I have had to do a lot of thinking lately. Some reflections have been conscious and voluntary, others have been somewhat forced on me… but this really is a time of major growth and personal reflection and I am at a real turning point in my life… where I really am aware that decisions I make now will impact the rest of my life.
It took some time to end my marriage, primarily because I thought I was the broken one. That somehow if I tried harder, that somehow if I just worked longer hours and poured all I had into things, tried to modify myself to fit… that I could somehow force it. The assumption that the way I felt was all about my attitude and laziness and was somehow my fault and was even fixable was a naive view, but still, I held it. That the failure of my marriage was my fault.
I tried really hard. Both of us tried really, really hard and both of us are good people who just worked too hard at something that was simply a matter of incompatibility. I didn’t cheat. He didn’t cheat. Nothing happened. In fact, it was the day I said, out loud, that I wasn’t happy and we needed to separate, calmly, that I knew that this was for real. It took me a long time, after 2 years of relentless, clusterfuck-style life-shock after epic life-shock that I came out the other side and realised that I was a different person.
I am on my own for the first time in my life. The first time in my life. I lived alone for about 8 months when Jason and I broke up in 2000, and I dated, and lived alone, but for the first time ever, I am truly on my own. And by this, I mean, responsible for myself with no-one to back me up or bail me out.
And it’s weird.
Because I realised, with a fairly crushing and overwhelming force, that I have some pretty significant deficits as a functioning adult. I am injury prone, reckless and forgetful and I had absolutely no idea to what extent that was till I actually had to live with consequences, and without someone in the background, constantly making sure that I remembered things, or reminded me when I was being reckless, or could remind me of the time (I have no concept of time). In the few weeks I have been out on my own, I have cut myself, bruised myself, locked myself out of my house, lost my temper from mess, lost my temper from workload & juggling… and you get the idea.
I have always been so vocal about my independence… how I am A type. How I am a “high achiever”, how I can do it all, etc etc. And now, I realise that no-one can truly do it all without someone in the background making sure that it happens. There is no such thing as a self-made person.
I have ADHD. I have gone through a crapload of testing. I have gone through a crapload of medication trial and error. I have crippling autoimmune disease and a suspected blood clotting disorder. My autoimmune disease has some symptoms similar to MS, especially around cognitive function and clumsiness. I used to be a functioning person. Used to be an athlete. Used to… well… used to do a lot of things.
The ADHD stuff really is an umbrella for so much in my life and I have realised that I am not coping well with the everyday pressures of being on my own. Jason used to do things like plug my phone in to make it was charged. He would make sure I had my car keys or the house keys. He would make sure I remembered to set alarms, take medications. He would walk in at 11pm and tell me the time so I knew. He would clean up after the kids so that I wouldn’t be stressed out about disorganisation when I am already struggling to pay attention. I quite literally had a little fairy that would follow me around to make sure I didn’t kill myself.
I didn’t realise I even had these deficits in functioning until I was on my own and had to take full responsibility for my own life. My phone is never charged, I forget to set my alarm, or I accidentally leave my phone on silent when I set it. I am easily sitting up till 5 & 6am, with no concept about the passage of time. I am good at getting my work done, of course, but I am still in some ways struggling with the overwhelming amount of small bullshit tasks I didn’t even realise… I was being propped up.
That 8 months where I lived alone? I had a bad flu, fell asleep on my lounge room floor in front of the heater and my blanket caught fire. I lost 3 wallets and locked myself out twice. And tonight, I rang my ex and I told him that I acknowledge and appreciate the “fairy godmother” role he played without me even knowing. I also made it clear that it didn’t mean I was going back, but a mere acknowledgement that I understand.
So now, I have to put strategies in place to overcome these things. I have an ADHD diagnosis. I have health problems that prelude me from being able to be this A type person I always thought I was… so I need to come to a point of acceptance and say “hey, this is what I need to do to function”. I also need to stop seeing my ADHD issues, and my physical limitations of “becoming crippled” as a failure.
They aren’t failures, per se. They are facts of life that I need to acknowledge and work with. I need to take drugs for the rest of my life. There is no way around it. There is no point getting upset about it because it WILL NOT CHANGE. I will never be able to run a marathon or swim to Rottnest. I will never be able to go to Medical School and I need to accept it as a fact and let go. I will never be able to fully cope with the structures of the world around me because of the way I process information.
I need to accept that I am a good person. I am not a failure and my marriage ending was no-one’s fault.
I will need to accept that I cannot do it alone.
I will need to accept that I need to put strategies in place to help me achieve the things that “normal” people take for granted.
I will need to accept that I am a human being, not a robot. And that if I continue to push myself to my limits, I will die a premature, painful death.
I will need to accept that I need to be more controlled and rigid in the activities I choose. I need to learn to manage my time and my finances more effectively.
I also need to accept that even in spite of all of these strategies, in spite of all the drugs, in spite of all my best efforts… that sometimes… I will STILL fuck up. The strategies I put in place can help it to happen less often, but I will still fuck up. And I am not a failure for it.
And I need to stop being angry about being sick. I need to stop being angry about the almost $900 a month in non-PBS medications I need to take to function. It is what it is. I can take it, or not take it, but there is not point in complaining and stressing about it. I cannot afford it, but I need to find a way to work with it. And, when I need to take 2 days off because I am unwell, despite even the best of treatments, I need to be kind to myself and not let clients bully me.
I need to learn to accept my body and work within the parameters of my disordered view of my body and appearance.
I need to be more assertive and learn to say no… even when I want to do things, or give time, or offer… I keep doing it at the expense of my health, my finances (way too much free or discounted work which is stopping), my time with my children and ultimately, my life. And it just can’t happen anymore.
So, this week, I am working on getting stuff done. Allocating time for everything. Setting alarms. Filling my Calendar to the brim, everything, even the meals I forget to eat, scheduled. In the hope that I can train myself to function and leave time in it for me to actually live rather than exist. My expenses are incredible right now and I’ll be honest, I don’t know where the future lies. Child support, medication, debts & rent alone are insane. But, rather than complaining about it, I can’t change it, so I’ll need to start rolling with it, moving to accept that I need to earn $2000 per WEEK before I even start to do anything fun… and get on with finding the best way to do it.