Self care and self worth.

Self care....We have all heard of the oxygen mask analogy right?  Put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on others?

Well in this season since my heart problems I have had to put myself first in a way I have never had to before.  It has been challenging.  It has been difficult to say "no", I have felt guilty, I have felt lazy, and the inner voice in my head has not always been kind.

The thing is, I LOOK well.  Mostly.  And when I feel crappy I pull up my socks, put on a smile and try to get on with it in public.  I have people give me all kinds of advice about needing to exercise to get my energy back, to health supplements (bee pollen anyone?), to people telling me I need to sleep less and its just my body clock messed up.  I gently tell them that my heart is infact weak and fatigued which means its working hard while I am simply at rest.  While on the inside I ache wondering if they think I'm "making it up", if they think I'm infact "lazy"


With the patritian wall down finally the table can be turned.  Now we can sit at the table AND open the fridge door!

For a while there I turned into a hermit, unable to manage much outside caring for myself and my family.  Today I'm pleased to say I'm on the mend - though not *quite* there yet, the good days are becoming more and more frequent.

But the lesson throughout it all remains with me.  I have been humbled.  I'm not invincible.  I can't do it all.  It takes more then will power to overcome some things.  Sometimes we need to strip everything back to the bare basics just to get through it.  Even then the task at hand can seem insurmountable.  I have been in tears from exhaustion at the never ending washing and the energy it took to fold it.  I have been utterly overwhelmed by a small list of necessary jobs needing to break them up into small blocks so I can rest between them.  I have felt like a failure again and again for not being able to manage even the smallest of tasks on a bad day.

The new kitchen/dine/lounge area finally opened up so you can feel and see the space.  

At times deep lonliness has filled my world.  My internal dialogue of self doubt dorwning out the logical knowledge that all my friends know I adore them, and just as I would want them to be at home and care for themselves if the tables had of been turned, that they would want the same for me.

My faith has taken a little battering.  Not that I have ever doubted Gods love and presence through this.  For I always think it is through the difficult times I see his love and grace the most, especially through the actions of those close to us supporting us.  But still its been hard.  It would be a lie if at times I had not felt really pissed off at God for things sometimes being so damn hard.  But I figure, God is big enough to handle that.

Laying the timber floating floors in the new master bedroom.

But as is often the case from hard things there is a deeper lesson throughout this which I have learned.  I have learned to back myself.  I have learned to quiet the inner voice of self doubt.  That doesn't mean it doesn't still exist - it does.  But instead I take the time to acknowledge it, breathe and re-centre myself with a variety of strategies.  Talking to the people who know me best, setting small achievable goals, celebrating the small successes, undertaking small rituals that fill my tank.  Listening to music, diffusing essential oils caring for my indoor pot plants are just a few.  Nothing ground breaking.  But for me it comes down to being conscious and pro-active about my inner "mean girl" if you will.

New wood fire.

So often our self worth comes from what we do.  I have had to leave work, defer study...No longer am I the theological student/chaplain/business partner/capable Mother.  But through being chronically unwell over the last 6 months I have come to realize I am "just Emma"  and actually, that is enough in itself.  Our value does not come from what we manage to successfully achieve, but it is instead something we each poses as part of who we each are and how we were created.  If we are unable to do those things, for what ever reason it does not mean we suddenly become "less".  Those things are not our whole identity.  They are simply the practical way we out work who we are at the core of our being, when we are able too.


The lighting of the first wood fire in the new slow combustion wood heater.

This has been a timely lesson.  As we face the prospect of a big life change, possibly moving interstate, living in a bus while we self build an off grid home....Well we are going to face push back.  In fact we already have.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing.  It means when someone pushes back and we find it uncomfortable we are forced to re-evaluate our goals.  We will either be swayed to a different path because they made good and valid points, or we will come back with a stronger plan and more resolve to forge ahead.  Who we are and what we are capable of doesn't change because of someone else's doubt.

Much Love,
Emma
xx


22 comments

  1. Emma I have been wondering how your health was holding up with so much upheaval in your life. I am so glad that you have realised that being, 'just Emma', is an amazing thing in itself.
    I think your inner 'mean girl', and mine should be locked in a room together. They can squabble and carry on and let us just get on and do what needs to be done. Working hasnt been an option for me for the past two years as I want my husband to be with me for many years to come. He has his good days and not so good. Not working means I am not bringing any money into the house. This has played at my sense of self worth and how I feel others see me.
    I guess I am trying to say I have some understanding of what you are going through. I dont see you as lazy, I see you as 'just Emma'.

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    1. I think locking our mean girls in a room togeather sounds like a perfect solution! It is important you are there to care for your husband. He is so very lucky to have you with him.

