I am really doing my best with what I have, most of the time. Still, there are exceptionally difficult months or weeks where a highly stressful situation can threaten to grab hold of all the progress I have made with my health in the last 6 months and throw it all out of the window.
Such a situation happened last weekend. It culminated after weeks of non-stop exposure to highly stressful scenarios. It’s not even about work. (To be frank, I’d very much rather focus on writing 10 pages per day of output than deal with something like this in my family.)
I have been taking it slow this week because I am trying not to relapse back into a state of ill health. One of the good things about acknowledging your health limitations is that you actually know when to stop and when to slow down. It reaches a point where you know your personal breakdown triggers and you know that you must make the difficult choice of not exposing yourself to these triggers as much as possible.
It takes years to master that skill of stepping out of unnecessarily stressful situations.
For anyone with a health condition, wielding that skill at opportune moments spells the difference between life and death, between stupor and productivity. And like many difficult experiences, there are lessons to be learned.
Lesson #1 in the face of a relapse threat: You may do a lot of things out of love for other people, but it must be NEVER be at the expense of your own wellness or health. Sometimes the people we love and care about do not really mean to harm us or hurt us, but they do so tremendously with their actions.
We must not be afraid to call them out, we must not be afraid to even cut them off and limit our interactions to them, if necessary. Eventually these actions (no matter how they often say that they did not mean to do it) can become habitual to them, and absorbing them further is suddenly a blow to your sanity. And when you lose your sanity, you lose everything.
In my life, I had to cut off a lot of people. They weren’t necessarily people I do not care for. In fact, I care about them very deeply. But I had to cut them out of my life because they are not helping me at all to become a better person.
Last weekend, my husband finally put his foot down and helped make that tough decision for me in the face of our recent setback. He first watched me as I managed the buildup week in and week out. Deep inside, I was also checking my inner pulse to see if I can still have the threshold to handle the unnecessary stressors from the people I love. Eventually, all my reserves of strength ran out.
My husband lovingly assisted me from a distance. Not a word of complaint, just pure support for which I am most grateful. But when I finally told him last weekend that I am slowly approaching a danger zone with my health, he stepped in by speaking out honestly and from the heart.
In truth, he was just as traumatized as I was with what happened. But we maintain the optimism that we will survive this. We both dealt with it together. As a team. Like equals. Like partners. No flinching. Pure adulting.
More than doing things for each other, we are now also making decisions and tough calls in our dealings with people to protect our baby, the tiny passenger in my tummy who can now hear our voices and can feel my feelings of distress or sadness. That’s a definite game changer for any woman.
Before, when I choose to take care of myself and my health, I am doing it mainly so I won’t harm other people. Now, when I make the decision to take care of myself first, I am not just doing it for myself. I am also doing it for that tiny person inside me that needs to have a better chance at life. This tiny person deserve the most stable and reliable set of parents this world can offer, and I am not going to let anyone or anything sabotage that dream I have for my child.
Lesson #2 in the face of a threatened relapse: It’s not really selfish if you want to pursue good health for yourself. In fact, you are doing the world a favor if you sharpen your body to be the best possible version of yourself. That sometimes, you have to stay in the bench or in the sidelines temporarily so that you can bounce back with your A game for the bigger battles of life.
It’s not always sound to face all battles. Because not all battles are worth fighting at all. These days, I am no longer afraid to speak up and say “I am sitting this one out because I need to recover.” I actually say it and then I decide to seriously sit it out even when I am itching to take action.
And finally, there is Lesson #3: By default, we always have to do our best to be in a position of supporting and helping other people become the best version of themselves to the maximum extent that we are able, no matter who they are and what they have done. Value relationships over resources, at any given time.
And mind you, that’s not exactly just about helping and personally getting involved in that person’s life.
Sometimes, this act of helping out means saying no, ignoring messages that do not contribute to your well-being, or even deciding to stay out of another person’s life for good if he or she won’t stop in his or her self-destructive behavior. For example, a person may be abusing your kindness and turning your chat window into a garbage can of feelings. Instead of dealing with his or her issues with other people, they just choose to dump all the stress on you and expect you to cuddle them and comfort them non-stop while they do nothing to improve their situation.
Here is one useful question: Will it do good to other people and that needy person if you absorb all that negativity? Always strictly promote only what helps the person and what keeps you sane.
Do not tolerate immature, entitled episodes from those you love. Do not enable their horrible habits that make their lives permanently take a turn for the worse. Provide to the extent you are able, but take no more part if that person habitually decides to self-destruct. It’s painful, but if that person decides to always harm himself or herself after your numerous attempts to help out, you need to stay out of it. You provide help. But you are not a perpetual rescue hotline for people who do not help themselves.
You can be charitable without becoming a masochist. You can be charitable without being heavily attached to the favors you dole out. You can be charitable, but strictly in a way that empowers and enables you and the other person to become the best versions of yourselves.
It’s really a phase of life where I have to make difficult choices. And today, I choose both CHARITY AND WELLNESS.