When I wrote of going home a couple posts ago, it prompted a few emails from old friends I haven't spent much time with since I left the Valley of the Sun nearly six years ago, so I figure I'll answer them and provide a little back story here, as well.
The fact is, I just haven't felt good in a very long time. And, the worse I've felt, the less I do. To the point where I may have actually evolved into the slug genus (or family or whatever the scientific term is) at some point along the way. I might make it to work, but increasingly, I haven't. I might make it to church, but increasingly, I haven't. Most days, I just don't feel well, but increasingly, I have been full-on sick and in pain. (In case you're wondering, I'm being paid by Thesaurus.com for every word over three syllables that I write; double for every word I use more than once.) (Not really. That was a lie. Just looking for a little diversion from the subject matter. I get a little uncomfortable talking about this stuff.)
OK, so we've been doing lots of tests and scans and such, and "the big scaries" have been pretty much ruled out, so now we're down to the deep digging to try to get at the root of it all. I don't think it's going to be earth shattering, what we ultimately find. I've felt for some time that it all resides in the gut -- that we're going to find that the curse of "The Fraley Stomach" is in play (which covers everything from colon cancer to nervousness to Chron's disease, and my Dad's take on the family curse, diverticulitis) and it has been ignored for so many years that my body is just saying it's had enough.
Seem drastic to quit everything just so you can learn how to eat in a manner that won't cause your entire system to revolt? It is. But I have to. And while there are all sorts of ways doing this is going to make my life better, the fundamental, most overriding reasons I've decided to are because: 1) I don't want this less than half-life, this vague "I just don't feel like it" lack of focus, not up for anything state to be the totality of my children's experience with me as their mother; and 2) I know with every bit of me that this is the right thing to do.
There was a time when my life was wildly out of balance because I was working in that crazy field of public relations, where you are on all the time -- or at least I was, because I didn't know how to shut it off. That's not to say I was working all the time, because I wasn't, but I was always hyper aware, thinking of how to develop a strategy for a client, wondering if a creative proposal was going to be accepted, wondering if I was going to convince that television producer or that newspaper editor to run the story I pitched, hoping that client was not going to step in it; worrying whether the hundreds of thousands of dollars we'd spent on an event series was going to net the return in real estate purchases and investments our clients were counting on. I couldn't turn it off. And with four tiny ones at home who were spending a lot of quality time with a nanny and to whom I gave every bit of energy and smiles I had left, it didn't take many years before it all kind of started crumbling.
I admit it was I who didn't know how to achieve balance, but it doesn't alter the fact that I was worn out and tho in my early 30s, my body started to show it. I began to be sick a lot; my clients had no idea how much of the work I did for them was done from bed. I began missing deadlines. Making excuses -- oh, I HATE the making excuses.Thankfully, we had the wherewithal to provide really healthy, quality nutrition for our family, so even if we were eating out we were eating well. I know that kept me clicking along in spite of the lack of rest and restoration.
But, the years took their toll and started a process in my body that I didn't even know was underway. And somehow, it led to where I am now. And I don't want this.
I wish my kids hadn't had the experience they have with my various, near-constant blahs, but there's no going back. So now, what I want is for my children to be able to say, "Yes, there was a long time when Mom was always sick and just didn't really take care of things, but then she got well and our lives changed."
Now, it's not all doom and gloom - really, the kids are fine. We have a good relationship, they know they're loved, we laugh a lot, and they're wonderfully on track. Mike and I are solid -- we love each other and are each other's very best friends -- through thick and thin, that boy and I are good. But, it's time to get better now, to stop barking orders from a chair in the living room, to stop wishing they knew how strong and active I once was and instead to be strong and well again.
I have felt over the years that through every trial that could have broken us - financially, spiritually, as a couple, in health matters - that God has protected us. That he has kept the wolves at bay, so to speak, and kept us safe until we could deal with what was in front of us. I continue to feel that way. There's no other explanation for why our little family hasn't just completely fallen apart. :) But we haven't. We're good, in spite of the home projects that haven't been advanced, the countless things I've forgotten to take care of for the kids because I was just too muzzy-headed to remember it all, the meals that haven't been cooked, the trips we haven't taken, the bills I didn't have the energy to pay in spite of having the money to, all of it. In spite of all of the ways we've been completely out of order, we have been blessed with so much love and joy and laughter and strong bonds. It feels like we've been protected until I could finally make this choice to take care of myself, and I trust that this is not the time when the protection will be lifted, rather it'll see me through this to the other end too.
