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Self-Care = Selfishness?

I’ve long known the importance of having good self-care. Granted, it’s not always something that I’m the best at, like many people. It seems like there is this little voice in the back of my brain that keeps trying to convince me that good self-care is “selfish”.

When I think about it, it’s not just my own inner voice that tells me this. It seems to be a widely-held belief in our society that self-care is just plain selfish. Or only for those people with “too much time on their hands”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the receiving end of passive-aggressive comments from people about my running, for example. So many people seem to have the attitude that giving and giving and giving to the point of mental, emotional, and spiritual depletion is an admirable quality.

Well, I’m calling bullshit on that. Big time.

This is life. There’s no award for “Most Burnt Out”. When I’m a little old lady I’m pretty sure I’m not going to wish that I’d pushed myself harder, that I’d stressed myself out more, that I took less time to enjoy life. It’s ridiculous.

As I’ve mentioned recently, I have a few things going on right now. Firstly, I have anemia. I battle with low iron from time to time and I know that this is something I need to take better care of, but don’t. Also, I have been dealing with what can only be described as a crushing amount of stress right now. I know, I know…that sounds a little dramatic, doesn’t it? But honestly, with everything that’s happening, ‘crushing’ is really the only way to describe it. But as I wrote about yesterday, I am doing my best to remain tough and battle through it.

Last night I paid a visit to my naturopath. I haven’t seen her in a while, but she has been extremely helpful to me in dealing with health issues in the past. In fact, she has been able to help me when my regular medical doctor couldn’t. I respect how naturopaths look at the entire picture and take all factors into consideration when determining how best to treat someone. We talked about my symptoms. We chatted about my diet, sleeping patterns and lifestyle habits. We talked for a long time about the amount of stress I’m currently dealing with. We looked at my blood work results together. She was very thorough.

The verdict? Basically, I’m a mess. lol Her primary concerns at the moment are dealing with my low iron, and managing the effects of all the stress I’m under. I have supplements to take, dietary recommendations to follow, and even some suggestions for a certain tea to start drinking. Basically, what it all boils down to is that I need to do a better job at this whole self-care thing. Sure, those daily runs are great for me mentally and physically, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. A puzzle that actually has many, many pieces.

So for the next while, this will be my focus. For the time being there are a lot of things out of my control — like the sources of stress in my life. As I work to improve the causes, the next best thing I can do is manage the effects of this stress. Those things are in my control.

And you know what else? I’m going to have zero guilt for taking good care of myself. Because it’s not selfish, no matter what that stupid inner martyr or people around me have to say about it.

self care

On Being “Tough”

I kind of pride myself on the fact that I’m a pretty tough broad most of the time. I have dealt with a lot of really tough things over the course of my life. I say this as a statement of fact, not in a “poor me” kind of way. Some people get handed more difficulties in life than others. And me? Well, seems like I managed to somehow get a little more than my fair share.

It is what it is.

With a few exceptions, I’d like to think that I’ve dealt with life’s challenges relatively well. For me, falling apart just isn’t an option that I allow for myself. I make the choice to stay strong not just for myself, but for CBG, and especially for my girls. Because there was a time in my life when I wasn’t all that tough at all and guess what? I don’t really like that person.

Lately, however, I have to admit, my toughness is being challenged. Big time.

I am doing my very best to dig deep and find that inner strength, that toughness that I’ve had to rely on plenty of times in the past. I won’t lie — it’s been difficult tapping into that.

Logically I know that there is no shame in admitting weakness, particularly when life’s circumstances are weighing particularly heavily. Logically. My ‘tough inner bitch’, however, is telling me to “suck it up” and push through it. So there’s a bit of an inner battle going on there.

I guess the good news about having this tough inner bitch inside me is that I know that even if I do fall apart, just a little bit, that I have the ability to pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep moving forward. She is too tough, too strong, too stubborn to let life get me down for too long. This I know for certain.

And maybe…just maybe there is strength in allowing some weakness, for just a little while.

