Its been a very hard year. Not 2018, but the year (& a month) since Easter 2017 when a succession of bad things happened to my little family. Our gorgeous daughter developed C Diff (clostridium difficile) which is a vile infection in the bowel. She was hospitalised three times with it and it really set her back a lot. That’s on top of her severe disabilities. Just a couple of weeks after she began to pick up, my husband got bitten by something and got cellulitis in his leg which, apart from needing hospitalisation and lots of antibiotics, meant he was off work for a few months as his job is very physical. That took us from April to September, by which time he was improving. He finally got the all clear to return to work on October 2. On October 7 he was in collision with a car while cycling and received serious injuries. I can’t say more about that here as there is a court case pending.
Five weeks after his accident (he was home by that stage but needed a lot of care), I received a phone call on a Saturday night from a hospital in England (I live in Ireland), telling me that my mother was critically ill and I should get there asap. With the help of two amazing women I am lucky to call friends and with the support of family and neighbours I managed to get there on the Sunday morning and was able to be with her until she died on the Monday, less than 48 hours after I got the initial phone call. I haven’t even begun to process all of that yet.
The next month was taken up with organising her funeral, packing up her home and trying – increasingly desperately – to keep on top of things at home. We somehow managed to make it to 2018 and all I could think was that things had to get better. Don’t panic, nothing else really bad happened. We continued to muddle on through, our daughter’s epilepsy deteriorated and she had lots of tests done in February and we are working with her neurology team looking at the various options. That is all stressful but by this stage I felt I had come through so much relatively unscathed that I’d be ok. My husband has continued to improve and our daughter’s seizures are manageable at present. Over the last couple of months I have felt increasingly in need of some time alone. I’m the kind of person who needs a certain amount of solitude. I love being with my family and people generally but I need alone time too and that had been in very short supply since April last year.
Now it is May, and my husband returned to work this week, albeit on light duties. Our daughter is able to go to school each day and I have had a few hours each day that are just mine. Great, I thought, I can catch up on various things that need to be done, and carry on with an exercise program (I started the C25K 3 weeks ago), take some time for hobbies and things that make me feel good. I am fond of lists – shopping lists, lists of recipes I want to try, lists of books I want to read, and the damn TO-DO list. Today is Thursday and each day this week I’ve made myself a little to-do list of things I need or want to get done that day. At 47 you’d think I’d have twigged by now that this probably wasn’t a very good idea. I haven’t crossed everything off the list any day this week so far. That results in me carrying items forward on to the next day’s list and subconsciously (until this morning) carrying forward a niggling feeling of failure.
This morning after my husband and daughter had left for work and school, I was getting ready to go for the next day of the C25K program (hoping that the lower back pain I have had since getting up would ease off and that my knee wouldn’t be sore afterwards), and writing my to-do list while pondering why I have been so bloody exhausted all week. (I know, I know, I can never switch my head off)
WALLOP. Its all starting to hit me now. Now that things have calmed down and are getting back to normality, the stress and strain of this last year is hitting me. And there was me thinking I’d escaped it. Now that might not sound terribly profound but it was (apologies for the cliche) a Eureka moment for me. I’m not Superwoman (she doesn’t exist). I have been through an awful year and my mind and body are now saying to me “STOP. Listen to us, its ok to rest, its ok to not have a to-do list every day. Its ok to not keep pushing yourself so hard.”
All I have to do now is actually listen to that message and act on it. There are times when I wonder how I’ve kept going the last few months. I’m running on empty and I need to allow myself to rest and heal. I’m parking the C25K for now and I’m going to try not to write a to-do list every day. That’s enough for now.