Receiving Rest

It’s hard sometimes to admit that I’ve reached the end of my physical strength. 

I’m much more adept at finding the edges of my emotional limits.  I’m even half-way good at understanding that my brain just isn’t what it used to be.

But giving up on getting up?  That feels like defeat to me.

But it’s not.

I am a fragile human being and just like all human beings have limits.  My body can only take so much.  If I push too far past the boundary of exhaustion it will take more than rest to bring it back to working order.

tired

So today, after six weeks of stress, mental strain and travel, I’m resting.

Not just sitting down for a few minutes between chores but curling up with a book and glass of tea and not moving all day.

rest renew and reconnect

At least that’s my plan.

We’ll see how it goes.

I really need to rest.

I hope I can.

we all need a break ordained sabbath

Stressed: Why Doesn’t My Head Just Explode?

No days are easy when you are this side of child loss.

There is the constant burden of sorrow and pain bearing down on my heart and mind 24/7.  Then there are the little (and not so little!) everyday bumps along the road of life.

But sometimes it’s not a bump, but a mountain that looms large.  Or it may be a sinkhole that opens up and swallows days and weeks before you even realize how much time has passed since you last drew a calm breath.

These past weeks have been like that.

From the night my mother was lifeflighted to the hospital until today, we spent a week and a half in hospital plus these past few days at home trying to get her stable, better and transitioned to a new regimen that will hopefully keep her reasonably well.

While every medical professional gave great care, the majority of responsibility is falling on my dad and myself.  And it’s a huge adjustment for everyone.  No more in and out to the field on the tractor.  No more quick trips into town-at 2 litres of oxygen per hour it will take one portable tank just for the round trip.

Doctor appointments need to be carefully scheduled and routed to minimize time away from home where there is an unlimited supply of oxygen.

I am learning that elder care is a huge challenge-one I thought I knew (in principle, though not by experience).

I was dreadfully wrong.

Just like child loss, until a single call or event takes your world from “I’m in control” to “I have lost all control”, it’s impossible to understand.

There is so much to keep track of, to manage, to watch for, and to do that I honestly feel like my head is about to pop off.

Add random phone calls, doctor appointments, home health visits and (oh yes!) Hurricane Irma-well, you get the picture.

So here’s to all my fellow sandwich generation peers.

And here’s a special shout-out to the ones whose broken hearts already limp along because they are missing a child they love and are now caring for ailing parents as well.

May we all reach out to the only One Who can strengthen us for this journey.

May we speak courage to one another.  

May we extend grace to ourselves because no matter how hard we try to pretend otherwise, we are human.

shame for being human

 

 

Time (and Life!) Marches On

I’ve probaby heard the question a half-dozen times in the past three weeks as doctors or nurses were checking my mom’s mental function during her hospital stay:  What year is it?

And every single time-even though I know full well that it is 2017-the answer makes me suck in my breath.  Because, really, how has the world kept turning since Dominic left us?

How, how, how can it be nearly three and a half years since I talked to him, hugged him, heard his voice?

But it is.  

And the further we get from that point in time when the world as I knew it came crashing down, the harder it is for people around me to remember that I continue to carry this load.

I’ve gotten stronger.  I’ve developed ways to work around the grief most days and in most situations.

Still, I find daily tasks more challenging than before.  Sadness sneaks up on me and tears leak from my eyes.  Anxiety stalks my heart and sometimes catches it.

I get tired-so, so tired-because there is just no reserve.

I wish I could press the “pause” button and give myself a little break.

But time (and life!) marches on.  

 

Closed For Repairs

Oh how I wish I could hang a sign for just a single day, “Closed for Repairs”!

I keep thinking that tomorrow or next week will be the little bit of respite I need to catch my breath and to do a few things I really must do for my own mental wellness.

But life has conspired to make that impossible.  

So here I am, hanging on by a thread again.  

Just barely managing to get by.  

Just barely managing to not scream in the middle of the grocery store when I can’t lift the case of Powerade bottles into the cart.  Just barely able to contain my panic when I reach for my checkbook and can’t find it in the bottom of my purse.  Just barely able to keep from crying when the bag rips putting it into the truck.

