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Calling ‘TIME’… the benefits of saying ‘NO!’

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Calling ‘TIME’…the benefits of saying ‘NO!’

 

The moment came… I knew I finally had to call ‘TIME,’ I finally had to say… ‘NO.

I’m pretty sure my life is not too dissimilar to many of yours. I have family and friends, I have a career, a home and dogs. I have an illness. I have meals to cook and bills to pay but for a while I’ve been really struggling. The daily grind had become harder. Pain and fatigue had been eating away at the passion within me. My motivation had dwindled. For someone who is a ‘glass half full’ person, I found this difficult to cope with!

So after a lot of deliberating, I had to face my employer and I had to do something very difficult. I had to admit that I could not… just simply could not, return to work. I know it must have looked strange after two months of Summer holidays with plenty of time to recharge but my health finally shouted loud, and long enough and against my will I was forced to listen…My body told me I could not give what I had not got. I needed to call ‘TIME.’

Now almost five weeks on and I’m beginning to feel a little better. Better still I’m finally beginning to learn from the whole experience.

I thought you might be interested in some of the insights I’ve gained…

I’ve had to learn to listen to my body. You can only ill treat it and ignore it’s cries for so long.

I’ve had to learn to respect my body by giving it the time out and rest that it needs.

I’ve had to learn to speak up for myself, admitting that I could not commit to what was expected of me, was very difficult.

I’ve had to learn to let go of the pretence. For almost 20 years I’ve pretended to be something I’m not. I’ve pretended to be well but in fact I’ve got an illness that impacts and restricts every part of my daily life. It took courage to overcome my fear of being seen as a failure.

I’ve had to fight for my rights to illness benefit even after presenting certificates from my GP but I contained my emotions and focused on the issue; my financial stability.

I’ve had to withstand the pressure of enquiries about when I expected to be fit enough to return to work. I chose not to see this as bullying but instead as an administrative timetabling issues.

I’ve had to find the strength to say no initially but harder still I’ve had to find the strength to accept myself for saying no and for slowing down. Finding peace for myself within that decision was probably the most difficult hurdle I had to overcome. Thank you Dr.Andrea at Thriving Under Pressure for your timely post and comment. The Paradox of Strength

I’ve had to silence the self-doubt that comes with an invisible illness because for example, you might have seen me out for a twenty minute walk and heck, I look well. I’ve had to remind myself that you won’t see my post exercise malaise or feel the pain the next two hours or entire evening will bring.

I’ve had to do battle between exhaustion and isolation and try to make peace with these two evils.  Read about that battle here.

I’ve had to learn to let go, trusting that the things I don’t reach on are not necessarily vital things and that the people I don’t reach on will understand and not cut our connections.

I’ve had to learn that life goes on without me, my role can easily be covered by another healthier body and I’ve had to work hard to accept the lack of enquiries as to my wellbeing from my employer and not engage in predictive thinking where your inner voice wants you to believe it’s because you are easily replaced.

I’ve had to ask myself “who am I” without my job, without my students and colleagues and I’ve acknowledged that I need people in my life but I’ve also acknowledged that you can be alone in a crowd. Thank you Dutch for your insightful comments and shared quotes.  Dutch @ onthepathleasttraveled

I’ve had to learn that I don’t need to travel this road alone. I’ve done that for 20 years too long. Now I need support with this illness and I’ve already learned a lot about CFS/fibro in the last week or two and I’m hoping to come to understand it and myself a little bit more. Thanks Jennifer @ Tea with Jennifer for a lightbulb moment…Knowing your bodies capacity

Saying ‘No’ meant I stepped into the unknown. It was a sign that I was finally unable to contain my vulnerability, and that was scary territory for me. I used to be able to manage my CFS/fibro and hide my vulnerability. By calling ‘TIME” and finally saying STOP – FULL STOP, I have learned a lot and now I am stronger than I was. I have regained some motivation and the passion is returning. Also, the cat is out of the bag… I no longer have a hidden illness. I am Marie with CFS/fibro and if my life has to change as a result then I say, bring it on!

Thanks for taking time to visit and please feel free to share your thoughts. I will reply to your comments as quickly as I can.

