Self-Care vs. Stress!

Have you ever felt like life just keeps throwing crap at you?  Like you just get back on your feet and things are going good and then bam!   Another curve ball that stops you in your tracks?   Sometimes you see it coming, but other times it is a total surprise.   Have you ever felt like your whole world is falling apart because of circumstances beyond your control?   Like not just one curve ball, but several simultaneously from different sides?

Somedays I just want to scream “why me again?”

– Like when I lost my job and my husband and I decided to end the marriage in the same week.

– Or when my husband went to bed to self-medicate his depression for 6 months, on the same day I started back to work form maternity leave and had 2 young children to take care of –

– Or when I discovered a very dear friend of mine was about to lose his family and his job because of his Cocaine addiction and then learned someone very close to me was his supplier and both needed help immediately.

All of these were very stressful and difficult times in my life that forced me to deal with 2 different crisis simultaneously while trying to maintain and protect my own family and loved ones from further impact.

Well the past week is right up there with those times in my autobiography of life.  I don’t want to get into the details in this post, I want to get to the Feeling Good part.   Focusing more on how I have coped with the stress, then the causes of the stress.   To give you a little perspective, I have had to make some very serious parenting decisions in order to protect and help my teenagers to get through some difficult times that has had a major impact on our lives and at the same time, my father’s health has taken another turn that forced him back in the hospital 3 times this month.   Being the only income and a solo parent, the requirement to work and look after household responsibilities that normally fill my week just piled on top to make the last couple of weeks almost unbearable.   So needless to say, there was an overabundance of emotional worry and physical demands to keep life going.

Thinking back to the events of the past week, I wonder how i am surviving.   And as I started to think about another “Surviving Me” post, I realized that I am doing so much better than surviving, I am actually thriving under the circumstances.   Yes Thriving!   I feel empowered and emotionally strong.  I know there isn’t much I can do, but then when there is something for me to do, I feel confident and ready to do it.   I am completely emotionally involved and have high stakes in the outcome of both situations I am dealing with, but it hasn’t completely derailed me.   It is so hard to explain but I know that I have never felt so strong and empowered in the face of such high levels of emotional stress.   And in that strength, I am far more clear about how I can help and what I can control and/or influence.  As a result I am also more open to receiving help from others.    Seeing this, I feel even more empowered!  It is like a new super-power!

So what has changed for me?  What am I doing differently?   Really only 1 thing is different – I am taking care of myself first!

That’s it!    That is what I never did before – I always put everyone else’s needs ahead of mine and I never really got back to my needs.  And by the time someone reminded me about me, I was too exhausted and it was too late, my health had suffered and my relationships had suffered.  The irony is, that by taking care of myself first, I have far more energy and am feeling better than I have in years despite the stressful circumstances surrounding me and my family right now.

So how did I take care of myself you may ask?   Simple:

Self-care & Supplements!

The number one thing I am doing better is taking care of myself – taking time for me and doing things I enjoy on the hard days.   Like maybe sleeping in a little longer than normal, or reading a book that isn’t based on how I can help others, or meeting friends for a glass of wine s and not talking about the hard stuff.

The supplements for hormone balance and energy has been a real surprise.   I mean I have always supplemented my diet with vitamins and minerals to support a healthy lifestyle but something is different this time.   I started taking a herbal mix for female hormone support about a month ago and a couple of weeks ago I started some homeopathic & B12 drops.   Honestly my mood and energy levels in the face of this life-storm are astounding to me.  And surprisingly my muffin top is vanishing – like WTH?   It’s gotta be the drops cuz it isn’t from exercise or diet!  One more strange thing I have discovered while taking these homeopathic drops – the cravings for comfort food have pretty much disappeared.   It’s like I think about food that would normally bring me comfort and I don’t even want it now… maybe that explains why I feel leaner.

I didn’t intend for this to be a long post, but wanted to share that the little things we do for yourself, are the most important things we can do for our life!

If you would like more information on the supplements or self-care please leave me a comment or send me a message.  I love hearing from each and every one of you and am honored to have you read my blog!

 

Why I Cry Over Spilled Milk!

One of my earliest memories that has stuck with me throughout my life is literally about spilled milk.  Honestly have no idea if this is a real memory or if I dreamt it.   But here is what I remember:

I was sent to the corner store to get a jug of milk.  I don’t recall where we were living but I think it must that been in Toronto because we never had fresh cow’s milk in Newfoundland.  Living on an island has challenges with getting fish milk so the canned, evaporated style or powdered milk was all we had back then.   According to my memory, I wasn’t;t very old but old enough to go to the store by myself.  I feel like it must have been when my brother was still quite small, so maybe I was 6 years old.   I remember being so proud that I was finally big enough to go to the store by myself.  I walked to the store that was maybe a block or two away.  I went in and got the jug of milk like I was told and was headed home again.  The jug had a little plastic red handle for carrying without a bag. I was feeling like a big girl so, I decided to carry it with the little flappy plastic handle like the grown-ups did.  I was crossing the road at the corner like I was taught when suddenly the handle broke, and the milk fell to the ground busted open and spilled everywhere!  I started to cry instantly Continue reading “Why I Cry Over Spilled Milk!”

