25 Feb Shifting My Script
Without looking beyond the title, I recently enrolled in a webinar on self-care. At the time, I assumed it focused on helping my daughter become more independent with her self-care, which was not the case. The discussion was for the self-care of caregivers. Honestly, my attention to this topic is non-existent. Although I have no problems advocating for my daughter, I am at a loss at advocating for my own needs.
Most of the self-care topics were what I expected. However, I was unprepared when the focus changed to examining our inner voice and what we tell ourselves. I began to explore the perceptions that I have about being my daughter’s caregiver. “What do I believe, why do I believe it, and is it true?” Again, I find myself tangled in a story of my own making that is neither accurate nor helpful. I realize that through harmful self-talk, I am brutally hurting my mental and physical health. I cannot imagine saying these negative comments to any other person, so why am I allowing that voice to be so cruel and demeaning to me?
After reflecting, I realize that I do not know how to ask for help when caring for my daughter. Because I stay home while my husband works, I believe that I should have to take care of everything relating to her care and the household. Some days are so overwhelming that I am paralyzed from doing anything beyond getting her to school and possibly unloading the dishwasher. Although my daughter is at school for 7 hours, it is not a true break. The anxiety and worry never stops. If she is having a few bad days in a row, I find it hard to function. I worry that she may start regressing, that her medication needs to be adjusted, that I allowed her to eat too much sugar, or that she didn’t get enough rest, and the concerns grow out of control. The inner voice bellows that if I were a better mother, I could have prevented these problems or at least fixed them quickly. As I write this, I am aware of how ridiculous that sounds, but it doesn’t stop the voice from repeating it again and again.
Because I believe that it is solely my responsibility to take care of my daughter, I rarely schedule or attend events in the evenings or on weekends. Even though her dad is home during these times, I am reluctant to ask him to help. Again, the inner voice tells me that I don’t have the right to do so. I am the stay-at-home parent. Years of listening to these thoughts have made them easily believed and accepted as true.
Had I not participated in the self-care webinar, I wouldn’t have stopped to examine my self-talk and the detrimental effects it is having on my well-being. I asked myself why the pressure seems to be more now than when she was younger. I discovered that for me, the worries are compounded daily; I never release them nor get a break from them. Some days it feels as though I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. It is easy to say that I need to advocate for my needs and to be kinder and more compassionate with myself. But years of unconstructive conditioning is not easy to overcome. I need to rewrite the narrative that is on a continuous loop in my thoughts. The negative comments must be replaced with supportive and loving affirmations. I am only now starting to be mindful of this need to change. I have been told that being aware of the problem is the first step.
Rewriting my script won’t happen overnight, but at least it has a healthier, new beginning.