As someone who prides herself on trusting her gut, I’m not sure why I keep pushing myself to stick with something, hoping it will magically get better. This is with everything –school, work, relationships, reading a book, watching a TV show or a movie. Sticking with something to the (bitter) end, even if I know it is not going to end well for me, is a bad habit of mine. I try to put a positive spin on it. You know, that I’ve got a strong sense of loyalty, commitment, and the ability to complete the most mundane tasks with a “dogged persistence” …etc., etc., etc. As I have gotten older, I’ve lost some of my patience, but have come to realize the value of my time. For all the time I gained during 2 years of the (still ongoing) pandemic, it cruelly re-enforced how precious little time I have left. (This is all in the grand scheme of things. I am not planning to check out anytime soon, but I am heading over the hill sooner than I care to think about.) I realize quickly when something is or is not working for me, even if I don’t act on it. And that’s what drives me crazy about, well, me.
It is a struggle for me to act fast enough when I know something isn’t right. I should know by now, because I have lived through the long, painful goodbye too many times. Based on my past life experiences, I should just go with what I know to be true at the time. I don’t even know why it’s so hard for me to trust my instincts and follow through on those feelings. I have my suspicions, of course. Fear and self-doubt can definitely add to a lack of action, even if I consider myself a confident person. Some of it comes from my upbringing. I mean, I live with the very man who repeatedly told me that “prevention is better than cure”, so any rush or impulsive action would surely lead to doom. (I do not have kids, but I surely understand that you will always be a child in the eyes or your parents. Even if you are helping to take care of them, as they once did for you.)
Anyway, this behavioural pattern of mine has been hard to break. It has gotten better, in that I am able to recognize the behaviour as it’s happening (hooray for therapy), but I definitely have not gotten to the part where I’ve changed my behaviour as a result. I still let that nagging little voice inside my head that tells me to “give it some time” or “give it another chance” come through the loudest, just before I’m about to pull the plug on something. I’m trying to hold myself accountable, since I’ve wanted to be more “carpe diem” with my life. I know what’s important to me, but I also know what’s important for me. And, yet, listening to myself and protecting time for myself fall too low on my priority list to act on. This is quite common, I’m told, for most caregivers. We do not like to fail those who are in our care, but act a little loose when it comes to dealing with ourselves.
I’ve used all of these words to say that I’m coming up on some decisions that need to be made. They should have been made and actioned a while ago. It is too soon (ironically) to talk about them publicly, but I’m looking forward to finally following my gut. The hardest part is just making the decision, right?
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I’d like to say I fall into the “sandwich generation” – and while I have no children of my own to care for – I find myself falling somewhere in between caring for my mother and caring for my sanity. When I am not working, I have the honour of helping look after my amazing mother, who has suffered 2 strokes in the past 11 years. Being a caregiver is not for the faint of heart, and if I am being honest, it can be a crappy club to be a member of. I have fallen down more times than I care to count through this journey, but while channeling my incredible stubbornness, strength (both of which I come by honestly,) and several F-words (Faith, Family, Friends and Food), I keep getting back up. IG: @Coolman_Eh
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