Worry not, kids. Though things are at a low point now, bouncing back is inevitable. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just have to make it through until I’ve gathered up the strength to do it.

fall-down-seven-times

Of Course Marriage is Work

I’ve seen some posts online lately about people talking about whether or not marriage should or shouldn’t be “work”. What I’ve realized is that your opinion on this subject really boils down to how you choose to define the word “work”, and what emotion you attach to the word.

I believe that we all can acknowledge that being married requires certain things. Showing compassion. Being considerate. Sharing. Occasionally putting the other person first. Picking the damn pop can up that your husband has left sitting on the living room floor for the entire week.**

Y’know…stuff like that.

Some of us call that work. Call me a selfish jerk, but I honestly don’t always feel like being compassionate and understanding toward my husband. Some days I don’t really want to share or be generous in any way. Like that last scoop of ice cream in the freezer? Hells no, of course I don’t want to share that when I’m PMS-ing hardcore and need a chocolate fix. Doing these things – some days – (hell, who am I kidding – some weeks) requires a little bit more effort than usual. For me, this is work.

For other people, it still requires effort to do all of these things in a marriage, but for them, “work” = drudgery. Clenched-teeth obligation. But let’s face it – we all do things every day that we don’t necessarily want to, because that’s just what we do. Things like pooper-scooping up after our dogs, washing the dishes after dinner, or wiping our baby’s butt. We don’t necessarily always want to do it, there is effort required in doing it, but you do it — because this is what is required. You can’t very well stop doing the dishes forever because you don’t want to. Well…you can, but eventually the pile of dirty dishes will fall over and crush you. But I digress.

I’m not one of those people who see work as a negative thing. I think that most things in life  require work, whether you call it work or not. Having pets. Owning a home. Having children. Knitting a sweater. Having life goals. All of these things require effort. The effort doesn’t make them any less meaningful or valuable or special — in fact, the effort involved makes them even more wonderful. Many of the most satisfying things in life are things that you’ve worked hard at and achieved.

For me, working on a marriage means striving — together — to make it better. To learn how to be strong when your partner needs to be, and to lean on them when you need the extra support. To face the challenges life throws your way and figure out how to not only conquer them, but how to be better and stronger together because of them. To learn how to be a little bit more compassionate and understanding  even when you really, really don’t want to. Some days the effort is easy. Others…not so much. But it’s what you do because you love your spouse, even if some days you love them just a tiny bit less. Not that I’m saying marriage is like a dirty diaper but guess what? I might not be cleaning up my husband’s literal crap, but some days I’m all over helping to clean up his figurative crap like…well…like stink.

Because in the end…it’s absolutely, 100%, without a question, worth it.

Even if you do have to share the last scoop of ice cream when you really just want the whole thing to yourself.**

 

**May or may not be taken from a true story.

marriage

Unconditional Love

Yesterday ended up being kind of a crap day. Another crap day in a whole string of crap days that have been going on for quite some time now. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just suffice it to say that I’ve been struggling a lot lately. Anxiety. Fear. Stress. Exhaustion. Maybe even depression, I’m not sure at this point. But whatever it is — it sucks. The reasons behind it are many, and most of them are completely out of my control to change, at least in the short term. So add “helpless” to my running list of things I’ve been feeling lately.

Last night I went to bed, alone, my mind racing. So many swirling thoughts and fears. It wasn’t long before the tears started. Tears that I’ve been holding back for weeks now, unable to allow myself to just have a moment of weakness. Unable to acknowledge that there might be a chink in the armour. But last night, they came. The floodgate opened up and allowed all the feelings to just pour out….all the sadness and fear and pent up stress that I’ve been weighed down with lately just came flooding out. A few minutes later, Kiddo crept into the darkened room.

Mommy….are you alright?” Apparently I hadn’t been as quiet as I thought I was.

“I’m okay.”

She came around to my side of the bed and slid beneath the covers, curling her petite frame around me, resting her head on my shoulder.

