Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Breaking free from Zombie land

Nearly a month has passed. Crazy days filled with sick children (still got three sickies); trips to hospital (with aforementioned sick child); husband having melt-downs due to changing anti-depressants; 15 year old son with Aspberger's being his usual challenging self; and the usual day-to-day stuff - shopping, cooking, cleaning, training, being referee for arguments, playing taxi driver........Sometimes feels like the demands will never end.
A few months ago a therapist that I see (thoroughly recommend everyone gets their own therapist!) suggested that for the whole of the school holidays, that I didn't do anything that I didn't want to do. Being someone who has been at the very, very bottom of my own priority list for, well, as long as I can remember, this sounded ridiculous. I could kind of see the method in her "madness", but I have six kids and a husband and a falling down house, and no money and so on, and so on. She added, that of course there would be things that I would have to do - 6 children, make a lot of washing - need I say more, just so long as I was doing these things consciously - making an active choice to do them.
It was an eye-opening two weeks. I spend so much of my life doing things because I "should". Because they "need" doing. Because someone else "needs" something. A lot of the time, I really get around like somewhat of a Zombie. I don't "see" what I'm doing, I don't experience what I'm doing. My body is present, but that's about it. My mind is ususally many km's ahead, on the next thing that I should be doing. And you know what else? I conducted my relationships in the same way....I wasn't really there when my four year old was showing me her latest artwork, or when my 13 year old was telling me about the latest drama at school, or when my husband was telling me how he was feeling, or even there for myself - I wasn't paying enough attention to myself to notice I was exhausted, or frustrated, or happy or sad.
Living like this had become a coping mechanism - there had been so much going on that was so difficult to manage, that being "checked out" meant that I could keep coping with all that was on my plate. Only trouble is, it comes at a price - 30kg's overweight for one, missing out on "life" with my family for another, never feeling joy - or anything else for that matter. Realising these things has been a massive step. Making changes is an ongoing challenge. Putting myself on my own priority list, has in many ways turned my family's world upside down. "No" wasn't something any of them heard from me very often. I'm guessing that I will never have enough hours in the day to do all of the things I want to do, that I will never play as many games of memory with my kids as I might like, that I will never have enough chats over a cup of tea with my husband, or that I might never sew all the creations in my head that I would like to create. I reckon though, that really being there for the game of memory and the cup of tea, and making time to get the sewing machine out once in a while, feeling my own feelings - whatever they are, is a much healthier place to be than Zombie land.