That isn't to say this was an easy decision or an easy time. It's been tough. My pride --oh, my poor pride -- has taken a beating. Calling in sick again and again. Being mortified to leave a job I'd only taken 7 months ago. Seeing disapproval and skepticism in the eyes of some -- oh, that's a fun one. Not being myself -- or being able to show what I'm really capable of, to operate at the level that I used to, to not be a dynamo -- wanting to throw in a disclaimer every time I turn around of, "Seriously, this isn't me. I'm actually pretty stinking good at this stuff, usually." And realizing I've wanted to throw in that disclaimer since circa 2005, when it all started to really seem to hit. All of that was tough. I mean TOUGH. There are some who have been left unimpressed -- I'm enough of a Leo for that to really smart. But, obviously, that should be the least of it. I'm human enough, too, though, to admit that this was some of the hardest part.
But, none of that matters now. I can say that and believe it, though it's a tentative statement. I know I should be doing this without reservation, but frankly, it's been a hard decision and there's been a lot of self-deprecating, I-don't-want-to-look-like-a-failure-or-a-flake recriminations pounding around inside. But, I've decided to be a big girl and set that aside and embrace what I know is true -- that this is right and it's necessary and I will be blessed and so will those closest to me and that's all that counts. I've been playing to that critical audience in my mind for a darn long time, and it's received enough of me.
I had a doctor recently who said to me (first with the disclaimer that he didn't usually go therapist on his patients or get emotional,) "I don't sense that even now, while you're sitting here telling me that you really want to get to the bottom of this and get well, that you really believe you deserve it. It's as if you seem to feel the need to apologize for taking time to focus on yourself. You speak of your love for your husband, and needing to be well to take care of a sick kid, but I don't think you realize that you need to get well just because you're worth it. You don't need to earn it or justify it -- you're just worth it and that's enough reason to be here." Then he told me to drink a gallon of water every day and add 400 uninterrupted steps to my day and come back in a week and we'll discuss what we were going to do next. Of all the docs I've been to lately, he's my favorite.
So. That's the back story. I haven't felt good for a long time -- and all the chaos and clutter and pain I've felt on the inside is now visible on the outside - my body, my swollen face, my messy house, the neglected bills and neglected relationships. The stuff I haven't taken care of because I just felt so darn bad. It will all be OK once I am.
OH GOOD GRIEF. This is so much blech, but there you have it. I don't expect I'll be loading this space down with all the ins and outs of it, but we'll see how it goes. I'm not putting a lot of parameters on this time yet -- the time starting this coming Friday, by the way, the 1st day after my last day of work. I'm actually excited and keep forcing myself to wait till Friday to really dig in and figure out how I'm going to go about this. The anticipation has been like waiting for Christmas when I was a little girl, or a George Strait concert, or going to the temple with Mike -- it really does have me excited because I know I'm going to come out the other end well and strong and by extension, my family will be well and strong, too. I admit I'm still not comfortable with the "you have to love yourself" and "I deserve it" stuff. But I hope through this evolution, I'll come to embrace those ideas, too. Mostly, I just want to be strong, feel good, restore order and set my kiddos on a healthy path, feed Mike some healthy food and help him turn our messy little homestead into a darling little farm, and be healthy. Then, I'll figure out where to go next. (Oh, I'd like to look hot, too; you know, in that respectable-mother-of-four-mid-forties-but-dang-there's-something-simmering-there kind of way. That, too.)
I'm not interested in the before-and-after pictures variety of change here; it's more personal and important and holistic and spiritual and life-molding than a moment in time, "there, I've done it" kind of thing. I don't know how the journey is going to unfold, but I trust myself, and trust that I'm here for a reason, and I'm going to sort this out well and check every step against my strong spirit to make sure it's right, and I'll continue to be protected. Because I don't believe God brought me this far in such a broken state to leave me when I finally begin to unfurl. I think he likes me a lot and has been looking forward to this part, too, so I think he'll be with me. I think lots of smiling and the occasional fist pump will ensue, as well.
Alright, enough. Looking forward to getting on with it.
Love from the farm,