Sorry it’s been so long since my first post. I have been trying my best to commit to myself, and that takes a lot more work than I realized! I wanted to talk today about making yourself a priority, and setting boundaries. This is top of mind for me due to some recent circumstances that happened to one of my coworkers. She has been dating a wonderful man for the past year or so, you can tell that they are truly meant to be together – he is sweet and kind and thoughtful, everything you would want a partner to be. Then he began to have severe hip pain and ended up having surgery, a surgery that resulted in a very long, very painful recovery. (A recovery that didn’t really seem to be happening). This was hard enough for my coworker – she met her boyfriend on their tennis team and they were a very athletic unstoppable duo, she was devastated that something this debilitating could happen to him, especially so young. After getting pushed around a bit by doctors, they finally got answers to the recurring pain – cancer – stage 4 cancer. I watched her go through the steps I went through – denial, frustration, anger – a fierce desire to protect her man. They are now at MD Anderson and he is getting the help he needs to start fighting this fight – and she has been there every single day – for every test, for every hard conversation. I am in awe of her strength and the power of her love – she is incredible person.
However, I also fear or her. I know what those early times are like, and I know, being a strong caring female, your instinct is to take over, to want to make everything as easy as possible. Your life becomes wrapped up in the saga of the other person and their medical journey. And what happens? Classically, you forget who you were on your own and what you are capable of, apart from the illness. I know this sounds so clique – I remember being an absolute snob before my hubby got sick – I was like how can women let themselves go? How do those moms not brush their hair and put on makeup? And then – one day – when I was at my very bottom – I realized that I was fried – I hadn’t showered in a week, hadn’t cleaned my house – I WAS that woman. And I am not saying that’s not ok – it is OK – taking on that much is more than any one person can handle. But it’s funny, how two years later, I am still discovering how far I have to go with detangling myself from what hubby and I’s lives had become. Now I am not saying don’t take care of him or be involved. But there is a freedom that comes from focusing on yourself again, which will then allow you to think about how your relationship has changed, and what you need from it now.
Let me explain – For the past 5 weeks – my hubby had to go out of the state for a pharmacy rotation. I was not looking forward to it. How could he leave me? And for 5 weeks? And with two wild puppies? Not going to lie – that was some tough stuff. Taking care of two puppies, that have the energy of two very rambunctious 2 year olds is draining, and a LOT of work. (Shout out to moms, I am getting a little glimpse of parenthood, and I salute you!) Over the days I was sad, I was lonely. But slowly, something started to happen. I got into a routine with the pups, I decided it was finally time to fix my slowly degrading diet and took on a whole new approach to food, I started working out! And something started to blossom out of that time – happiness. And calm. It was pretty tiring to walk the pups every evening – but as I walked them in the sunset, I felt like I had gotten back a little bit of who I was before I got married. Before I was married, I lived in a big city and the only thing I had to worry about was myself. I went to work, enjoyed my little one bedroom apartment, and chilled at the pool. It was glorious. I didn’t realize how much I had missed that. Being able to go out to the pool when I wanted, being able to just relax at the end of the day with no other responsibilities. That being said, I am glad I got married. I love my hubby and my fur babies – but man, I didn’t realize how much I had taken on, and after he got sick, how much I let go. I had let go of giving myself permission to have fun – to go out with friends, or go to the pool after work, to go to the gym. I let it go because in the back of my head has always been, “But what if he needs me? But I need to do the dishes and the budget.” But that time alone gave me a little blinding light – I still deserve those things – I just stopped asking for them, making them a priority. My therapist said that even after she had two kids, it was understood by her husband that between 5 and 6, that she went for a run. That was her non-negotiable her time, to decompress and appreciate life.
Now I know you can’t push back on everything – marriage, or a serious committed relationship, are give and take, are compromise. However, look back and remember what made you happy. What made you smile. Take small steps to bring those things back into your life. If your happier, your partner will be too. I’m not saying it’s easy, and your partner may even rebel at first. The caregiver in me wants to scream every time I leave the house to do something for myself. But I need to learn to say no, no to myself. No I don’t need to there every second of every day. No, I’m not ok not having date night. No, I’m not ok not working out on a semi-daily basis. (Or whatever is important to you). For me, right now, it’s my diet and working out. I am literally taking it one day at a time. But there is a fire inside of me – a tiny one but it’s burning. 🙂
-Little Miss Pharmacy