If the people around me knew how close I am to falling apart or breaking down, they would run away in fear of what might happen if I blow.  

Yes, it’s been three years.

But Dominic walked with me on this earth for nearly 24 years. Three years isn’t long enough to adjust to his absence.

I need a day off.

Or a week.  

Or a year.  

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional Bankruptcy: I Can’t Spend the Same Energy Twice

I wasn’t born with an “I don’t give a hoot” gene.

When I commit to a person, a project or a problem, I’m all in-no holding back.

That’s why this side of Dominic’s leaving I’ve been very cautious about making commitments. But in the past year I’ve begun branching out and joining in again.

In many ways it has been a positive experience.

In other ways, not so much.

Last evening was one of those times.

Some critical tasks are undone for a large project where deadlines are fast approaching. They are not my assigned tasks although I could perform them if I had the time and/or energy.

But I just don’t have either one.

So there is friction and panic and rush in the group that didn’t need to be there.  I won’t withdraw-I’m committed to fulfill my responsibilities but now I am burdened with all this negative emotional energy.

It followed me home and try as I might I was unable to regather my peace of mind.

I had spent all the emotional reserve I had for yesterday on keeping my responses controlled and relatively kind when people were trying to foist extra responsibilities on me as we walked out the door.

By the time I went to bed I was emotionally bankrupt.

The little bit of extra I depend on each night to keep my mind and heart focused on positive things as I drift off to sleep was spent.

I had nothing left.

I got to the edge of sleep over and over and the thought, “Dominic is dead.” flashed like lightning through my mind.  The thought brought horrible feelings with it.  I couldn’t escape no matter how hard I tried.

Eventually, exhausted, I fell asleep.  It was an awful sleep.  I woke up many times to the same thought all night long.  I will suffer for it today-sluggish and unable to concentrate.

THIS is why I can’t afford to get involved like I used to before Dominic ran ahead to heaven-not because I don’t care or I don’t want to-but because I CAN’T.

I cannot spend the same emotional energy twice.

I’ve only got so much to give.

daring to set boundaries brene brown

 

 

Worn

I used to think the expression, “the straw that broke the camel’s back” was an exaggeration meant to paint a comical picture of someone who didn’t have sense enough to remove pounds of heavy bricks but buckled under the tiniest extra weight of a single straw.

Now I think it accurately describes those of us with no control over the baggage we have to carry and who find that it really is the small things that force us to the ground.

Just when I’m convinced I have this grief load well-balanced so that the weight, though heavy, is bearable, along comes LIFE and throws the whole rig out of kilter.

Grieving my son means that while I can usually get through the day, I have no extra emotional, psychological, physical or spiritual energy to draw on when things get just a little more challenging:

  • I mean to encourage, but miscommunicate my heart to a friend and hurt her feelings.
  • Family members have needs I can’t meet.
  • People I expected to lend a listening ear spend our time together unloading on me instead.
  • My rheumatoid arthritis flares and moving around just plain hurts.

And I realize that the load I thought I was managing is much too heavy and threatens to crush the wind right out of my lungs.

With my strength gone, the sorrow and the missing and the unanswerable questions dog-pile on my prostrate spirit.

The song “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North describes perfectly how I felt last night:

I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing

I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win…Let me know the struggle ends…That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn.

I want to know a song can rise…From the ashes of a broken life…And all that’s dead inside can be reborn…‘Cause I’m worn…

I know I need
To lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win…Let me know the struggle ends…That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn

I want to know a song can rise…From the ashes of a broken life…And all that’s dead inside can be reborn…Cause I’m worn…

And my prayers are wearing thin, I’m worn even before the day begins.
I’m worn I’ve lost my will to fight, I’m worn so heaven so come and flood my eyes.

Let me see redemption win… Let me know the struggle ends…That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn.

I want to know a song can rise…From the ashes of a broken life…And all that’s dead inside can be reborn…