For Me

Here is a blog where I will share where I failed; big time! at least in the eyes of some people in my circle who were free with their advice. They explained to me that I needed to practice what they called “self-care”. Since my husband was in the hospital or was waiting for his spot in the hospital, or coming out of the hospital, I was told that I needed to take time out to care for myself. One person even suggested that working was an unreasonable thing for me to do.

Though there is something to the idea of taking care of yourself, and it is an element to help foster resilience, the timing of these well-meaning people did not help me deal with a really full plate. They were adding to it.

It is not helpful to be criticized no matter how well-intentioned the advice was given, especially when death or brain damage is hanging over the spouse and there are children to care for.

I could not speak for others who go through difficult personal times because I would not assume to know their reality,even if I have been through a few of my own. In the end there are no miracle solutions.

I could only share what I did and why, in hopes to join those who may think like me. I also hope to offer a possible different point of view in case it helps someone else see the possibility that ended up helping me.

MY FOCUS: As a mom, I got to focus on my mom role; which means supporting the children. I had two young people who needed to know they would have their parents in their corner. Part of taking care of myself was my need of knowing that the children were cared for. I needed to do my best in meeting their needs (not their wants) now so as not to have to try to fix them later.

I know this is contrary to the accepted wisdom. As they explain on the plane,  in case of an emergency the parent is to take the oxygen first before putting the mask on the child. Wise and understandable, but I was not on a plane and for my  kids I was comfortable holding my breath.

WORK: I was also told by loved ones that should take a leave of absence because J-M was not well. A few things come to mind.

  • The first is that my husband was fully functioning adult who just happened to suffer from potentially deadly seizures.  If he seized strongly enough, he was in the hospital and should have been safe there. If he did not seize, he would go to work and someone there could phone the ambulance if he would happen to seize, so he was safe.
  • The second is that this situation lasted approximately 6 years.
  • The third is we are not independently wealthy, and not having at least one steady salary for that long was not feasible.
  • The fourth is my work also gave me insurance which helped with the expense of J-M’s medication which would be considered substantial for many middle-class families
  • The fifth and last is our situation would not have been improved if we were living in the streets or a shelter for having lost our home.

I never understood how it would be good for me to take the leaves of absence people were telling me to. I still don’t understand how augmenting our family’s already stretched to the limit finances since J-M  could not work when hospitalised would help us or make me feel better. I’ll be honest. It was nice to be able to feed the kids and know the power would not be turned off, even if it meant me balancing family, work and medical situations.

Add to that, working gave me something to focus on. In so doing, my mind could wander from the medical situation. Being a junior high school teacher, I always had some kind work to focus on or some crisis to deal with. All in all a nice break from my spouse’s possible brain damage or death.

My job also gave me a sense of control and even a sense of worth. This is not mundane when your world is collapsing.

Even the classes I was taking at Université de Montréal, though sometimes heavy to balance, helped me look at my husband’s situation from different angles. To be able to see it that way made finding solutions or strategies to deal with our new reality easier which made us more resilient to our situation.

So I guess working and going to school  was good for me after all. It does not matter that it is not what people wanted me to do because in this particular case I was the one that counted.

Since this blog and the last touched on certain things that helped with our resiliency, the next one will explore the different aspects of RESILIENCY.  I hope it will be a springboard for some to build the aspects of your life that foster resiliency, especially before needing it.

I would love to hear from you about your story or your view on resiliency.

Feel free to leave a comment or a question you wish for me to explore.

You are welcome to share the entry or the blog with others in hopes that someone who is quietly going through their own adventure will see it and may be supported.

Till next week!





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