I spent over 30 years being Everything to Everybody – Except ME. Now it is my turn! This does not mean that I will not still be there to assist others, I will be. However, I need to take care of myself first, finally. I had been meaning to for years. You know how it goes, and then one thing or person after another needs you or something and before you know it months and years go by. I got to the point where the mind was willing, but the body was no longer cooperating. I knew that something had to change, but what would the change be, that was the question.
My profession is one of taking care of people of giving of oneself. Some might argue that it consists of pain and torture as the PT suggestsJ It may be a little bit of both. It is rehabilitation, which means doing what it takes to be able to get a person functioning to the best of their abilities after an injury or illness. When I first started working I would worry about patients over the weekend if they were inpatients and really involved. I had to learn to let go so that I could have a break and come back refreshed on Monday morning. I never did lose that level of concern for my patients though.
I had the same level of investment with all of the students that I taught over the years as well. I challenged them to think and work outside their comfort zones. For many that meant that they were not completely happy in the moment, but they understood once the course was complete. Some did not. However, I have had many former students contact me months or even years later to tell me that they now understand why we did what we did in the class and that it has helped them in their work and life going forward. Those comments mean more to me than anything. The fact that these people understood what we were doing and connected the dots and ultimately had the grace to make the effort to contact me and thank me speaks volumes to their character as human beings. It does not matter to me when or how one of my students comes to understand something, but rather the fact that it happened at all. These are the moments that make all those late nights and early mornings on the computer and with the books worthwhile!
Some of my students, and others, who have met my children have asked, “How have you raised three such great children?” I have heard this not once, but repeatedly over the years. One, I am blessed. Two, I give unconditionally. Three, we all work hard, we have goals, we respect each other, and I don’t put up with any crap. How’s that for putting it succinctly? I am friends with my children, but before that I am their parent. I think that too many people these days try to be only friends with their children and it does not work that way. You have to be their parent. Each child is looking for that and they need it first and foremost.
I offer the same respect and friendship to those that I work with; however, not all reciprocate. If you disrespect me, tell non-truths, or do other things that go against the grain as noted above, it becomes more and more difficult for me to give unconditionally….
I found myself in a position where my health was not optimal. I tried to work things so that I could have flexibility in order to continue on, but this did not come to be. I enjoy working with patients or clients very much and find it difficult not to give 100%+, therefore when I was working, I was working. Normally, you would want to take breaks when you work. That is a good thing to do both physically and mentally. However, I had such a difficult time getting myself going in the morning that if I stopped during the day for a break, I might not have been able to continue on. That meant that I had to keep working until the end of the day at which point I literally collapsed. I would sit down at my computer and proceed to fall asleep on the keyboard. Not just a light sleep, but the deepest sleep you can imagine. I was absolutely exhausted. And I was not even done with my work for the day. I still had hours of computer work to go. And then I got little sleep and had to wake up and do it all over again with a body that felt less than optimal.
We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others.
I am finally getting a chance to take care of me. My youngest is through 4 years of college, so I feel that my job is done. I have worked every possible physical therapy job and then some in order to be with my children and still bring in an income to adequately support three children through college and some of grad school. I also facilitated their ability to receive scholarships in high school, college, and graduate school to make it possible for us to live and eatJ For most of their high school and college years I was working 3-4 jobs with teaching, editing, and my main PT work. I would be on the computer every time I had a free moment and then some. In one sense I truly hated it because it made me look like I was anti-social, but I was really just trying to make ends meet.
We may still need to make ends meet, but if I do not have my health, then it is for naught. So, it’s time to take some deep breaths, if I can – working on that. Get myself feeling better – my best friends seem to be all my doctors these days. My goal is to have a few weeks without any MD appointments. And get out in the fresh air to do some walking – it’s going to be one step at a time to get back on track. It has been a long 30 years and an even longer winter surviving the worst snow on record. So, it’s time to get some sunshine! I want to be Everything to ME before I can be The Best Something to Others. And if I do that then you will be getting The Best Something of Everything & it will work out for Everyone 🙂 .
Don’t shortchange yourself while thinking of others.
You cannot water the flowers if the pot is not full.
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!
Enjoy your weekend and the start of your summer!!
Dr. Mary Ann