Photo by Calle Macarone on Unsplash
Whenever I become healthy after a period of illness I am tempted to forget I was ever sick in the first place (I also convince myself that I will never be sick again). Now that I have regained some energy I find myself wanting to utilize every precious unit of it. After spending much of the past 9 months in bed, I am chomping at the bit to make up for lost time. I want each day to be filled with engaging activities and useful projects. When I feel like I’m not being productive enough, the Pandora’s Box opens again: questioning my purpose and what I’m doing with my life. I begin to feel like it’s not OK to simply take some time to enjoy being healthy. I become antsy and anxious.
Recently I had a talk with Harlan about this. Although I am doing much better overall I have become fatigued again, and a lab test revealed that the Mono (Epstein-Barr virus) isn’t completely gone. I just started another homeopathic protocol to see if I can kick it to the curb for good. Though this is frustrating, I remind myself that I’m running a marathon, not a sprint. I have come such a long way, and a few steps back really isn’t so bad. During our talk Harlan helpfully cautioned me not to overdo it lest I end up right back where I started. No one wants that. Least of all me. So we decided, for now, that I will focus my energies on taking care of myself and our family. I will shop for groceries, cook real meals, keep our house organized, exercise Riley, pay bills, continue to write (and expand to topics beyond my health), shuttle our kids to their various activities, and most importantly, be available when they need to talk. Ava and Ellie are preteens and Wyatt is a teenager. This feels like a particularly vital time for us to be as present as possible. They will need even more support than usual while navigating adolescence. There were months upon months, over the last four years, when I was too sick to give them the attention they deserved. Now that I am well enough, I am determined to be there for them for all of their ups and downs. Of course, I also recognize how fortunate I am to have the luxury of being accessible to our kids since Harlan does the heavy lifting for us financially.
However, no matter how much time and attention I give to my family I have to put my oxygen mask on first. If I don’t take care of myself I will be of no use to anyone else. To that end, I now make my own breakfast before I offer any food to the kids. I spend as much time outside as possible. I get in bed when I’m tired instead of waiting for my children to turn out their lights. I still nap if I need to. I try not to overdo it so that I have a bit of energy left at the end of each day.
I am mostly comfortable with our current arrangement. But I will not be satisfied with focusing on family life indefinitely. I know that there is much more for me to contribute in this lifetime. So I am keeping a list of things that are important to me; things I can embrace once I feel ready to fully engage with life again. Things like earning money, serving others, and having additional creative outlets. I will get there. Eventually.
4 thoughts on “Oxygen Mask”
Yes, baby. Yes!!!!!!!!
Alexandra Elite-Marcandonatou, LCSW http://www.alexandraelitelcsw.com
You have so much to contribute. The possibilities are endless.
But take your time. And take care of yourself. A wise friend told me this just yesterday 😜
Omg!!! I can relate to this so much! It is our T3 nature to want to push forward; yet, chronic illness forces us to manage our energy in a way most “healthy” people will never understand. Our lives will not resemble theirs. Our journeys will not resemble theirs. Only we can determine our capabilities at any given moment. My heart is with you!!
Thank you so much Toni! Very well said :). XO