Jonny and I celebrated our 19th anniversary this week by leaving our kids for the day and visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Leaving our kids has never been easy for us, though we are getting better and better at making time for ourselves. Because after all, one day our children will leave us, and we’d like for there to still be an us when that day comes. I thought I would write more about our day, and the things we talked about, the reminiscing that comes when you’ve spent nearly half your life with someone, but I think that it’s time that I share part two of my healing story.
Making more room for time away with Jonny is part of the bigger picture that I’ve been working on this year: making healthy choices, both for myself and in my relationships. I’ve also been focusing on setting boundaries. I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with the concept of boundaries, and I have come to recognize that is because I am not good at setting them. A friend recommended that I read this book, so I bought it. Reading just the first couple of chapters was more than a little bit life changing for me. (I really ought to read the rest of the book.)
When I wrote about the ways I have been working to heal since my Hoshimoto’s diagnosis (most of them diet related), I mentioned that I had made some other changes as well that I believe are part of the healing process. The book on boundaries helped me to recognize that I oftentimes say “Yes,” when I really ought to be saying, “No.” This tendency effects all areas of my life. I have taken on commitments in the past couple of years that I really shouldn’t have. Over the years I have turned down opportunities that I knew were beyond my capabilities, but have remained open to writing for a couple of outside publications and sometimes contributing photography. A few months ago, I made the difficult decision to stop. And while it was hard to make that choice, it was also a huge relief. Those outside commitments inevitably always cause me stress, and I no longer view them as lost opportunities when I turn them down. This is my season to focus on my family and my health. Eliminating all unnecessary sources of stress is a big part of doing that well.
I have also been working on creating healthier personal habits. Gone are my late night knitting nights (mostly). Yes, knitting is therapeutic, but so is sleep. I’ve found more ways to work on my knitting during the day, and I’ve also accepted that I simply can’t knit as much as I’d like to. That’s life, right? You can’t always do what you want and if you try to squeeze too much in, you might eventually end up sick and tired. At which point the negative consequences of knitting or crafting (or blogging seven days a week) start to outweigh the benefits. I’m such a high energy go, go, go person (when I’m healthy) that it doesn’t come naturally to me to rest. Sleeping always felt like such a boring choice when there are so many fun things to be doing once the kids are in bed. I look at it differently now, and truly value my sleep. Longterm lack of it is not a good thing. It’s enough to be getting up with children in the night year after year. There’s really no reason to push myself even more, trying to squeeze in another project or one more row. I’m even picky about what I read these days. Absolutely no page turners allowed. I want to be able to get in bed, read a few pages, and put my book down. I’m still reading through the Anne of Green Gables series, and am finding them perfect. Essays on nature and devotional books work as well.
Last week I visited my doctor to review my most recent bloodwork. Based on the way I’ve been feeling for the past month, I suspected that my numbers wouldn’t be good, and I was right. I’m not sure where I got off track, and how much can be blamed on what I was eating or how stressful the month was (it was a real killer). I’m not sure how much control I have over this illness, I’m still figuring it all out, putting together my own puzzle. I’m working now on acceptance, and continuing to make the healthiest choices I can. I joked with my mother-in-law, who is visiting, that I’ve been self medicating with plants. I’ve been doing that since I was a kid. This week I planted a buttonbush, a camellia, a couple of hellebores, and so much more. Jonny just laughed when I came home with a redbud tree today. At least I’m not bringing home any more animals, right? That’s because I have such healthy boundaries. Ha!
(Edited to add: The changes I have made in an effort to move towards better health are in addition to taking prescription thyroid medication.)