So this legacy of unpasteurized stress is my cross to bear. But I have had advantages and resources to call upon that Mom and Granny did not have. For one, I knew this years ago and started to do something about it. Actually, many things about it. Some major and some minor things. I know that I have reduced my stress level by leaps and bounds, but every once in a while...
As most of you know it has been a painful period of time for me regards my parents and their ever-changing condition. I get upset and feel pushed and pulled, confused and challenged, but I always come home and chill with some wine and some husband and some good food and movies. I am very good at knowing when I have hit bottom. But lately, although I have been carving out some time for me, I have still found myself facing some odd and very new symptoms. Then I realized that it is not just about taking the time out of a busy and stressful day, it is about channeling the sadness and pain that my parents situation brings, and that is not as easy. I realize now that the sadness I feel has latched onto my heart and my psyche and it is silently doing its damage. And that doesn’t go away just with a nap or a quiet glass of wine on the deck. So here is what I decided to do these last few weeks.
I have given myself permission to just do nothing. And by nothing I don’t mean stare in a catatonic state out the window. But to really just hang out. Life of course goes on so in the day there are a few calls that I must make and a few errands that must be done but other than that, I am sitting and reading and playing with the pups. I am enjoying the garden and floating in the pool. I know this might sound like no big deal to some of you, but for the likes of me to do nothing is like nothing I have ever done before. Not in my home. Not unless I am a guest at a cottage or that type of thing. And even then.
I implemented a new scheme in my life. I get up, make breakfast, sit outside, and read my book. First. I have NEVER done this before. I will read my book and then if I have time I will get to the newspaper, and maybe if I have some more time I will “visit” Facebook. But I really wanted to read my books. And my feeling was, if the day gets away from me, then at least I am comforted to know that I have read for an hour in the morning. A dear friend said to me when I told her of my plan, “Be careful you don’t become obsessed with this plan, forcing yourself no matter what comes to read and then be disappointed if you don’t. You know how we are!” I assured her that so far that was not happening, but I knew what she meant. The not doing is not in her nature and it is not in mine. So I thought, “Wow, am I forcing myself to relax?” In my panic to become stress-free, am I panicking? In the midst of panicky panic and counter panic and non-panic tactics, how does one tell?
So I just really took a dramatic step back from the every day of it, the do of it, the on top of it. And I fell into the do-nothing and when I landed, I did not struggle and scrape to get up. I laid back literally and figuratively and gave myself this gift. Gave it with love, and then, rather than open this gift, I just stared at it, all wrapped up knowing that I already knew what was inside and didn’t even have to open it. As a result, this de-stressing has become a lovely lovely habit that I am not ready to quit.
I am normally the woman who cannot read a magazine in the middle of the day lest I feel guilty. But no more. Hart made a comment in a blog last week about North American society and the fact that we cannot just give ourselves a break. We cannot just let go and take holidays and time off in the middle of a stressful day without being wracked with guilt. Hart was right and I am a very bad offender. The guilt stacks up in my body so high that I sometimes feel I am choking on it. Nobody is doing this to me. I am doing this to myself. And it must stop. And I am working on it. Or rather I am anti-working on it. At the risk of sounding like a drama queen, my life may one day depend upon it.
Barbara: You are so not a drama queen, Deb. So very far from it, in fact, that I am beyond relieved to hear that you have found a concerted and gentle plan to de-stress and cope with what is, for all intents and purposes, one of life’s seriously difficult life-challenges. Thanks so much for your honesty through this—and by that I mean, for the honesty with yourself that then coalesces into honesty with us. Because we all go through these times, we just don’t always recognize the absolute need for our own concerted coping strategies. We really do have to step back from the muck from time to time, guilt-free and bravely, if we’re ever going to survive the serious and heavy-duty business of emotional muck-racking. All our lives depend upon it!