a load of wonderful excuses like how much work I had to do, and the kids needed this and that… it basically went down to one simple thing; I didn’t feel worthy enough to put me first. I was seeking approval by being overly efficient, working hard, having the house spotless, organised, etc, etc
However, this doesn’t work. Instead of receiving the approval which I sought, I gained the role of being strong, organised, the one who had Santa sorted, the one who didn’t need help, and didn’t get it either.
With one weird thing after another, my surgery was moved, even moved hospitals, and eventually I was only able to return to work several months later…
This however gave me the opportunity to see clearly.
I had returned to a normal pattern of living. Being able to go to bed every single night felt so amazing, I gave gratitude every time getting into bed.
I honestly cannot put into words how hard the place was where I had come from, and I knew I couldn’t go back. I actually feared where it would lead.
We made the decision for me to resign and I never fully returned, a little bit during covid, but not much.
So with a scary new norm, I set about my new life, and I have never looked back.
Now don’t be under any illusions, my life is far from perfect. I have my bad days like anyone else, however I have the self-care tools to help get me back on track. I now have the clarity of knowing what I need to do, to regulate myself, whether it’s mediation, gratitude journaling, a positive podcast, grounding work, etc.
So when I say it is a decision to look after yourself, as my story hopefully shows, if you don’t, the universe will make sure that eventually you will have to listen.
I really hope that my story inspires even one person to make positive choice earlier in their journey than maybe they were going to.
These choices do not have to be big. It starts with small things. Look at your life and carve out time for you. It is there. It’s under all the muddle of school lunches, ironing, GAA, zoom calls, shopping for parents, social media, Netflix and a whole pile of other stuff.