Well, it has been a total revelation to me, the amount of time I was spending messaging people, catching up with people, checking in with people, doorstep visits to people…you get the drift. I was spending a lot of time making sure other people were ok, how they were coping with various issues in their lives, did they need anything collected, the list goes on. I am a people person, I am happy to chat away, get to know people and help people if I can. The various lockdowns and restrictions have caused a lot of anxiety for people. We have all kept in touch virtually, thank God for the internet!! But until I was told by the Dr to take a step back from everything and look after myself, I had no idea exactly how much time everyday I was spending looking out for others and putting myself last.
At first I felt very guilty stepping back but I was so tired out, it was all I could do to get up, shower and start my day. For someone usually so full of energy and on the go this was a tremendous change to the daily routine. I realised quickly that I didn’t need to check up on people daily, or even every other day, or even weekly. They were getting on very nicely without my input. Almost all of them have family members or other friends around them to call on. I have to be honest, some didn’t even notice I hadn’t been in touch. I had taken it upon myself to be there for friends, neighbours, friends of my parents and acquaintances and was happy to be there when needed. In the process I had worn myself out. Releasing myself from some contacts was difficult as I had become someone to let out all their woes to and no matter how hard I tried to turn a negative into a positive, they would turn it into a more negative conversation. I found this particularly draining but I did put myself first and step back from the situation. By trying to help some people, you actually end up adding to their issues as they keep talking about it and then you end up feeling awful too. It’s a fine balance I think between being there for someone and knowing when to step back so you are not drawn into their story. Lessons have been learned.
I also realised that some contacts weren’t happy with the reduction in contact not because they had anything wrong with them or needed help but because they no longer had access to me or what I was doing. Another revelation! People are nosey, who knew!!! I’ve always been a bit of an open book. My Dad often said to me that I didn’t need to tell certain people everything and not all those who pretend to be friends actually are friends. How right he was. I’ve always known this of course yet by stepping back to look after myself I was surprised that some contacts just wanted news. Honestly, I really don’t have that exciting a life…but I’m working on it!
The huge positives of the stepping back is that I found I had lots of time to do me things. I caught up with housework which I know can be mundane but I actually enjoy it. Finding Mrs Hinch has been amazing for cleaning hacks. I caught up with outstanding administration which had been sat there awaiting action. I sat back and strummed my guitar and wrote some songs. I researched and ordered my new laptop for my music course so that I can download and learn how to use Ableton (Digital Audio Software) go me!! I got out in the garden when the weather allowed and pottered about out there. I was careful not to overload myself with a heavy ‘To Do’ list. If I was tired, I slept. I am so happy to report that apart from still being physically tired, mentally the stress, overwhelm and constant feeling of needing to do something, has gone. I feel so at peace, relaxed and open again. I have fully understood now how important it is to look after yourself especially as we get older. All the time I was spending on other things and other people was preventing me from doing what I wanted to do, because I just didn’t have time. This epiphany has been very welcome indeed. Life has changed so much in the past two years for me and yet it is only now that I am emerging and seeing my life as my life. It’s time for me to do what I want to do. I can still be there for people, help people and support people, I just need to remember to put my boundaries in place and look after me first. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from a empty cup.
With love and sparkles xxx