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Alone At Last!

Posted Mar 18 2014 4:48pm
As I explained here recently, I had a mini mental breakdown last week. No big deal - just one of the occasional downs that go along with the ups in this rollercoaster life of chronic illness. I was feeling overwhelmed (what's new?), stressed, and frustrated, and I over-reacted to a well-meaning family member. I broke down in sobs for a few minutes, then wiped my tears away and got back to the business of life: taking care of myself and my family.

At the same time, since the beginning of the year, I have been trying to make some improvements in my life in terms of time management and organization. Over the past year, I realized that I'd let various obligations and responsibilities take over my time. Much of that has to do with helping other people: those newly diagnosed, those who've been sick for decades and have never had any treatment, and especially, parents of kids who are struggling with chronic illness, like my own. All of this is very, very important to me, but the e-mails, group interactions, blogs, etc. were easily expanding to take up all of my available time. My writing - even here on my chronic illness blog! - has definitely suffered, as has my peace of mind.

So, I had a lightbulb moment last week and decided that I needed to get away for a quiet respite...SOON. A quick look at the cluttered calendar showed that I couldn't just pick up and go - soccer and school commitments, doctor's appointments, deadlines, etc. stood in the way last week. But this week looked relatively open in the middle, so before I could think of excuses, I talked to my husband (who was supportive, as always - he doesn't like to see me fall apart either!) and asked a good friend (who also has medical problems and a sick child so she gets it) if I could borrow her family's condo at the beach for a couple of days. This wonderful friend texted me the door code immediately and said, "Go and enjoy it!"

So, a little preparation, rescheduling, and packing and a week later, and here I am! I arrived at noon today, picked up a giant Thai Chicken Salad from Panera, and settled into the very quiet condo by myself. It's not very nice beach weather (we got 4-6 inches of snow yesterday and it is cold and overcast today), but I'm not really here for the beach anyway. I am hoping to recharge and recuperate...and also get some writing done, without that lengthy to-do list in front of me.

Leaving for a mini getaway like this is always an amazing feeling. I finally got everything packed this morning (I don't travel light, as I'm sure you can understand!) and settled into the car (the nice, newer car with cruise control and a CD player - oooh!). Of course, the moment I pushed the button to put down the garage door, my college son texted me that he thought his bronchitis was back and his phone battery died. I almost laughed out loud at the timing, but instead I texted back where his antbiotics were (after running back into the house to find them), what time he could meet up with his dad at the house, and where to look for the new shipment of probiotics due in today. Then I gave myself a little pep talk that he'd be fine without me, and I left.

Driving away from all of my obligations and responsibilities is so freeing! I used to experience the same thing when I'd travel for business, that feeling of freedom and of only being responsible for myself. Truly amazing. I enjoyed listening to my audio book during the almost-2 hour drive down here, though I had to keep rewinding because my mind would wander to those waiting to-dos and my family's needs.

The funny thing is that once I finally arrived, I felt kind of lonely! I know, you are probably thinking I am nuts, but my normal daily life with chronic illness is pretty isolated, and I am naturally a very social person. I'm sure you can relate to this - I use up all of my limited energy taking care of my family and myself, and there is rarely enough left for social interactions. It had only been a few hours, and I was already missing my husband (hi, honey!) who is often the only adult I see during a typical day (not counting my best friends at the pharmacy).

So, I am adjusting to the quiet and solitude, and it is growing on me. I was pretty wiped out after packing, driving, and carrying all my stuff up to the second-floor condo, so after lunch, I took my usual afternoon nap. I woke up feeling achy and worn out, dragged myself out of bed, and went to the bathroom. Then I thought, "Wait a minute. I can do anything I want to do - there's nothing I have to do." With that revelation, I grabbed a cup of hot herbal tea, a new book, and crawled back under the cozy down comforter and nestled back into the fluffy pillows. Getting back into bed in the afternoon - what a concept!

I am planning to rest more tonight and hopefully feel well enough to tackle some long-neglected writing projects tomorrow - and maybe even take a short walk on the beach.

I am very grateful to both my friend and my husband for allowing me to have this mini getaway/writing retreat.

And, hey, if you have any suggestions for girly movies that my husband would hate, let me know! I may just relax and watch a movie on amazon tonight.

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