Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Search For Serenity

I've learned many important lessons in my 64 years of living--two of them being: I couldn't be "all things to all people" and the absolute need for relaxation. I came face to face with this reality about eight years ago. I was the manager of a small shopping center, I had a large family, my mother had just passed away, my husband, Jim, had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, I was going through menopause, and I had recently been elected to our town's City Council. I thought I could do it all!! But things were going to change and change drastically.....

One Spring afternoon, I went out for a short walk. As I returned home my left ankle was hurting. The next morning my ankle was swollen. The second morning, my left knee was swollen. The third morning my wrist and fingers were swollen--I couldn't close my hands! The fourth morning my arms and shoulders wouldn't move freely. All this continued until I could only get out of bed for brief periods of time--mainly to go to the bathroom or sit with the family. Each day I was spending 18-20 hours in bed. The symptoms became so bad that I couldn't apply my make-up or brush my hair. I couldn't drive the car, I couldn't shop....it was growing worse and I imagined that I would eventually enter the City Council meetings in a wheel chair. All of this had happened, so suddenly, to a relatively healthy woman-- literally overnight.

My doctor ordered tests, which all came back negative. The final conclusion? STRESS. I had taken on too much. I had been too hard on myself--tried to be perfect--expected too much, and cared so deeply about others, that I was taking everyone's pain as my own; hadn't I always considered myself a "worrier" and a "fixer?" I was exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The physical "me" was rebelling. Enough was enough! My body would take no more and told me so, "You will slow down. You will rest! You will accept your limitations."

As I lay quietly in bed, through those uncertain days, I learned to be more caring toward myself and I made a commitment to live life slowly with joy, learn when to say "no" and find time everyday for rest. With medication, I began to get well and I have continued to honor myself as well as others.

My search for serenity had begun.......

Copyright 2008 By-Barbara J. Kirby Davis

5 comments:

Pat's Place said...

Interesting! I feel like I have taken on too much myself--right now--and my body is yelling at me to slow down. I am so much in charge of everything that I have a hard time letting things go and saying "No" to more and more as it piles on. Good that you shared your story with me, so I can learn from your experience before I start swelling up all over.

Barbara J. Kirby Davis said...

Pat-It is so important to take care of ourselves, as well as those we love. My illness was even worse than I wrote about here--it would have taken up too much space.
So please remember to rest and learn when to say "no".....

WF said...

All us women need to listen to our bodies more and maybe we would not have that consuming need to "be everything to everybody." I ended up in the hospital with the doctor telling me "You cannot be the perfect wife, Mother, employee...."
Hard lesson to learn.

Cheryl said...

Yes. We all need to listen to our bodies. I was sick all last spring: daily headaches and I was coming home and sleeping for 2 HOURS every afternoon! EGADS! I decided I couldn't live like that, so I cut out all meat and dairy and processed foods. I am now eating a raw diet and I feel WONDERFUL! I'm getting skinny, I have energy, and I haven't had a headache since I started this lifestyle change!

Barbara J. Kirby Davis said...

Cheryl- That's great advice!