Well, I have to say, this whole recovery thing is not my style. I'm having a hard time not doing what I usually do, staying in jammies all day, and letting everyone else do stuff for me. But last week, Craig said something that rang in my ears this morning when I forgot that I was supposed to be recovering.
My dear sweet friend Allie, who passed away a year ago last September, kept an amazing blog while she was battling cancer. She retold a little story once about spoons that has become a bit of a legacy in our house and the ward and probably in her family, too.
The story goes something like this…Two friends were in a restaurant and one asked the other what it was like to be sick (I think the girl in the story had Lupus.) As the sick friend tried to explain about lack of energy, aches, pains and medications, she started to get a little frustrated. How can you really explain what sickness feels like to someone who is completely healthy? So she looked around for something to use as an example, and quickly scooped up a handful of spoons. She handed the spoon bouquet to her friend, and said, "Here. You now have Lupus." The sick friend explained that the difference between being sick and being healthy is that instead of having unlimited options, you have to make conscious choices about how you are going to spend your time. So, with the spoons representing the energy it takes to do the most basic, simple daily activities, the sick friend started to remove the spoons, one by one, from her friend's small handful. One spoon for getting dressed in the morning, an extra one if you actually shower and do your hair. One spoon for running errands. One for doing chores around the house. As the handful of spoons dwindled and the other friend realized she hadn't even made it to dinnertime yet in her typical day, she realized that she could not do everything she wanted and needed to do. If, at 7:00p, you are left with only one spoon, you have to make a choice to either play a game with your family or clean up the kitchen, to give your child a bath or help another one with homework. There is never a day when you can do everything you want and need to do. The sick friend showed with those spoons that she never took her energy for granted. She could never get up in the morning feeling good and just casually use up all of her spoons because she knew that by mid-day she would be left with no energy for her family or whatever surprises might come along.
Being in "recovery mode" now and temporarily having to consider my "spoons" throughout the day makes that story even more meaningful.
This morning I made a really crappy, inadvertent decision to blow all of those spoons in one giant, frustrated swoop, before 11:00 in the morning.
In my younger, more impetuous years (like pre-2010) I would do really reckless and stupid things when I got frustrated or angry. I have thrown my fair share of dishes out the door and driven off with many a trail of dust behind me several times. I'm not reckless like that anymore. Now, when I get really mad, do you know what I do?? I CLEAN. And I ORGANIZE. And I THROW STUFF AWAY. It's still pretty scary if you happen to be standing within my cleaning path when I go on one of those rampages, but at least it's not destructive anymore.
This morning, there was a little issue with one of my teenagers and her lack of cleanliness and organization. It is a continuing problem with this particular child and most days I am fairly compassionate and rational about it. We've moved her room to the farthest upstairs corner of the house so that her lifestyle doesn't effect the rest of us as much, and so that her mother doesn't see the way she lives and yell at her on a daily basis. While this daughter of mine is capable of so many amazing and wonderful things, hygiene and cleanliness are not yet on that list.
Yesterday she threw two enormous loads of laundry into the washing machine. Another sister moved them into the dryer for her later that day. And then when she came home, the first daughter grabbed both mega-piles and tossed them onto her not very clean floor in her bedroom. UGH…
This morning, when everyone was scrambling to get ready for church, this daughter was the only one not ready because she couldn't find any of her church clothes, specifically the black skirt she wanted to wear (which actually belongs to ME, but I haven't seen it since she borrowed it about 6 months ago.) Craig made the final call for all kids to get in the car. And this daughter yelled that she couldn't go because she didn't have anything to wear. And then she came barreling down the stairs to yell at me (her unsuspecting mother who was still in bed because I'm still supposed to be recovering and not going to church!) I started in a calm voice (really, it was) to suggest she look through the pile in her bedroom. But then she was so belligerent that I started yelling back. (Ugh…I hate when I give in and let myself do that!)
Since I am still trying to keep stair-climbing on the list of things I'm not doing during recovery, I asked Craig to go up and help her find something to wear to church. She had apparently found what she was looking for by the time he got up there, but was still mad so she yelled at Craig and slammed her bedroom door in his face.
Ugh…can you feel my blood starting to boil???
I held my tongue and got back into bed until they were all safely out the door and on their way to church, but I was getting more and more angry just thinking about all the unnecessary dust that had been kicked up by this one little child. I stewed for a minute and then got out of bed and stormed up the stairs! (I could hear a tiny little voice in my head saying to me "What do you think you're doing?" But up I went anyway.) It is scary and smelly and disgusting up there. I waded through piles of clean/dirty laundry, Sonic drinks, and trash, and found all of her technology (phone, iPod, speakers, etc.) Oh, and I also found all of the clothes that she had apparently helped herself to when I was in the hospital. This whole time I just thought I had lost my mind when I couldn't find my leggings ANYWHERE. I brought down her technology, went back up to get my clothes, threw them into the washing machine, went back up to get all the half full Sonic drinks, and to throw the rest of her stray laundry that was on the floor of my laundry room into her ever growing pile of clean/dirty clothes.
Somehow the kitchen counter also got cleaned. Pumpkin pie tracks were wiped off the floor. The sink was bleached. Christmas presents were put away. And vases of flowers received fresh water. But I barely remember doing any of that. It was a rondo of a rampage fueled by angry adrenaline, and as soon as I stopped moving I knew I was going to regret it. I could hear both Craig and Allie's voice telling me the spoon story again.
So, now instead of doing fun things tonight like playing games or going for a little walk, I will be sitting on the couch for the rest of the day and back on the pain meds that I had proudly weaned myself off of. My headache has returned, too, and there is no Diet DP in sight.
I'm calmer now. And I don't feel crazy anymore because I thought I had lost my favorite pair of black leggings. And my kitchen is cleaner than it was when everyone left this morning. But it was kind of at a ridiculously high price.
Hopefully we will all be calmer when they get home from church. Hopefully this daughter will figure out how to take care of her stuff. Hopefully I will be a better teacher. And hopefully I won't regret my rampage too far into next week.