Day 9 – Soft kitty, warm kitty.

I woke up to a quite unusual sound, like a belling call from a stag during rutting season. That couldn’t be it, so I got up to see what lunacy came off in the bathroom. Unfortunately, no stag party (I am easily amused),  it was my love being quite sick. That can only mean one thing. Get the poor thing back into bed, make tea, check for fever, cancel on work and to nurse him to death, or to healthiness, more accurately. Right? RIGHT? That’s what yours truly would have done a year ago. Forget all about my needs, my plans for the day, my own health; basically putting someone else’s needs before mine – even though they did not ask for it. I am not talking about letting the poor thing rot on the sofa, till the suffering becomes too great. I am very caring, let me assure you. Excellent nursing practise was given, no need to file a human rights complaint. I just paused for a minute, after I made tea, got some pretzel sticks, checked for temperature and made sure, he was as comfortable as he could be, regarding the situation. Was it really so easy for me to jump right back into my old patterns? It is a relatively small thing to care and nurse your love for one day, but for me it was a symbol of everything I did and sometimes still do – putting everything and everyone else before myself. At work, I used to take as much responsibility and assignments as I could, when everyone else’s plate was already full. My own plate included, but hey, how can I be regarded as a valuable employee or colleague, if I don’t work my butt off, if I don’t put in as much effort and passion as I can? After work, I went home to take the lead there, too. I was exhausted, but nevertheless, I cleaned, I organised the place, I bought groceries, executed everyday commodities and prepared dinner. Eventually, after dinner, I allowed myself to relax, and that meant going straight to bed. No one demanded of me to take control over everything and manage my life, others lives, work and household. Of course, someone has to do these things, and I am so much more energetic and efficient, no one else can do, what I do, right? I am tremendously valuable. I made myself tremendously valuable to everyone, my family, friends, colleagues. I only felt valuable, if I worked to exhaustion, sometimes, till I heard a ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ – and if that wasn’t the case, I worked harder, longer and busy as a beaver.
Your day is already jam-packed? Of course, I will look after your kids or run some errands for you! Can’t make it to the shops or the post office before they close? Why didn’t you say so earlier, I’d love to do that for you! (No sarcasm, I really loved to do these things – only then I felt loved in return, too). That would have been fine, if not my own day would have been jam-packed already as well. Since years. I never stopped for a second, not realizing how deep my exhaustion went over the years and how automatically I jumped into my pattern of helping, doing things before they even were asked of me, working, cleaning, listening – performing ‘normally’. I never even took my holidays at work – I am way too important and happy to go away!
Those memories came back to me on Day 9. I was determined, to be a good girlfriend, valuable nurse but not to let my love’s sickness interfere what I had planned for the day. He made it relatively easy for me, as he was pretty much passed out the whole day, stayed awake for minutes at tops, just to have a sip of tea, to assure me, that he was alright, needed nothing and was feeling much better already. He made it quite clear to be honest, that he wasn’t a child anymore, was well enough to drink enough fluids and to call or ask for help, if he got worse.
Right, so, there I was. Not really needed. Fighting the impulse to think, I was only a good girlfriend, if I stayed home and forgot about everything else. After I washed the dishes, made the bed – pretty much, did what I could without disturbing my love and what was needed to be done, I was a little restless for a while. What to do, what to do? If you remember, I had made plans, the day before – and that’s what I set out to do. I went to a place, I never go alone. Usually, because I felt like ‘ooooh, but we need to share that experience’, often because I can’t carry all of that junk and always, because I just didn’t go there alone, as the independent being, that I now am. Decisions have to be made together, the tiring journey there, is much more fun together and, after all, it wasn’t just for me, that we had to go there, we needed stuff or inspiration. Are you catching up already? Yes, I am in fact talking about a trip to Ikea. When I got worse and worse, these trips usually were as fun as a ride in hell. Everything about it made me tired, exhausted, cranky, aggressive or desperate. I ended up hating to go there, but, you know, we both back then worked a lot and neither of us had the time or nerve to go alone. Us couples need to stay together, in good times and bad.
I am really relieved, I no longer think that way. I went there, knowing what we needed. Not only was the trip there much shorter and pleasant, than usual, I didn’t feel angry, exhausted or aggressive or overwhelmed for the first time in years. I got my stuff, even walked around and browsed a little and carried everything back home. That part wasn’t so great, as I forgot the real huge bag we have at home and was struggling with carrying 10 kilo on each arm. But I managed. Without desperation, tears or anger. When I arrived home, I was tired, I won’t lie, and I felt pretty much deadly exhausted. But instead of following my usual pattern of nursing, cooking and hovering around like a bumblebee, I sat down, and relaxed, gathering strength again. Honesty, I promised you, though, so, ok, I went grocery shopping that evening and made a meal for myself and my love, but come on, the man was sick! Show some heart, you guys. It could have gone way worse. And he was back on his feet the day after – without my constant nursing. I guess the world does keep on spinning for a day, even without me. Hard to accept, but a good lesson.