“You Think You Have All of The Power?”

Could there be any more powerless invoking words to hear?

I was immediately immobilized with fear and shock when I heard those words!

I met him through an online dating site 4 years earlier.  When we first met in person, I fell madly in-love from the moment I looked into his beautiful ocean blue eyes!   He was tall, handsome, strong, smart, charming…   Continue reading ““You Think You Have All of The Power?””

Avoiding My Birthday!

Today is August 14th and it’s a good day because I survived yesterday! Yesterday was my birthday, and honestly, it was not great. I don’t know why I find my birthday day so hard lately but the one memory that comes to mind and I just cant seem tot stop reliving it even though it happened 4 years ago.  I was on holidays with my blended family on a road trip across the North West states. I awoke in the family motorhome wrapped up in the arms of my new husband, the love of my life.  I laid there a while in his arms, enjoying the time and wondering what he had planned for my birthday.  Did he make me something as a gift?   He was so good at making things!  Were we gonna go somewhere exciting and do something really fun that he had planned?  Did he have the kids planning a surprise to make my day special?  I was so excited, albeit a little confused that he didn’t acknowledge my birthday when he woke first thing.  But i stuffed that thought away because it was early morning still so I got up and made coffee and breakfast for all.   As the teenagers rolled out of bed, I greeted them with their “Happy Birthday Breakfast”.   They each replied “Whose birthday?”   I said “Mine”.  They replied with “Happy Birthday!”   It was a great start to the day and it could only get better.  Once again, I tried not to notice s that my newlywed hubby still did not wish my a Happy Birthday…  I didn’t want to acknowledge it because there was no way he would ignore my day, so he must be planning something and is just being a little aloof to throw me off.   So we finished breakfast and packed up the motorhome and got on the highway for the next leg of our journey.  This was gonna be an awesome day!  I love being on holidays for my birthday because I get to spend the whole day with my favorite people doing fun stuff.  We motored along and then stopped for lunch and still not a word from my hubby…  No one mentioned my birthday since breakfast.  So I started to hint a little “What’s the plan for today?”, “Anything special planned?”, “What you got in mind for tonight?”…   the answers were empty and non-descriptive… was he being elusive to throw me off still?  or was he actually ignoring my birthday?

The one thing I had on my agenda while on this holiday was for us to go do some back to school shopping in Oregon.   We crossed the state line into Oregon mid-afternoon.  I was sitting in the back of the motor home most of the day and still now – my hubby was driving, with his youngest boy riding shotgun and his other son right behind him.    As we got close to the outlet mall, I reminded him of my desire to go shopping, but he kept driving and just seemed to be ignoring me.   He drove right past it without saying a word.  He didn’t seem to care what I wanted and he still didn’t acknowledge my birthday.   We drove for another while as I thought well maybe he has something else in mind.    I felt my resentment rise and I was starting to get very angry and hurt. I was the only one working at this time and I was paying for the entire family vacation – because we were married and I wanted us to be a family.   The afternoon rolled on just as the miles did on the odometer and now it was past 5:00 when he finally stopped for gas.   He then looked back at me and asked if I wanted to stop at a grocery store to pick up something for supper.   Now I was convinced there was no birthday plans!  I lost it!  I go so mad!!!   I exploded and told him exactly what I thought.   I told him he was selfish and insensitive and I couldn’t believe how hurt I was.  I asked him to take me and my kids to the airport so we could fly home, because this vacation was over!

He seemed baffled that I would react so intensely and honestly so was I.   I couldn’t believe how much was built up inside of me and I just blew my lid.   I felt so hurt and sad that I married this man, who could not even find it in his heart to wish me a Happy Birthday!

That day wasn’t the beginning of our troubles, but it was a turning point.   We were divorced 4 months later.

I keep reliving that day and asking myself if I over-reacted?  Maybe, but that was also the first day I stood up for myself and my children and started to reclaim my identity that had been slowly slipping away since the day I met Mr. Prince Charming!

Every year I relive that day’s events and I am hurt all over again.  The week leading up to my birthday this year was very emotional as it seems to be every year since that day.

So last night I took some time to live there in that day again to try and sort through my emotions.   What about that whole experience was causing me so much pain?  Why was I still so hurt?  I know that in order to truly get over that hurt, I need to recognize the real cause of the hurt.   As I challenged my thoughts and the story I made up about that day, I started to realize that it was a confabulation I had told myself of his narcissism that prevented him from loving me and my hurt was just part of the process.   But that was him – we have been broke up for 4 years now and this was still haunting me.   What part did I play in all of this?  Why couldn’t  I let it go?