Have you had similar struggles? Have you hidden behind a mask? Have you like me, been afraid of being a failure?

How do you bring passion back into your life?

Much love,

Marie xx

Exhaustion or isolation…which is the lesser evil?

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When you have an invisible illness you hide it from others maybe for the fear of being judged or that people won’t understand.

Thankfully I’m getting better at being open about my CFS/Fibro. I’ve often been told how well I look or that I must have a great exercise routine but the truth is I’m just lucky to have a slim frame and have a good understanding of the importance of a balanced diet. In reality I often have to choose between getting a 20 minute walk or cooking the dinner because if I do one I certainly have to forfeit the other.

I’ve felt unwell since Easter but kept pushing myself to the limit to remain in the classroom with my students up to the summer holidays hoping I could recoup my energy then. I also rose to the challenge of an exciting new experience because I wanted some adventure, some fun and some new learning in my life, by attending ICASSI BONN 2017

While Bonn was wonderful it’s now apparent that I drained down an already low battery and as a result I’ve exacerbated a heart complaint. Now I’ve hit the wall.  I’ve had no choice but to stop.  I’m unable to function at home let alone work.

But the hardest part is I’m really missing the social interaction.  I live in the countryside and I feel the isolation.  I miss my colleagues and the daily conversations we had.  I miss my students. I miss being a part of their lives because they helped me take the focus off my own struggle with chronic pain. Their eagerness to contribute to our classes encouraged me to overcome some of my fatigue.  They let me into their lives and being focused on their goals got me through many days where I thought I would surely crumble under the stress that bullying was having on both our teenage children.

I soaked up my students’ warmth and inclusion.  We were partners in a learning space.  On a daily basis I let my students see my difficulty with spellings…how crazy is that I hear you say, a literacy tutor who struggles with spellings? Initially my students thought I should be an expert in spellings but my struggle showed them that it’s ok to make spelling errors and that spellings are something you can continue to improve throughout your lifetime. Soon they relaxed and worried less about spellings.

I have learned that I am not responsible for my students’ learning but I am responsible for my own teaching.  However the fibro fog, pain and exhaustion prevents me giving the level of service I want to give.  It makes the endless bureaucracy involved in the preparation of class materials and assessment requirements insurmountable.

Now I have to listen to my body and practice self-care.  I have to accept the exhaustion and isolation and that takes strength.  I have to recharge my own battery first and my one fear is can I ever sufficiently recharge a battery that is chronically drained?

Much love,

Marie xx

Bullying…”I am grateful for it all”…

My son is less than a month away from his exam results and in expectation of enough points for his chosen 3rd level programme, we completed the application form for his accommodation together last night.

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We discussed choices of accommodation.  We considered the different fees and charges and their due dates. As we worked down through the application form, I was surprised when he stopped and turned to me saying he was “excited!”.

You see, excited was not a word in his vocabulary for a long time. His happiness and excitement were taken from him by bullying.
His journey through primary and 2nd level education has been a very difficult time for him. To be honest it has been one of life’s greatest challenges for all of us, individually and as a family.

But when he turned to me last night and referring to it all, calmly said, “I am grateful for it all” then I knew that the upset, frustration, isolation, insomnia and every other barrier we faced was for a reason. It was all needed in order to bring him and us to the happy place we have reached today.

So, I’m sure you can imagine how great it was to hear him voice his excitement! I told him I was excited for him too and for the future he has ahead of him!

But I knew what he meant; he has learned a lot, we have all learned a lot thanks to the painful lessons of bullying.  We know that his bullies’ words and actions slowly wore down his resilience.   We now know that his happiness and excitement wasn’t taken from him by bullies. Instead, he thought he was powerless. He allowed his happiness and excitement to be taken by those bullies, we did too, we gave them power over us by letting their behaviour affect us.  We didn’t engage in self-care or nurture ourselves enough.

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But not anymore! Now we know how to listen to our feelings.  We can identify signs of stress. We can see those bullies for who they are!  We know their back-story and we’d take our story over their story any day!

We can move forward now from a place of confidence and hope. And we can also with conviction say these painful lessons were indeed the greatest teacher!

Much love,

Marie xx

P.s Isolation is one of the most difficult aspects of bullying, if this post resonates with you please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

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