|Plate of holiday cookies - J.Stahl|
I have sat in front of this blank screen for two days wondering what to post about. I kid you not, even in my sleep I have thought about blogging.
This week I had the realization that I've lived more time than I can remember as a rather stressed out individual.
I've realized that about half of my parenting life has been in a fight or flight mode, because I never take time out for myself.
I'd lied to myself that mamas don't need time out to think or to rest, or just to get away from everything and piece life back together before having a full mental breakdown. Only worldly secular mamas need to have a nanny / babysitter, or frequent manicures and pedicures, time out to go to the gym... yadda yadda.
I've told myself this is totally normal, this is all ok. That I'm OK. Anyone who says otherwise is just lying or something.
It's funny sometimes the roads G-d will take you on just to have more time with you, and to help you in the midst of a crisis.
I ended up in the end of a long-term health crisis this summer, requiring iron infusions. I have iron deficiency anemia due to my celiac disease.
For those who don't know about this - it's bad, bad news. You basically starve your immune system, thyroid, heart and brain of essential food and life force. You run on empty. You are tired all the time. There's no more strength to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Your mind wanders. It's like having full blown ADD that just won't shut up because you know deep down there are things that must be done, and you begin to obsess about what you will do when you get better or have a burst of energy.. and then you come crashing down when your invisible disease leaves you looking 100%, and you feel more like 10%.
In the middle of all of this, my youngest son was having a major health crisis. We didn't know why he had cyclic vomiting. We ended up going to get help from a pediatric gastrointerologist that is near us. It took us until very recently to find out about his gastric hernia and hole in his stomach. We did allergy and intolerance testing. We did celiac testing (naturally a negative since our house is 100% compliant for my sake. - yes I know, selfish me.), and we got nothing. He's otherwise 100% - basic diagnosis is to keep doing what we were doing and slowly reintroduce dairy. Watch for any cross reactions or "trigger" foods. Investigate a low Histamine diet, get back with the GI and the dietician. Make a plan of action if we think it might help.
Also, my husband has been having a health crisis. Steadily gaining more weight. Gallbladder attacks. Not enough sleep, poor eating habits and some depressive-type episodes.
My eldest in the meantime, was not getting enough attention from me apparently, and was acting out a bit.
Is it any wonder I was stressed out? I kept lying to myself. "All of this is normal", I told myself. "Everyone with two boys this age live through this", "they're just ... spirited.. and it's normal I am so tired." - No. Absolutely not.
I was tiring more and more of pithy, cliché and non-helpful answers that weren't helping me tread water or make it any further ahead in my life. I especially hated the "claim it" kind of faith that was telling me that whatever I claimed in my life is what was making things worse. It wasn't. No one can honestly understand a person who hasn't enough spoons to go around to get things done - let alone feel like they can function, until they have been there too. (The Spoon Theory)
This summer I decided that I had to do something about this stressed out reaction I'm having all the time. The muscle tension, the constant (all day long) tinnitus that gets louder when I think, that is now requiring me to constantly sleep with media just to relax.
In the last three years, I gained weight after having my son. You would think it was because I stayed at home and was sedentary. Other than the bouts I did spend on the couch, in a chair or in bed due to sheer exhaustion - but, I was very active. We live in an upstairs-downstairs apartment that requires frequent trips to the basement that equal 30 steps down and then back up just as many, once or twice a day, more if I do frequent loads of laundry. I was up and down all day long chasing children, redirecting and also cooking meals from scratch. Turns out iron deficiency anemia can do that if your thyroid is being "starved" and your body thinks that you aren't getting enough nutrients. Apparently your body will do one of two things with this disease - one is pack on weight like a bear going into hibernation, and the other is to become like a skeleton. Luck of the draw I guess, I packed on the weight.
Massage therapy helped, but it was looking crazy to go for a referral so much... like I was mooching off the system or something. I had to do something else. But what?
My husband and I joined a gym after coming back from our anniversary trip to the town my dad's ancestors came from. The local gym was to open the first week of September. That was three months away. (This was before we found out all of our son's issues) I felt like I was biting off more than I could chew. But I'd made a one year commitment. I am going to see it through one way or the other.
I drove by every chance I got to watch the progress. I watched news about it... And at last, at the end of September, the delays were over and the gym opened. Joy of Joys! So many options. I could run the treadmill. I could do the ski machines, or maybe join a bicycle course (yeah, right - who am I talking about here? That is not me yet!!) or maybe I could check into Zumba classes, Dance Aerobics, water courses, or... yoga?
I kept thinking about my options at the gym. What was low impact enough that I could do while I was getting weekly IV iron? I had to quit using my swim pass at the local pool because it was making my body go into overdrive or I was getting too wiped out just standing in the water while more than a handful of people were there. So, that counted out the low impact water courses... and going to Zumba and aerobic dance (as I found out after trying a Zumba class. I love it, but I'll have to save it for later.)
I'd been told my entire life (admittedly in very fundy circles) how evil yoga is, it's "eastern mysticism" -- you name it, I heard it. However, I'd been reading up on it, and I researched what would be taught, and I'm secure in my faith and what is going on in the courses I take. There's nothing funky, and so far everything we've done is on exercise level only. The meditation/focus areas of the classes are within parameters that are consistent with a Torah lifestyle. And actually, the more I see, the more certain things I've been learning in the last 12 years are making sense.
I'm relaxing more.
I'm less stressed.
I'm a happier me.
I've lost weight.
I've become more flexible, and I'm not depressed.
I'm not as anxious.
I can shut off my OCD type tendencies and have quit hyper focusing on things I "should" be doing when I know I am not capable.
I'm not panicking as much.
My heart isn't racing like it did frequently due to the stress.
My tinnitus is lessening.
I'm beginning to feel more peace about a lot of my decisions and the place that G-d has put me.
I'm beginning to make friends (outside of my husband's family and social circle) finally after living here for five and a half years.
I'm praying more...
I'm seeing a light at the end of this long tunnel, and it's not the dreaded freight train.
G-d isn't out to get me.
My kids aren't either.
I'm coming to terms with myself, my day, and actually having time to talk to G-d because the whirlwind has stopped for an hour and a half. Things are quiet enough now to hear that still small voice.
I think I've finally come to terms with those horribly spiritually abusive things I have been told about womanhood and putting myself first sometimes.
I'm beginning to be comfortable with the fact G-d made me a woman. I'm getting comfortable in my skin. I'm making peace with things that were not right in the last 20+ years in my life. On top of all of that, the kids and I have been making peace. They and my husband are having more time with him alone, and bedtime has gotten loads easier. They understand I need time out and are happy I'm getting it. They have even positively reinforced my need to go, and helped me get out the door. How's that for a change in our lives? ; )