“What’s wrong?” Not wanting to weigh her down with everything that’s going on, I simply explained that I’ve been feeling really stressed lately and it was all just getting to me.

“It’s okay to cry, you know,” she said gently. “It helps let all those bad feelings out.”

We laid there together for some time, me allowing the tears to flow, her silently stroking my arm, allowing me to let out everything that I’d kept bottled up for so long.

“Cry as much as you need to.” She told me. “You’ve done this same thing for me lots of times.”

I was instantly reminded of all the times I held my crying daughter. How I cradled her body against mine, allowing her to let all of those feelings out for as long as necessary to help her feel better. I thought of kissed boo-boos, broken hearts, nightmares, disappointments. Every tear I ever kissed away. I thought of how much she is like me in so many ways, how she laughs easily, loves hard, and feels heartbreak just a little bit deeper than the average person. Some days it’s like looking at myself, 29 years ago.

Eventually my tears subsided. At this point it was getting late, and I let her know that it was okay for her to go back to her own bed. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Because I can stay if you need me to.”

“It’s okay, sweetie, I’ll be alright. You need to get some sleep.”

“Okay. Well….you need to get some sleep, too, Mommy. Because being tired AND stressed just makes you feel even worse.”

Sage words from my pre-teen. The exact advice I would give out myself, if the situation were reversed.

“Thanks, sweetie.”

Oh….and Mommy? You’re a really great mommy. And I love you…no matter what.”

Unconditional love. Exactly what I haven’t been able to give myself lately.

Thank you, Kiddo. I will always be grateful to be your mom.

TWINS!

Stress

Stress symbol isolated on white background. Feeling of low mood and anxiety icon conceptual design

To say that life’s been a bit stressful lately is kind of an understatement. There is A LOT going on…so much so that it’s difficult to decide where to focus my attention and energy. There’s only so much to go around, after all.

Supporting CBG after his recent diagnosis is a big priority at the moment. It seems like this is taking up a big space in our lives right now. My hope is that, with time, it will be more like one of those things running in the background of life, rather than up front and center pretty much every single day.

Unfortunately there are other matters that are also taking up a big chunk of time and energy as well. To the point where it is making all other aspects of life even more challenging. It’s one of those things that I am currently powerless to control or even change (though I’m working on it!), but it is really hammering at me right now. It’s upsetting that this part is taking away from the “real” parts of life: loving and supporting my husband, and working on our marriage. Because honestly, those are the two most important things right now.

I am still struggling with my energy levels at the moment. I am waiting to see my doctor about my blood work results (unfortunately I have to wait until the 27th, as she’s on vacation next week). I’ve been suspecting that my iron levels are down again, but honestly, I’m pretty sure that all the stress I’m feeling is draining my energy, too. Which is creating a bad cycle, since running helps the stress but then the stress is making me exhausted so I can’t run as much as I want/need to. I’m really hoping that I can break out of this cycle soon.

In the meantime, I’m just doing my best to hang in there.

ADHD and Marriage

So I’ve been doing a lot of reading about ADHD lately, what with CBG’s diagnosis and all.

I’ll admit that I didn’t really know that much about it to begin with, other than what popular culture has taught us. To be honest, I had a pretty unflattering view of the whole thing, as I’m sure a lot of people do. I remember thinking that ADHD was an “excuse” that people used for laziness and bad behavior, particularly those people who didn’t seem “hyperactive”. It was never anything I’d ever really bothered to learn about, since it didn’t have a direct impact on me. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

For years, CBG and I have faced our fair share of issues. Sure, we’re a pretty low-conflict couple for the most part, but particularly in the last three years (since moving in together), I’ve noticed more and more that things had changed between us.

Now I know. They haven’t “changed”, it’s just that since living together, CBG’s ADHD symptoms have become more and more apparent. When we were living three hours apart and not seeing one another on a daily basis, I didn’t get to see all of his quirks and habits and regular ways of doing things.

