One day last week, I ran out of patience. Of course, I didn't know I was out of patience until it was too late. And it was such a shame, too - because the girls and I had enjoyed such a wonderful morning out on the town, full of shopping, lunch, and fun errands. We made stops at five different stores, and while the 3-hour venture was a tall order with a 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 year old in tow, I enjoyed every minute of it. Truly - it was a great girls' day out - and I would have done it all over again the next day.
Until nap time. It wasn't until the nap time routines began that I realized I'd run out of gas - using my last ounce of patience getting two giggling, wiggling girls from store #5 to the car and home. It wasn't that I was too tired - I was just too spent.
Despite the fact that we'd arrived home in plenty of time to make our 2pm nap time, I just couldn't tolerate their run-of-the-mill pre-nap shenanigans, as they slowly, reluctantly made their ways to their rooms. I got the girls in bed, barely, with more frustration, raised voices, and the like than preferred. I immediately got myself in bed - and then slept away my impatience.
I just wish a little alarm had gone off around 12:30pm that said, "You're having fun now, but that will end, abruptly. Skip store #5 and go home. NOW." But alas, my imaginary patience meter wasn't running that day - nor was my self-awareness meter, apparently.
I find that I have to fine-tune my self-awareness meter rather often, when it comes to lupus. It was particularly necessary when I was just getting used to setting boundaries and learning my limitations several years into my life with lupus. I was always pushing the limits of what my body could handle...simply because I was used to doing more, and in less time! I really had to reassess my driven, accomplished-focused attitude, and call it what it was - a "pushaholic" mentality. I just wanted to maximize my efforts, not waste time, be efficient, multi-task, blah, blah, blah. You know how it goes - push, push, push, until you're out of gas. Trouble is that with a chronic illness- you can't afford to push your body to the limit, much less beyond. You don't recover as quickly. In fact, you can actually put yourself in jeopardy by making yourself sick, making it twice as hard to get back on track.
And the real trouble with pushaholics is that most of the time, we don't know we're pushing too hard until it's too late. We go about things the way we naturally would - with all the determination and resolve we can muster - and then by the time we've pushed beyond our limits, and made ourselves sick, it's too late. We've lost our edge, and now it's back to square one.
But I can promise you - a pushaholic can be rehabilitated, slowly, and with great effort. Not as slowly as my girls made their way to their naps last week, but by allowing enough time to reset those expectations we set for ourselves and tune in to how our body is feeling. In doing so, that alarm will automatically be set to go off BEFORE we overdo it.
In the example above, I was simply having too much - but now I'll know for the next time: the best way to ensure that there IS a next time, is to cut our time short. Just by a hair. Leave the girls wanting more, and it will pave the way for the next shopping extravaganza...where there is sure to be just as much giggling...assuming, of course, the Gorman girls are involved.