The next stage of my journey is an unknown to me. I have spent so many years being afraid of AF. I no longer need that fear, and so far it is difficult to allow to slip away. That fear has been both friend and foe to me for 38 years now. That fear helped me to survive, to plan, to anticipate, to protect. Everything feels foreign now without that haze of fear to guide me.
Like I’ve been hiding in the storm shelter and I have stepped out into the blinding sunlight. I am relieved the storm has passed, but the dazzling sunlight is showing me the extent of the damage. I need to move out of survival and into rebuilding. This stirs up all kinds of new fears – what if there is nothing to rebuild? Can I start over? Is there a foundation here at all, is it worth digging through the rubble or is it better to walk away from it and start fresh?
I feel as if I have options that I have never seen before. And the sheer enormity of those options is taking my breath away and causing extra stress.
Christmas with the in-laws went wonderfully. For the first time in my life, I spoke freely to them about my life with AF. It was so easy now. The fear was gone AND the shame was gone. They were all angry for me, and it was good for all of us to talk about the things we have never talked about. I don’t think I’m explaining this very well. I’m trying to say that it was a relief for all of us, to not have to tiptoe around ‘my issues’ and discuss it like any other problem. It was validating for me and I felt like a part of the family for the first time. I allowed myself to feel like a part of it, because you see, it was always me that kept myself isolated.
They asked why I never spoke of any of this, and I said I couldn’t, that I was so ashamed. My amazing MIL got angry and said that was ridiculous and terrible I had to feel like that and good riddance to that terrible man. She said I should rip up the will and never look back. It is over – she said. I have never felt so accepted and understood.
Christmas in my own house was pure joy. My favorite day of the year, full of magic and surprises. No worries, no stress, just all of us in our own little bubble enjoying each other’s company. We played and laughed together from 7am to 11pm. My new job made Santa extra generous this year, and that felt good.
But under this joy, or along with it, I have this nagging stress. My body is in a permanent state of alarm that I don’t know how to reverse. I want to take time off work, I want the kids to stay at Grandma’s, I feel I need a break. NO – I feel I am breaking.
How can I feel so happy and yet so stressed too? How do I get this stress out of me? I gained another 2 pounds, my eating, sleeping, exercising is not yet balanced. My thoughts race and it takes me hours to refocus and do my job. I am highly emotional, and unable to shake off idiotic comments from coworkers. Nothing is helping me to relax and I don’t know what to do with myself.
So I just keep going, but I’ve been on this dangerous road to burnout before. The last time I had a full time job and this much daily stress I gained weight and nearly made it to 200 pounds on my tiny frame. I’m hoping to stop before getting there again. I look pregnant right now, all this weight in my bulging belly. I’m unable to exercise much, feeling too frantic or too tired. The thought of putting on shoes is too much right now.
I know I need to take care of myself, but I don’t know how, I don’t know what I need right now. Life is moving much faster than I can keep up. Each hour marches on and leaves me more behind. Like each hour I must choose:exercise, sleep, work, house chores, art, TV, shower, etc. The choices are overwhelming and I almost always choose work or TV, since the work is so behind, and TV offers me an escape. A nice walk would probably be better, but so hard to choose it right now.
Hubby is worn out too, I can’t keep leaning on him. Maybe there is no solution, except to carry on and do what I can, when I can, without hating myself for these unhealthy choices along the way. And each day brings spring and sunshine closer (why do I live in this dreary sunless state?), and maybe this is just a wait it out kind of thing and not a do-do-do change-change-change fix-fix-fix kind of thing.