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Day 7 – Reunions, ice-cream and family

Yesterday wasn’t a good day, challenge wise. It was a really good day for many other things. There’s a little voice inside me, nagging, that I wasn’t able to provide you all and myself with a worthy challenge for Day 7 – the end of week 1. One quarter, you guys. We are getting somewhere. And although I can’t tell you about a great, soul-searching, fear confronting challenge today, I still very much liked my day yesterday. Let’s say, I celebrated week 1, ok? There was ice-cream.

I am a little shy. I am not warming up easily and talking to strangers or people I hardly know is a big deal for me. Before the breakdown, I met my people regularly, with joy, for hours. I wasn’t afraid of strangers, friends of friends, colleagues at university. Although, that all changed in the past years, I am working my way up to the top again. In all these regards and many more. For someone, who has great friends, that take pride in being my friend, following my journey and helping me through it all with calls, comments and text messages, it may seem odd, but I am not seeing a lot of people these days. Until 2 weeks ago, I only had visited one friend at the countryside, maybe 4 or 5 times. In the course of over 8 months. I kept in touch as well as I could, but picking up the phone, sending a reply or writing an e-mail, was an intractable task. I wanted to, but I didn’t have the strength. I came to the city almost 11 days ago, filled with energy, strength, plans, challenges, tasks. And the joy of what it meant for me to see a few of my best friends. I met the first one on sunday. And even that reunion wasn’t something I made happen. It was a surprising coincidence. Get a grip, you say? You want to see your friends, don’t you? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I want to, I am looking forward to and I can’t wait. What makes it a little hard for me to go through with that plan, is myself. My need to be perfect. My overwhelming tiredness, when presented with a challenge, may it only be to shower, get dressed and meet someone. My own 4 walls, that provide so much security for me. And my inner chicken.

Yesterday, I met 3 people. 3 people! High-five, or rather, high-three! I had an amazing lunch date with an even more amazing friend, that was everything: funny, deep, delicious, joyous, easy-going, relaxing, profound. As if I’d never have left the city for almost 8 months now, we connected, shared, laughed. And I extended the invitation. Booyah! Afterwards, I felt like sitting in the sun for a little while, but when I called my granny to let her know, I was going to arrive a little late, my beloved cousin took over the phone and told me, he was at her place too, skipping a university class, just to meet me. It was meant as a surprise, and boy, was it a good one. He skipped class. For me. Oh boy, OH BOY.  Needless to say, I hurried there as fast as possible. My gran is that sort of gran, that is incredibly intelligent, in top shape and totally in love with me. She also has the tendency, to rant about everything, mostly my family. None of this, yesterday. She couldn’t have presented me with a more valuable gift. We chatted for over 2 hours about history, books, politics (did I mention, she is close to being 90?) and music. Before the burnout, talking to her was frustrating, depressing and extremely exhausting for me. Yesterday I left, light on my feet, a little tired, as it still is fatiguing for me, to concentrate for a longer period and to follow and focus on people and a conversation, but very relieved and thankful for the pleasant surprise. My cousin and I had some super decadent ice-cream afterwards, (because treat yourself, right?) and I shared the blog and a challenge idea, that includes him. The darling sweetheart that he is, he was excited, interested and agreed instantly. Keep your eyes peeled – you’ll soon know why. I feel like this first day of actually taking the plunge and meeting people, took a lot of pressure and unease off of me and that there are and will be many more reunions soon. I took the first step – all following steps now, will be a lot easier. Also, ice-cream, you guys. Treat yourself.