After a lot of soul searching and questioning my own beliefs of the events of that day, I realized that I had been telling myself that I was not worthy of his birthday blessings and every year since then have told myself I am not worthy of any birthday wishes including my own!

Well isn’t that just crazy?   So because that man was incapable of wishing me a happy birthday, my own ego has built up a whole conspiracy theory that I am not worthy of anyone’s well wishes!   Wow!   This actually blows my mind because if anyone of my friends or loved ones told me this, I would immediately tell them to “Stop being so freaking crazy!”

That was it!  I was crazy making on myself!

We tell ourselves some crazy stories to justify our hurt.   And then we believe that story so much, we apply it to all other similar situations. This is a sort of self-sabotage and verbal abuse that is common when trying to avoid hurt but in reality, the hurt never goes away, and all I did was make the hurt fester and grow…  no more!

This morning when I woke, I felt a big relief and decided I need to write this story, so I don’t forget next year that I am enough and I am worthy!

Happy Belated Birthday to me!

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Hurt manifests in many ways and festers when we try to suppress it.   According to Brene Brown in her book, “Rising Strong”, there are 5 common strategies for avoiding hurt: 1. Chandeliering; 2. Bouncing; 3. Numbing; 4. StockPiling; and 5. Getting High Centred.   If you are hurting and avoiding it, then you will feel stuck and unable to rise above to find peace and happiness.

Solo Parenting SoS!

A couple of weeks ago I went out to dinner with some friends who have teenagers a similar age as mine.  I was the “solo” friend with 2 couples – one couple was a blended family of 2 single parents that have merged their 4 children and added one since being together.  The other couple were high school sweethearts that have stayed together with their 3 children for 20+ years.   We spent a lot of the evening catching up and talking about our children.   As the stories of moody teenagers, experimenting with independence and immortality were told, I took some mental notes on how these families handled similar battles that I faced with my own.   It quickly became clear that their secret was something I never realized – having a mediator in the mix.   As they explained it, when one of the teenager’s steps out of line or things get heated with one parent, the other parent steps in as the “mediator”.   Still keeping safety and respect at the forefront but offering enough arbitration so that both the teen and the parent feel heard.

Really???   Teenagers need to be heard???    Continue reading “Solo Parenting SoS!”

He is My Dad!

A couple months ago I was in emergency with my dad who was not doing well.   He was struggling with congestive heart failure and had just had 550 ml of fluid drained from his lung the day before.   As I sat there, I reflected on how fortunate I was to be with him at that time!   He came into my life when I was just 6 years old and became my dad when my mother married him and he raised me like his own child.  He has a heart bigger than any man I have ever met.   The irony though is that his heart is exactly why he was in emergency.  20+ years ago he had a massive heart attack that resulted in a quadruple bypass and the beginning of his struggle with heart failure.  When we came into the hospital 3 days prior, his heart was functioning on 34% capacity.   That has gone down and I have since learned he is in the end stage of Congestive Heart Failure with just 20% heart function now.   And yet, there is no one that shines brighter – when he smiles, he smiles from deep inside his heart and he lights up the room.   

This man means the world to me.  Although he is no longer married to my mother, he has never stopped being my dad!  

When the cardiologist promised to take care of him, I felt relief.   When he told us to be prepared that anything can happen and any day he just might run out of steam – my heart stopped and my body went numb…. Continue reading “He is My Dad!”

Time’s Up!

When I was 9 years old we moved to a very small town (130 residents) in Newfoundland from the big city of Toronto. We moved “back home” to be close to family and because my parents thought it would be good for us kids to grow up in a small town. I was so excited to start over somewhere new and hoped the bullying would not follow me! Growing up with Freake as your last name was all the kids needed to single me out and make fun.  The bullying was so terrible that I hated going to school most days.   I hated my name! I made a deal with my mom that I would no longer be Charlene Freake  Continue reading “Time’s Up!”

Codependent – Seriously?

“Read the book Codependent No More by Melody Beattie” was her advice.   Codependent???  What is that? I had never heard that term before…

I was willing to do anything to help my husband, so I left my therapist’s office and went straight to Chapters and purchased the book.

My husband was in the hospital again, they were calling it depression and generalized anxiety disorder but they really didn’t have any answers.  No one knew at that time about the self-medicating with alcohol…  Continue reading “Codependent – Seriously?”

Safety first!

I pulled into the driveway unsure what to expect.  I turned to my 2 children in the backseat and told them to stay in their seats for a minute and mommy would be right back.   I had a terrible feeling deep inside my heart that something was wrong – something was more wrong – things have been bad for a long time, but I kept telling myself things would get better…   I took a deep breath and went into the house and down to the basement where he has been sleeping for months now.    I opened the bedroom door with fear in my heart Continue reading “Safety first!”