      Not bringing in an income can be challenging cant it? Especially when your used to it. Xx

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  2. Hi Emma, having had a few heart flutters myself, I know how you are feeling. The heart is an organ that really does make us feel certain things (emotionally) and when it is not working right, it can make you sad, uncertain, anxious and afraid. People can get by with crook livers, kidneys, bowels and bladders but if the heart is out of kilter, then so are you. I think it is the not knowing what's going on in there?...is it going to keep beating?...will I have a heart attack?...what if I do?...how will the family and I cope?...Help! Panic!
    I had Super Ventricular Tachycardia which thankfully, I had fixed by radio frequency ablation, last October. The cardiologist says I'm cured so life goes on for me but it is always in the back of my mind. But for you, I understand, with endocarditis...that it is more complicated.
    I do hope everything improves for you in time, until then, take care of you and maybe accept that you need to slow down. Things will fall into place.
    Cheers - Joolz xx

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    1. I’m pleased to hear you are on top of your heart problems. Yes, it is a very confronting thing to struggle with and i totally agree with you regarding the emotional aspect of it.

      I’m well on the mend now which is wonderful. Xx

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  3. Well, just Emma ..... your experiences and journey makes you a much more empathetic worthwhile person in society. You are in all points 'tried' like us yet without giving in.

    A great read today, thank you.

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  4. Just Emma...how lovely, and truly important. I so understand, and I appreciate you sharing with us. Yes, God is big enough to handle it, he has been dealing with my anger for a while; and He knows that I cannot do it with out Him despite said anger. Onward, dear one. Sending you love, and grace. Patricia

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    1. I hope your anger heals soon, sending lot of love and a gentle hug. Thank you for your kindness.

      Xx

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  5. Thanks for sharing Emma and putting your vulnerability out there. I'm currently reading Kristin Neff's book on self compassion, which ran through my head as I read your post.
    'Just Emma' is more than enough.
    Take care,
    Laura

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    1. Oh, sounds interesting. I shall have to look into it. Self compassion is so important and I think we as women often deeply struggle with. We are taught to look after others father then ourselves.

      Xx

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  6. Take it easy on yourself, you can only do what you can manage, on any given day.
    I think some pleasant knitting may be just the thing for you to be nurturing yourself and providing Winter woolies.

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    1. Mm, knitting. A skill I would so love to master! I get stuck as I don’t know how to fix my mistakes! Perhaps this winter I will master it.

      Xx

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  7. Hi Emma and family. Take it slow and easy, you have worn yourself out. It took me until I reached my mid 60’s to learn that lesson. On another topic, have you and Grant ever considered south Gippsland in Victoria. It is a very fertile and lovely farming area. Just a thought. Take care my dear.
    Green Gran

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    1. South Gippsland is beautiful and certainly on our search area. So far we have not found anything suitable in our budget but we only need ONE place to pop up.

      Xx

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  8. In the end, only love counts. Your self-worth will be measured in how much you love your family and you obviously do! Even in your younger life, you would have a lot of empathy with the elderly, because what you are going through from your heart problems, is somewhat similar to what the elderly go through. We get a new body in heaven so these problems are temporary while here on earth. Andrea

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    1. I have spent many years working with the elderly through various kinds of nursing jobs. I have often felt that in our western culture we do a poor job of honouring our older generation and all they have done and chieved in their lives. Thank you for you lovely comments. You are very right. Only love and kindness matter.

      Xx

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  9. Sometimes it is the hardest thing, isn't it, to slow one's self right down when you are really ill or when something complex besets us. What we tell ourselves or what we worry others might think can get in the way of that process. I think just "being Emma" is the best way forward to getting better, because you know how you feel on any given day and what works best at those times when you are really challenged. "Just Emma" sounds like she knows what she needs! Meg:)

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    1. Thanks Meg, If only it were so easy to switch off to others. But slow and steady she goes. Xx

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  10. I've had a chronic illness for nearly 30 years. You can't see mine either, so I look like a regular person. Although I don't have the urgent physical limitations, you've had to nurture, in order to stay healthy - I know about the mental endurance it takes to live with infirmity. There's no longer that shield of invincibility. Days arrive where the expectations you set, are constantly put on hold. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

    Similar to your "Just Emma" revelation, mine was, "why can't I just make the expectation, for the day, being healthy?" All those other expectations could wait. I wasn't going to be legitimised by them, any more than taking my next breath. But I had to take the next breath. It's not until you're put in charge of your mortality, you realise simple achievements, are really the most relevant.

    I'm glad you felt able to share your experience of difficult choices. And eventually, make peace in that next breath. Well done, for finding your balance. :)

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    1. Thankyou for sharing, and your experience deeply reflects mine. Its so very important to know others are experiencing and processing similar things and that this reality is shared.

      xx

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  11. Oh Emma, people are so quick to rush in and give advice aren't they? When most of the time is what we want is to be heard, to have someone listen to us. I remember when I was facing a very serious health crises a co-worker lent me a book on taking apricot kernels as a self-treatment which she said would cure me. She was most offended when I returned the book to her unread. (Apricot kernels contain a substance which converts to cyanide in the body).

    It has been great catching up with you in your recent posts. I hope your health continues to improve. Take care and God bless.

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    1. Thankyou so much, and I have been slowly catching up with all my fave blogs though I seem to have lost track of some!

      Apricot kernels huh? Well if the serious illness didn't knock you off the perch, then the apricor kernels might have! Are you sure she wasn't after your job??

      I'm glad you knew not to take them, just because something is "natural" doesn't mean it is safe hey?

      xx

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