How Do I Go On ?

The need for self-care

When you don’t know what to do, what do you do? Who do you talk to about your problems or struggles? If you are the one person everyone is talking to, where do you go? What happens when you are at the end of your rope? Do you have a place to go? Do you know how to get help? If you can’t find someone, to be honest with what do you do with all those feelings and thoughts you gather after working or helping other people?

“Please, Greg, don’t be late?!
I need to make this appointment”. Monique whispers as she leaves for her doctor’s office. She needed this appointment to help with diagnosing her son’s disability. Greg never wanted a diagnosis, but it was getting to the place they could not handle the issues along, and Robert was not able to move forward successfully in school.

Fear of leaving her children with her husband -their father and anxiety over missing this appointment had her frozen. Panic attacks never stopped her in the past, but she knew the last time she left her children what happened. No, Greg was not abusive, but he was not pleasant. He was borderline abusive. I guess you would call it. He was a drug addict, and when he got wasted, he would do crazy things. Not sexual or aggressive, just stupid. Taking the kids in the car for joy rides and getting into fistfights at stop signs, going to his shed in the back and locking himself in while the kids were alone in the house, and yelling at them for being kids (3,5,7) so he would put them to bed without supper. All things that kept Monique on edge when she left. She also never knew if Greg would take off with the kids- joy rides could end up across the state line. What if she never saw them again. All this kept her in constant fear and nauseated. She was working again, which was a big help because she made enough for the house payment and food.

She did have to fight Greg to keep that money, last week he woke her up with his finger’s around her neck whispering “where is the money- I will kill you if you don’t tell me.” He finally gave up and threw her back on the bed and left for the night. She needed this appointment for her child. Something was wrong, and she had to figure it out. She was tired but could not let anyone in the house help you. What if they saw somethings she could not explain, and they took her kids? She would die without her kids—anxiety in her looks like anorexia.

Self-care is so important to caregivers. You are a caregiver if you take care of anyone who needs your help to survive. Special needs children, adults, animals are taxing on a person. They demand attention 24-7, which tends to leave little time for the caregiver. Even finding someone to give you a needed break is a chore. Allowing yourself time to breathe, relax, and have feelings of exhaustion may lead to guilt, fear, and shame.

Working past the feelings which hold you down is a huge step toward allowing you to have time for yourself. If the caregiver cannot take care of themselves, they have nothing to give to the people who depend on them. Understanding the needs of the caregiver is essential. You need to be able to separate your needs, wants, desires, and hopes from that of your family. Making goals for yourself can be hard and feel selfish; however, it can bring focus, hope, and a future that you never thought you could reach.

Making plans for her child, Monique was stuck between what she knew she had to do and what she wanted to do. Mixed emotions about her children, marriage, and self. She knew she had to move forward, but she had to move forward with her children’s safety and needs in mind. She needed time to rest and think. It was time for a short break- a few days in the mountains. The kids would camp and swim, and she could rest. Greg would be gone again because he took a job trucking, and it was over the road, gone for 7-10 days. She knew it meant no money and possibly move again. She would not be able to pay all the bills, but she needed this time alone. The decision made she was taking time off.

All of us need time alone, me time, time to think, and time to relax. When we do not take time, we get pushed into situations where we have to make decisions that require good sound thinking. If he has not had that ‘me time,’ we may not make the best decisions.

Jason was struggling in school; he was breaking down at home. Nita did not know what to do. She knew he should be reading and writing, but his numbers and letters seemed to be all over the place. Jason could spell the words when asked but could not write them down. The school was hard- a private school that did not have time for special needs children. George did not have time for his son, who had something wrong with him. That was not the idea George had in mind when he thought about his ‘boy.’ George blamed his wife Nita for doing something wrong, which made his son that way. Nita knew it was the lack of oxygen when Jason was born. Now Nita had to figure out what was going on and how to help her child succeed.
Nita wondered how to move forward and knew some time on her mountain was just what she needed to make the right decision.

It seemed like George was not going to accept what was happening with their son, so she was going to move forward. She just did not know what that looked like. While at work, the daycare visited the new exhibit at the museum, which included special needs- learning disability mini exhibits. She walked into the exhibit focused on dyslexia and knew her son. She could see what was happening to her little boy. She stood for what seemed hours listening to the person on the other end of the phone talk. She started trying to make her head understand how her son saw the world. She fell to the floor and cried. Answers finally came to her. She had a direction to go. She walked out of the exhibit stronger and determined to get her son tested, find him help, and do the work it took for her child.

Self-care and direction go hand in hand. It is not one or the other. Self-care gives you the strength to go on, move forward, and make the hard decisions needed to find a new path or stay on the same path. It gives us the ability to recharge.

Finding the answers to your child’s special needs, the answer to the illness, the school where they will learn, the help we need comes at a cost. All that work, drive, and struggle builds something new. We grow, learn, and thrive. To have that focus and move forward, a time of quiet is often needed. Taking the time to recharge, relax, and refresh can be vital to your wellbeing.

Emma came home after a long day at school. She realized she had expected her husband to cook for her kids and hoped they were in bed as it was late. She worked today, picked up the kids from school, brought them home, gave them a snack, and went back to school for her classes- she was working on getting her teaching degree. She mistakenly left early when her husband said he was around the corner. When she got home, she cried and hated herself for not waiting. His kids were in bed (10,7,6). Her husband was in the back-yard drinking. She went into the kids’ room and found them wrapped in a blanket crying. They were hungry and scared. Dad did come home but was drunk. He was yelling and ranting. He finally went outside and told them to do go to bed. Emma fixed her kids some supper and promised them she would not go back to school.

She kept that promise for a long time and did not finish her degree. She ended, leaving her husband to find herself confused and still no clarity on a path for herself. She struggled with the idea of more bills and a minimum wage job. She still needed to understand self-care, taking care of herself, so she had enough to take care of her kids. Learning what she wanted so she would not make the same mistake in an abusive relationship.
Now, do all relationships end in abuse- no, of course not. However, not taking care of ourselves and not know what we want can put us in situations that cause stress, emotional frustration, and a lack of patients.

All these factors can cause people to make a horrible decision and worse actions. Knowing our self, our hopes and dreams, our limitations help us to grow and succeed with our goals. One way to do this is to develop a self-care regiment.

With little children, it can be difficult, but with teens can be downright scary! Understanding the importance of self-care is the first step to success.

Questions for need
When do you need to getaway?
Would a few hours away benefit you?
What can you do to be sure you get ‘me time.’

Questions for self-care
What would self-care look like to you?
Can you have someone watch the kids?
Where would you go?
What would make you feel refreshed?
What would bring peace?

Questions for goals
What are your short term goals
Long term goals?
Daily goals?
Family goals?
Individual goals?

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