I replied to his solution with, ‘but I don’t have a choice’.
I’ll preface what happened with – I am working hard. My old neurological symptoms are active again, and I have some new ones. Despite continuing rehabilitation, muscle wasting on my left shoulder blade has triggered a cascade of problems. So for most of this year the physio, chiropractor, osteopath and my GP have been fighting with me, to keep my shoulders moving and pain free. It was a relief to have my routine appointment with my neurologist for his expert opinion.
After responding to his ‘what’s been happening’ question with the edited highlights of my year thus far: moving parents from interstate, having them live with me, then moving them out to new house a 1 ½ hour drive from me, and the usual trials and tribulations of being a single parent to young adult children, working multiple part-time jobs plus my business/ministry/writing. My doctor’s conclusion was that it was not to do with my body, but with my lifestyle. ‘You work too hard.’
He said, ‘Stop the unpaid hours in your business/ministry/writing.’ I relied, ‘I can’t. I tried that after my last attack put me in hospital. I ended up with reactive depression as I lost enjoyment in life and all hope for the future. I used all my available energy for work and did nothing that was pleasurable for me. I didn’t have the energy to be social, so I was a recluse on the couch when I wasn’t at work.’
He said, ‘Stop work then.’ I said, ‘I can’t. I need the money.’
He said, ‘Have more holidays.’ I said, ‘I can’t. I don’t have the money. I’ve just had my first holiday in 30 years thanks to a birthday present.’
Woe is me
Driving home I cried for my lack of choices. I played the ‘if’ game. If I was married then maybe I wouldn’t have to work to bring in the income to support the family. If I was married then maybe I would have holidays every year, not every decade. If I was married maybe I wouldn’t have burnt myself out so much as a single parent who always did too much and then I wouldn’t be sick. So the more ‘ifs’ I thought about the more tears I cried. I felt more sorry for myself and I blamed my circumstances as a single parent for my lack of choice.
Single parenting does limit choices. The lack of income is a big reason for this. For some the choice becomes food or petrol, or whose medication to buy. I don’t have a solution for this except get budgeting help if you need (see resources below).
I’m sorry this has been a different blog, all about me really! But writing this I realise I have choices. Yes, I have a massive number of deadlines now – some self-imposed, but many from others. I’ve also reflected that living a life of purpose is important to my health, so I need to make choices to ensure the longevity of this.
There are some voluntary roles I do that long-term I can plan to retire from. Right now, I can get help with them (that means putting pride aside and asking others to help me, and it means letting go of control). I can negotiate to delay some deadlines. There are three ‘I can’ statements in this short paragraph.
I worked out my priorities by writing the deadlines onto a calendar and used that to work backwards and see what has to be done right now, what can wait for day or two, or a week, and what can be put on hold.
I can practise boundaries. I can say no. But I need to say no to the right things. In the past I’ve said ‘no’ to good things like catching up with people, activities that bring me joy like 10 minutes sitting in the sun now we have spring in Adelaide, or cross stitching. I can say ‘yes’ to things that fill me.
I can ensure I maintain my healthy behaviours; drinking water, stretching, sleeping enough, relaxation, watching my thought life, keeping my mind and body healthy.
These may not change my workload, but it means I’m filled and giving out from a full tank rather than trying to give and do things when I’m empty and tired.
I can let others down and that is OK. My boundaries may mean I decide not to meet their deadlines. I will forgo my perfectionism and need to please others and be OK with it.
I have a lot of choices.
Putting legs on it
Is there an area of your life where you feel you have no choice?
Look at it from a different angle. Imagine you are the ‘doctor’ talking to ‘you’. What solutions can you come up with and take the time to consider which ones to action?
- Can someone else do it – your kids? Can you ask others to help?
- What choices do you have? They may mean having to let go of control, letting others down or not be perfect.
- How can you change your priorities or deadlines?
Restoring Balance special offer
Although I’m not well neurologically and I recognise the hard work I’m doing is a contributing factor, I’m not stressed (except for a few things) because I’m practicing health and self-care to offset this. I’m applying what I teach in Restoring Balance: How to avoid compassion fatigue and restore balance by caring for yourself whilst caring for others.
Click here for video about Restoring Balance.
It pays to read to the end of the post. If you live in Adelaide and would like to attend the Restoring Balance Women’s Retreat but money has limited your choice to attend, I am giving 2 single parents the option to attend for $100 AUS.
Click here for video of why you need to come to the retreat.
If you would like to complete the online version of the course and money has limited your choice to sign up, I will give access to the online course to 2 single parents for $50 USD.
Click here for information about the online course.
For both these subsidised offers please contact me on this email address – first 2 people for each option – firstname.lastname@example.org
Money Smart: Managing in a low income
CAP: CAP money course