My life, this past year or so, has resembled a rollercoaster, with many ups and downs and a few hair-raising turns. This time last year was not a bright spot in my life. In fact it was one of the worst experiences I’ve been through. My hubby was off work with a serious knee injury and spent a good deal of his time sitting in a chair, moody and introspective (not that I blamed him). And I was dealing with the knowledge that my health issues were such that I couldn’t continue to work every day, yet the job-sharing alternative was offering its own set of stressful challenges.
By far the most traumatic event was when my oldest son, my only child left living locally, and his precious family moved away to their new life adventure in Alberta, leaving me feeling as bereft as though there had been a death in the family. I’m not being melodramatic when I state this. I absolutely felt gutted, heartbroken, empty…and I cried many tears during that time. As I type this, I’m looking through a haze of tears, it’s still has such an emotional impact on me.
Left alone to our own devices, Hubby and I had some decisions to make. He could sit in his chair, wallowing, and cursing the fates that were slowly breaking down his strong body. And I could nurse my heartache, finding no joy in life. Or we could make the choice to be happy. Happy and healthy. I count our blessings every day that we chose the latter.
What we’ve had to do is learn how to be selfish. This might sound strange, but it’s the absolute truth. All my adult life, I’ve been a mom first. I’ve always put my kids ahead of anything else. We scrimped and saved so they could play their sports. And we put in long hours of volunteer work to those various sports. Willingly and happily, I was always my boys’ number one fan, no matter what they did.
As they got older, the focus shifted, as it should. They didn’t need me as much, especially the older two once they got married. But they always knew where to find me if they needed me and I supported them in any way possible. And once the grandkids came along, I eagerly envisioned becoming their number one fan too, attending their school activities, their various sporting events. A loving part of their lives, watching them grow into strong young men.
Suddenly that was no longer my reality. No sleepovers with the little ones. No big family dinners. No more big family anything. Hubby and I were alone.
A couple of things happened to get us on the path we’re currently following. Hubby saw a specialist for his knee and was advised to read a book called Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Dr. Harry Lodge. A most excellent book that really opened our eyes and I highly recommend everyone over 50 read it. As well, I started researching something called the Gupta Programme for help with my various health issues. In essence we made the decision to focus on ourselves, on our health. To put ourselves first.
Hubby bought a recumbent bike and began riding it for an hour or more every day. He also started a rigorous exercise program. As a result, he lost a good deal of the excess weight he carried. He began working with a wonderful kinesiologist, Lise Dallien Macmillan and she’s done wonders to help him build his leg muscle to compensate for knees that no longer do their job. I’m so proud of how hard he’s worked physically and mentally to get to a better place.
My progress has been slower, focused in a different direction. I’m a very driven person. I call myself an imperfect perfectionist and I put massive pressure on myself all the time. Do it faster, do it better. Whatever it is. And I’d begun to experience paralyzing anxiety, with the feeling of being on a treadmill, running my little legs off but not getting anywhere. So while Hubby has mostly needed to focus on his physical health, I needed to focus on my mental and emotional health. I made the difficult decision to quit my job in July. Not necessarily a smart move with Hubby off work too, but I don’t regret it. I’d been expending too much emotional energy on that job, leaving me depleted and exhausted. And I started the Gupta amygdala retraining programme to deal with my CFS, FM and MCS. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and I’ve dedicated an entire future post to this topic.
A top priority for Hubby and me is to have fun, preferably in way that is also conducive to bettering our health. We sold our boat and bought a kayak. It’s been a real experience learning to use it, but it’s also great fun. We’ve always loved hiking and biking, but tended not to make the time do it often enough. We now make that time. And sometimes it’s as simple as taking a nice walk together, in our neighbourhood or along our beautiful lakeshore. We’re fortunate to have so many scenic choices in our picturesque valley. In the coming weeks, I’ll post some pictures of our many summer adventures.
It hasn’t been all rosy. Hubby, now back to work, still struggles with daily pain and likely always will. I still have days where the sadness overtakes me and I have to remind myself of all the good things in life. I’m trying hard to slow my mind and relax more. And it’s working because in the past several months, there’s been more highs than lows, more laughter than tears.
We’re in a better place than we were a year ago because we’ve made a conscious decision to choose health and happiness.