I didn’t post this yesterday because….well, I didn’t care too!
I had a nice, chilled Sunday. Only FM#4 and FM#1 were home, and even though FM#1 was feeling pretty miserable, I made a point of keeping the phone date I had booked in.
I bought myself a takeaway cuppa and sat by the river. It was a beautiful, sunny North Queensland winter’s day, and I chatted to my wonderful soul-sister/lifelong friend for a couple of hours. She’s a fellow people-pleaser/over-carer like me and it was great to bounce some theories, feelings, thoughts, ideas off of her. Some of her non-negotiables and boundaries have been tested recently, and it was interesting to hear how she had addressed those.
Maybe I could do with firmer, tighter boundaries around what I care about. Just because I love someone, it doesn’t mean that I have to care so much that I feel completely responsible for them.
Even my love for my children doesn’t have to mean 100% responsibility. I am not completely responsible for their feelings and emotions, for how they learn or what they learn, for the friendships they make, for the life lessons they learn, for the mistakes they make. They are their own people, and they need the space to discover who they are, what is good for them.
I would do anything for my children – I have sacrificed a tonne for them, and I’ve done it gladly. I’ve played the martyr role well, especially with my eldest daughter, who has special needs. I’ve given so much of myself to my children, because (1) I love them, and (2) I have felt 100% responsible for their happiness.
I have done the same with my husbands. I have given and given and given so much of myself to my marriages because of (1) love and (2) responsibility.
I haven’t had boundaries when it comes to the people I love…. I haven’t said “no, you don’t get anymore of me right now, because I need more of me” or “I need to care for me before I can care for you”, or “you don’t get to just take as much as you want from me.”
I may have always been a bit of an over-carer, and eventually, I got the point of over-caring in a very unhealthy way, and I quite literally made myself sick. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2011, but I think it had been brewing since I lost my mum to leukaemia at the age of 16.
Instead of grieving and being selfish enough to allow myself the time and space to grieve, I gave way too much of myself to others, and kept dipping into a tank that was beyond empty. Eventually, something had to give, and give it did.
I got to the point where I was in so much pain, constantly, and so incredibly fatigued, constantly, that I seriously considered giving my controlling, foul-tempered, ex-husband 100% custody of my two girls, because I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone them.
That was my wake-up moment, my Attitude Change day (read my post about it here) . I took back charge of my own health, for my sake and for my kids.
You’d think I would have learnt by now that I can’t just give and give and give. It’s not mentally or physically possible to care for people so much that I feel 100% responsible for the good and bad things that happen to them.
During the conversation with my beautiful friend, I was suddenly overcome with such exhaustion that I felt it was too much effort to properly fill my lungs. Mentally, physically, I felt spent. I’d hit beyond the red ‘E’ on my energy tank.
How have I let myself get to this point? Shouldn’t I know better by now?
When our conversation finished I saw I had received a message about an hour earlier – FM#1 was feeling worse. Medication had been administered, and the poorly patient was resting. I didn’t feel guilt, or obligated to rush home – pretty much everything I would have done had been done – so I made a stop on the way home to buy some gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free chocolate truffles from Source Bulk Foods. Hmmm….so good!
I didn’t iron, I didn’t clean, I didn’t worry about dinner, I didn’t put away dishes, and I didn’t care that FM#1 had pretty much spent the whole day watching TV. Instead, I spent most of the afternoon lying on my bed eating my ‘pretend’ chocolate, reading my Outlander book and napping.
All in all, it was quite a pleasant, lazy Sunday, and just what I needed. And, what I need more of, what I will give myself more of.
If this is life on the Other Side, I think maybe I could get used to it!