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My Check Engine Light

self-care Dec 16, 2020

This past week was a rough one for me. 

I can tell when I've completely drained myself emotionally because I always get sick. I can sometimes feel my sickness coming on slowly and if I'm not careful to stop and get the rest I need, my body just shuts down and I happen to get whatever is going around.

I found myself in a very difficult situation that was incredibly heart wrenching. During a weekly coaching call with one of my favorite clients, this client (we'll call her Susan) revealed some heartbreaking experiences that happened in her home a few years ago. I anxiously listened very carefully as she revealed that several years ago she found out there had been some abuse in her home involving her young kids that had never been brought to the surface and dealt with.

For five long years Susan had been hiding and covering up this terrible secret. For five long years she had claimed the burden for herself of not only raising a large family of amazing children, but trying to council her kids through the extremely complicated and difficult ramifications of this abuse. She was afraid to involve anyone else or even tell anyone else so she just held it all inside and hoped that she would be enough to help her children through their emotions.

Susan carried this burden alone along with tremendous guilt, shame, embarrassment, and fear. She hadn't told a soul until she opened up her heart and told me. My heart broke as I listened to her story. I could almost see her shoulders bent and disfigured from the weight of the world she had chosen to take on.

I wanted to reach through the screen and just hug her. Even though I reassured her that the abuse wasn't her fault the pain of her experiences prevented her from being able to hear me. 

My heart ached terribly for her. However, her revelation also put me in a very difficult situation.

I have always taken the stand that I have a moral obligation to report abuse at the same standard as any teacher, religious leader, or health provider. 

Susan, a good friend and long time client, had just told me that her kids had been abused and no one ever said anything about it. Her kids needed help, she needed help, and their abuser needed help.

I knew what I needed to do and it broke my heart to do it. 

I won't go into the details of the events that followed besides saying that by my making that decision I lost a good friend. What I can tell you is that more than one night that week I went to bed with swollen puffy eyes and woke up with big bags under red eyes the next morning. Within days I started feeling sick. I was emotionally exhausted and physically spent.

I knew I had done the right thing. But it didn't make it any easier.

When I am struggling I tend to push myself harder. If I work more, busy myself with tasks more, and take more on. I start to think I can work through the frustration and avoid pain and difficult situations. 

Instead I work myself into sickness.

Much of Friday and then all of Saturday and Sunday I stayed in bed. To my kids delight, my Covid test I took on Friday came back negative by Monday morning.

It's been several days and I still find myself drained from the trauma of last week. I have realized more than ever that in this month of holiday chaos that self-care is going to be essential for me.

If I am not the #1 priority on my list, I will not be able to take care of my loved ones. I have to make my own needs the most important. If I don't, the joy of the season will pass me by and I'll entirely miss it.

I also know that I am not alone. 2020 has been reported to be a very difficult year for friends everywhere.

We all could use a little bit of self-care and pampering as we say goodbye to a year we will always remember.

It doesn't take a traumatic event for any of us to run ourselves empty. We can slowly drain our resources until there is nothing left. Our bodies aren't meant to continue functioning on empty. Something will shut down or break. Your body will find a way to call out for help. Ignoring the "check engine" signs don't make them go away.

Take a moment today, tomorrow, and the rest of the month, to do something kind for yourself. Find a way to make yourself THE priority. I know it's hard to do. Decide to do it before your body decides to do it for you.

Below is a calendar of easy, simple, and practical self-care tips for you. Follow me on Facebook here or Instagram here to get more details and ideas that come with each day. If you miss a day - don't worry! Anything you do will be better than nothing.

Taking care of yourself will help you be the thriving and resilient humans you are capable of becoming! 



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