Since moving into together nearly three years ago, it’s like a curtain has slowly been lifted back. Things at first were chalked up to him being an inattentive, sometimes “lazy” spouse. Of course this caused a great deal of frustration. We argued. We worked things out. He promised to try harder. Later, it seemed like depression was to blame. But then, as he received treatment for his depression, it became apparent that there was much more going on here.

Enter ADHD.

The more reading I do about it, the more I see how much this has been affecting not only his life, but our life together. So many arguments. So many little (and big) resentments. So many incorrect assumptions. So many disappointments. So many broken promises.

Now, to be clear: this doesn’t mean that we haven’t had a wonderful relationship. Anyone who has been reading this blog for any period of time knows how much we love one another and how much we’re committed to making our marriage work. As with most things, things isn’t a black and white issue here; love and resentment can exist within the same marriage.

The good news is that now that we have a diagnosis and are pursuing treatment, I feel that this is only going to lead to good things for us. Of course, this will require time and patience, since we all know that there’s no magic pill that is going to suddenly make life perfect. My hope, though, is that we can work on separating the ADHD from the person, to help me see my husband more clearly. With treatment, hopefully the symptoms will improve so that they’re not actively getting in the way of us continuing to have a happy, loving and fulfilling marriage.

We still have a long road ahead of us, I know. But we have each other, and we have love. I’m confident that we can do this.

So…my husband has ADHD

So for those of you who read CBG’s blog, you’ve likely read about his recent diagnosis. If you haven’t, take a minute to hop on over and take a peak.

For those of you who haven’t read it and really just don’t want to be bothered (hey, we’re busy people, right?), I’ll cut right to the chase. CBG has been diagnosed by his psychologist with ADHD.

I’ve written before about how since last fall he’s really been struggling with depression. Well, as time wore on, the thing that struck me the most was the fact that despite taking medication, and despite making greater attempts at self-care, he just didn’t seem to be getting that better. I guess what really was happening, now that I think about it, was that as the depression filter lifted, it became apparent that many of his issues and struggles were about something other than depression. We just didn’t know what the problem actually was.

I’m not sure what it was that I read, but one day I fell down the internet rabbit hole and I came across an article on ADHD in adults. As I read through the list of symptoms, I could feel my heart starting to pound. It described CBG almost perfectly. I fired the link off to him and waited to hear what he had to say about it. Not long later he responded…in agreement. He made an appointment with a psychologist and off he went.

After taking a number of tests (and even one that *I* had to fill out about him), she sat us both down last week and confirmed what I was already pretty certain of at that point:ADHD (just without the “H” part, which from what I’ve read, is often the case with adults).

The interesting thing is that after doing a lot of reading about ADHD (specifically how it affects adults in relationships), I’ve realized that this explains so much of why CBG and I clash in the ways that we do. Now, to be fair, we are for the most part a pretty low conflict couple. But the times when we do struggle…well…those times can almost all be explained because of ADHD symptoms. So many things are explained. He isn’t ignoring his share of the chores because he’s “lazy” and “inconsiderate”, he just honestly doesn’t notice the basket of laundry sitting right there in the middle of the living room. He doesn’t forget important things because he doesn’t care…he honestly doesn’t remember them. He’s not crummy with money because he’s “selfish” and “immature”…he struggles with impulse control.

It’s weird…so many things make sense now…suddenly…like a light has been shone on the situation.

The good news here is that we’ve got a diagnosis and so we know what we’re dealing with. Also, the more I read about ADHD, the more I learn how to help him, and the less frustrated I feel. There’s also the fact that there’s help out there for this. These are all really good things.

At this point, there’s honestly only one bad side I can see to all of this. I can basically no longer get pissed at him for anything anymore. After all….he has “a condition”. ;-)

Now, I know that life isn’t going to magically get better now that we can put a name to what’s been at play in CBG’s life and in our relationship. But for me, this diagnosis is a positive, because this is something we can not only name, but something we can research and learn about and tame…together.

It’s just another one of those little bumps in the road of life that we all inevitably encounter.

And as I told CBG recently: We’ve got this.

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