My absence from here began as a result of the chaos that hits during the holidays. Between the kids wrapping up school, holiday parties, song festivals, demanding social schedules to ensure that every last friend is seen before break begins, the pressure to get the house decorated (times two in my case, as we had my house AND Shawn’s,) the endless search for just the “right” gifts to then be wrapped all pretty and nice, office parties, New Year’s hangovers and what ever other SHIT I forgot, life just gets away from me.
Every year I swear, NOT THIS YEAR! I am going to SIMPLIFY and release myself from at least SOME of the self induced stress I bring on in an attempt to create a wonderful, warm and fuzzy holiday for all those in my circle (the kids, my family, friends, Shawn, even Spanky!) And I KNOW; I have learned, that it doesn’t have to be perfect. That I CAN let some things go. Maybe the pies at Thanksgiving are store bought this year, or I don’t host the 20 plus people turkey dinner that I have done in the past, but doing fewer things doesn’t mean that anyone will think any less of me. When I don’t get around to buying the fresh wreath for the house to ensure that we have that “oh so wonderful” pine scent permeating every last corner of the house, it is NOT going to be the end of the world.
I KNOW this and I REMIND myself, over and over again. But here is the thing…I desperately try to not be the one that IS judging. Because that is what it comes down to. Too many years of doing things, and saying things, and being someone, because I think it is what OTHER people want me to do or be. That is one of the positive things that I HAVE gotten from this “fantastical” disease; it has allowed me to release myself from the external expectations and begin to find myself again, and be true to MY wants, needs and feelings. That is not to say that I won’t continue to care for and do things for others. There is not a chance in hell of that happening, because that is simply part of who I am. BUT, I am working hard to make sure that I don’t do things for others at the expense of ME and MY wants, feelings and needs.
THAT concept, THAT idea, has been a life-changer for me. One can look at my life and see the obvious, what is on the outside; the divorce, living in a house a fraction of the size of before, working full-time, a boyfriend. But what you don’t see, is what is inside, or rather, what is missing. What I have shed. Because of the incessant drive to please others, and many situations where that was just not possible, I was consumed with stress. Grinding your teeth, shoulders aching type of stress. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was there. ALWAYS! I would be lying to say it is gone, but there has been an incredible reduction. I can give a simple example, that may sound silly or lacking relevance, but it paints a picture of living with the stress I put upon myself. In the past, if I was running late to pick the kids up from school, let’s say I had been at the hospital to get steroids and although I had allowed 30 minutes to get to the school, I hit traffic. I would be a mess! Literally, completely and totally stressed out. Constantly looking at the clock, over and over and over again, hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly, my knuckles were white and my hands ached. My shoulders and jaw would be so tense, they would begin to throb. As I said, a mess. BUT…here is the thing. I was NEVER actually LATE. I ALWAYS made it, maybe just in the nick of time, but I made it. And yet, that scenario is what I put myself through EVERY single time something like that happened. Even though the circumstances were out of my control (it’s not as if I could nod my head and make all the cars just disappear into thin air…”poof”) I could not release myself from the stress of the moment. The reality is that there were so many options that I could have entertained. SO many friends that could have simply grabbed my kids and taken then home for a snack until I could get there, people in the front office of school that know me (probably too well) who would have been more than happy to find the kids and have them wait in the office, for the extra 10 minutes, while I made my way through the traffic.
I couldn’t let go of the stress. Now that I realize the value of NOT STRESSING and I see how much my life has changed for the positive (NO cane for 3 and a half years!) – I look at a situation like that, and try to figure out what it was all about. WHY I did that to myself. I KNOW that I never ever want to let my kids down, to have them feel as if I am not there for them (both literally and figuratively) BUT given the friends that I talked about, and all the people at the school that know and love my kids, if I had simply called, and someone had explained and then waited with them, they would have understood. They would not have had a problem with it.
SO where did my “problem” stem from? It comes down to concern about what other people would think!!!! That SUCKS and is STUPID! NO ONE should live their life for anyone BUT themselves. You can be a kind, caring and generous person, and you can help others and do things for others and sympathize and empathize….BUT not at the expense of yourself. Because YOU come first and you need to respect and love yourself. It’s something that I tell my children all the time, and yet, unfortunately, action speak louder than words, and my actions were NOT supporting my words.
This post has taken a new direction, as this is not what I intended to write. I started out thinking I would give my polite apologies and excuses, and then move on to more relevant topics such as my MS and Tecfidera, but I guess I had some pent up shit to spew (but at least this was cleaner that the last post I wrote about spewing shit, huh?:) So here is where I took a turn… Yes, my absence BEGAN with the craziness of the holidays, and YES, even though I have let go of many of the crazy ass traditions that would cause me to stay up way too late, way too many nights trying to do it all, the holidays ended….a LONG time ago. And yet I have been silent. The reason for that is not that I didn’t have things to say, or write, but for some god forsaken reason, I became AFRAID of writing on here, of expressing things. As the days, and then the weeks…and then the months went by, it’s not like I didn’t THINK about the blog and writing, because I did. Each and every day. AND as time went on, it became THAT THING that was causing stress in my life again. It is what I would think about as I lay in bed at night, desperately trying to shut off my mind and drift off to sleep. It was many times the first thing I would think of when waking up and to be honest, I even found myself a few times, gripping the stupid steering wheel, while grinding my teeth, as I drove to pick up the kids, or go into the office; thinking I HAVE TO WRITE A BLOG POST…I am letting people down.
Then I began to notice something. EVEN though I wasn’t writing a damn thing, and the blog sat lonely and dormant, people were STILL visiting, and reading, and apparently LIKING, because every single day, I would have emails, TELLING me that people were reading and liking and then signing up to follow. That number kept growing, and the more it grew, the more I stressed. First because I felt I SHOULD write; that “everyone”(all the people that took the time to find my blog and read it and then clicked to follow it) were expecting me to write, and then it developed into a feeling of I HAVE to write, that I am letting people down, and that they will be disappointed in me.
Some how or another, what had started out as just a personal thing (well as “personal” as the world wide web can be) began to get away from me. Instead of writing a blog post because I wanted to, it quickly became “I have to write a blog post, because…” and I could fill that in with a plethora of things; people following me are expecting me too, I might have a story that can help someone and so I need to share it right now, those that are following me will be disappointed that I haven’t continued to share my stories, people will lose interest or the best (and worst) those that knew me, and didn’t think I could do this, are feeling vindicated, that I am proving that I can’t.
All of those things are the “external” pressures that I used to allow into my life to cause stress and anxiety. What the past two months has allowed me, is a chance to grow just a bit more, and see that although I would like to say and believe that I am immune to it, I’m not, nor do I think that I ever will be, completely. It’s ironic that I have no problem writing about my issues with peeing in public, or sharing intimate details about MS and my sex life, and yet I sit here and say that I stress about what other people think about me. FINALLY, tonight, I am posting…it’s NOT what I set out to write, it’s certainly not perfect, and I’m not sure I am particularly please with it, BUT I need to get over this DAMN hump and get on with it, to STOP worrying about all of you out there, and remember that I need to think about me, and what I want and need. And what I really want, is to write….so I guess I’ll sum this all up with