Ever have a day where there is plenty to do but you just can’t get started? Everything you think you should be doing suddenly seems too much, or too hard or too much trouble or you just can’t pull yourself together. These are the days I have learned to say to myself to just ‘ rest in the day.’
That means that probably nothing of any consequence will get done–and does it really have to get done right then? If you are as stone-stubborn as I am, you will probably beat yourself up to ‘get going, already!’ But I’ve learned (painfully) that there are just days that are meant to be lived without doing much of anything. I prefer to think of those days as “recharge” days.
This concept never fully took root until I helped care for my dying mom along with my dad. She was in Hospice care, and the nurses became friends and family to us; they loved my mother, cared for Dad and me, and helped us beyond measure. However, Hospice care does not mean that an experienced nurse will be there 24/7. Dad and I found ourselves doing things for which we felt woefully inadequate.
Thanks to the kindness and love of my dear best friend (and sister-in-law–how lucky am I?), I found help on caretaker web sites to which she directed me. I learned that I was not alone in my fear and frustration, and that so many people were dealing with these same issues. It made my perspective on everything wider, better, and I learned that my feelings are very common. I also learned that you absolutely MUST take time for yourself. You may not always get all the time you need or want, but trust me–any time to yourself will help.
If I needed more proof that I was in fact suffering from “caretaker-itis,” I realized that my own body was sending me more and more urgent messages. In metaphysical terms, our right side is our “giving” side, and our left is our “receiving” side. I happened to look down at my fingernails on my right hand during a particularly hard day. All the cuticles on my right hand were overgrown, ragged, and discolored. My right shoulder gave me constant pain, as did my right knee.
My left hand was fine; cuticles neat and clean. My left shoulder, which had suffered a major rotator cuff tear years ago, wasn’t hurting, and neither was my left knee. Coincidence? Not at all.
We absolutely can’t pour water out of an empty pitcher, nor can we do more than we are able to do. Even if we take five minutes to just close our eyes, relax and think of a beautiful memory, or just stick our heads out of the door and breathe some fresh air–it helps. If we don’t give ourselves the love and care we would lavish on a loved one, we can’t be as effective as we want to be. We must remember that WE matter as well.
Let’s all give ourselves permission to rest in the day. We deserve it.