covid-19, Keeping It Real

Priorities

I started writing this post on August 24th, and then decided not to post it. In light of recent events, I came to my blog to share. On this platform when you go to write a blog, you can see how many drafts you have. I noticed that I had 7, so I went to my drafts, and this one was the first to pop up. It is very fitting again to what is going on in my life right now so I thought I would share it with all of you, two months later.

[As you read this blog keep in mind that I wrote it 2 months ago, so some of the events that I say “a couple of days ago” about were in reality moths ago.]

To all of you people who seem to have your work, exercise, nutrition, social and love life balanced and figured out, I commend you. To those of you laughing at me because you know better, and I should too, that nobody’s got this s*** figured out, thank you. Sometimes you really do need to laugh at yourself.

Lately I have been so bothered by the saying, “Nobody is too busy. You’re just not their priority.” This statement bothers me because I personally hate feeling left out and unimportant. And because I don’t like that feeling, I don’t want others to feel that way because of my actions or inactions. I hate feeling like I give but it’s not enough, to the point where I usually end up feeling like I take way more than I give.

At the same time, I know that it’s okay for priorities to shift. And sometimes when those priorities shift it may feel like you don’t have time for or don’t want to focus your energy on other things that you were able to give attention to before. I try not to let it bother me if I don’t hear from someone, I try to put myself in their shoes, and I hope that others do the same for me.

I say all of that and then still expect so much more of myself. Maybe it’s because of past experiences. In a previous blog I talked about friends groups and the changes I’ve had in my life time. Some of those changes were brought about by life’s events… graduating, moving, etc. I realize some of them were also due to this feeling I’m experiencing now. The anxiety of not being able to balance what I’ve been able to balance before, and my tendency to be an all or nothing person.

This summer has been unlike any summer I’ve had in years. Maybe even my whole life, honestly. As far back as I can remember, I’ve made myself busy during the summer. In the last 15 years I have done so to avoid feeling lonely since my husband usually works long hours in the summer. There are days on end when the only time I “see” him is when I realize he has climbed into bed in the wee hours of the morning.

But he’s unemployed because of COVID-19, and he’s unemployed indefinitely. So this summer I have been able to spend time with him and do things with him like I normally wouldn’t. Mind you, we haven’t done a whole lot – but it has made me realize just how much I miss him. I feel like there’s so much “lost time” to make up for. Throw in a health scare and a week long hospital stay, and well, there go those priorities.

I spoke to a friend of mine today who has a similar life situation – her and her husband have had little time together because of opposite shifts or busy seasons, much like me and my husband. I vented to her about my feelings of guilt and that desperation to “make up for lost time.” And how it was especially difficult to realize these feelings amidst health problems reminding us that we aren’t immortal.

Her response was so well thought out and worded, but to simplify it she said, “Me too. Give yourself grace. Be with your husband.” I never thought I would feel like I needed to give myself permission to be with my husband, my soul mate, the love of my life… but again, I’m a people pleaser. I fear that changing my priorities will let other parts of my life down, whether it be work, exercise, nutrition, my social life. And maybe my biggest fear is that I will let other people down.

My husband told me that I’ve been his hero through all of this, and that I’m a lot of other people’s hero too. As sweet as this was to hear, my response to him was, “Right now I just want to turn in my cape. I’m tired of being the hero.” Normally a compliment like this would make me feel so good because helping people and being there and talking are my favorite things to do. But y’all, this girl is on empty.

I’m trying to figure out this life balance thing, these priorities, but right now I just need a break. A break from expectations. A break from being told that things will get figured out, or that I need to work on figuring things out. I’m not trying to escape anything or anyone, but trying to let the pot simmer before it boils over, if that makes sense.

I’m trying to accept the things I cannot change. I’m trying to be brave enough to change what I can. And to recognize the difference.

[The remainder of this blog is written in my current situation as of 11/27/2020]

Since I wrote this blog and decided not to post it 2 months ago, I committed to my priorities. I took my friend’s advice and I gave myself grace. I spent time with my husband. I tried not to let myself feel bad for not always reaching out to people, for deleting social media apps or unfollowing people for my own mental health. It is not that I became cold or uncaring, in fact, it has been quite the opposite. I have made myself and my husband my top priority, and I have let everything else kind of figure itself out.

I make it sound like it has been easy. It definitely hasn’t been. I have constant thoughts of “Am I the bad guy? Am I hurting people?” And maybe in other people’s stories I am hurting them. I am the bad guy. I truly am sorry if that is the case, I’m just choosing to move on, move past things, and keep focusing on my priorities.

Thanksgiving was not the holiday I had hoped for. I had been looking forward to a 4 day weekend and had adventures planned with my husband. Instead I took my husband to the emergency room at 2 in the morning and he was admitted to the hospital. I am not able to visit him like I was in August due to hospitals being overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I spent yesterday in a state of exhaustion, unsure of what day it really was, due to lack of sleep two nights in a row – first in anticipation of an appointment for my husband where we would find out about elective surgery, then due to the stress of his condition flaring up and landing him back in the office. How funny, right after scheduling his surgery to hopefully cure his condition. I joked to a few friends that it was “Tuwenthursday” – the day that just kept going on and on and on.

This time instead of only talking to a couple of people about the situation, I reached out to many. Last time we kind of kept things to ourselves and then later starting telling people and it was absolutely exhausting to fill in all of the details. I thought by telling more people I would be exhausted yesterday but it was actually calming and relieving. It kept my mind occupied rather than just wishing I could be with my husband, wondering what would happen, thinking of all of the unanswered questions. And this time I am off work rather than waking up, visiting Ken before work, working the morning, spending my lunch break with Ken, finishing my work day, then going back to the hospital to spend the rest of visiting hours with Ken. I did that for a week. Now it sucks that I can’t visit him, but at least I’m not exhausting myself trying to keep up with everything.

While it was not the Thanksgiving I had hoped for, I am very thankful this year. I am thankful that I chose to take care of myself, to set boundaries, and to make myself and my husband my priority. I am thankful for the friends who understood and supported this, who have kept in touch and offered help in whatever way that they could. I am thankful for the staff at the hospital where I work who are taking care of my husband and all of the other patients during this scary, exhausting time. I am especially thankful for my husband who loves and supports me like nobody else, who makes me laugh, comforts me when I cry, and comes along for all of our adventures.

Happy (day after) Thanksgiving, everyone.

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