Messages in a water bottle

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In the past three months I have curled in a few competitive events. During these events I have lost three water bottles, one of the lost bottles was a replacement bottle!

For most people this may not seems like a big deal but for me it is so out of character.

I will turn 54 years old on Monday and the only other item I can remember losing was a sweater that I left behind the last day of sports camp when I was 8 years old. I was upset about the sweater, the water bottles makes me think something is out of sync.

I was chatting with a fellow curler after our Monday morning game about my role as caregiver to my 85 year old Mum who has dementia and lives with my husband and I. We were discussing the stress that caregivers experience and how we hit the wall and don’t even realize it.

As we were sharing our experiences I mentioned losing my water bottles. I told her “You know you have hit the wall when you lose three water bottles in less than three months!”. We laughed and I thought, OMG, I have hit the wall or bounced off the wall with caring for my Mum.

As I walked out of the curling club there was a quiet calm that came over me.  I had to process the meaning of losing the water bottles and to seriously look at what it meant.

Over this past week I have taken stock of what has been going on over the last five years in my life to get an idea of what ‘stressors’ I have been dealing with.

Just over five years ago my Dad and Mum moved in with us because Dad’s prostate cancer had advanced. My Mum already had short term memory issues due to a brain bleed in 2001.

Between November 2009 and March 2015 I have experienced:

  • caring for my dying father while taking care of my memory impaired Mum
  • dealing with the aftermath of my Dad’s death
  • having a parent living in our home 24/7
  • working with my Mum and rehabilitating her where she could take care of herself and be comfortable staying on her own for short periods of time
  • getting our house renovated for renters and rearranging our lives for a move to Edmonton, Alberta that in the end didn’t happen (that story could be it’s own blog post!)
  • the heavy responsibility of caring for an aging parent, with memory issues
  • our dog passing away and dealing with grieving process (or not)
  • watching my Mum’s memory deteriorate to where she doesn’t know whether it is night or day
  • Mum being diagnosed with dementia and the heart ache of watching a loved one become someone else because of a brain disease
  • grieving for my Mum, in what they call, the “Long Goodbye” as her brain capacity diminishes
  • the challenges of trying to have my own life, personally and professionally, while being a full-time caregiver

Wow, what a list!

Now don’t get me wrong, I have also had some wonderful experiences in my life in the last five years. The reality is that they don’t offset the day to day grind and stress of caring for a person with dementia or short term memory loss.

The stress becomes such a constant in your life that you don’t recognize it…

I also feel very strongly that life expectancy increases when parents live with their children, if circumstances allow for it, and like everything in life, there needs to be a balance between caring for your loved one and caring for yourself.

As an introvert, empath, highly sensitive person the overwhelm of having my Mum living with us and taking care of her feels at times beyond challenging.

There are days when my poor introverted self feels so prickly. Not enough sleep or time alone, constantly trying to process everything my Mum says out loud, adrenal fatigue, fuzzy thinking, not being present, difficulty concentrating and that list could go on and on.

I thought I was keeping my head above water with everything but the reality of losing the water bottles indicated something quiet different.

It was a sign from the Universe that my life was of course and I had to figure out what I could do to bring my life back into alignment. (I am generally a quick study but in this instance it took three water bottles to get my attention…).

After some pondering and processing, bringing my life back into alignment includes:

  • looking at the reality and accepting what is showing up in that moment
  • getting my head wrapped around who my Mum is on any given day
  • quiet alone time not ‘doing’ anything just ‘being’
  • more writing time
  • letting go of the frustration, anger and fear that comes up with caring for Mum
  • increasing my creative endeavours
  • recognizing that I now have to schedule date nights with my husband
  • putting my needs  and wants first

This re-alignment list will be posted where I can see it and I will refer to it daily.  In time with a whole lot of self compassion and patience things will be rebalanced.

As I put things back into perspective I am reminded that my Mum really is a living miracle, my husband is one in a million and that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this point in time. The gifts in my life are numerous and I am so grateful!

The messages from the loss of the water bottles (and the sweater) show me that overwhelm (not enough introvert time) was running my life, the stress levels were off the charts and that I need to nourish my introverted self, mind, body and Spirit.

Looking deeper into the meaning of bottled water, I can see that my life needs to be flowing not bottled up. Have the stresses in my life created a bottle neck where things can’t flow or feel like they can’t flow? You bet.

Being aware of this deeper meaning allows me to address what creates a closed container, how I can open that container and helps me to let my life flow. That is a much better feeling to be sure.

Thanks Universe for the reminder! I love how you roll.

What indicators have shown you that your life is off course? What do you do to re-align your life?  Please feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Messages in a water bottle

  1. Oh Helen, that phrase ‘the long goodbye’. What a heartbreaker. So glad that you have started to focus on your own needs; it doesn’t diminish the love you have for your mum just because you need a bit of mental ‘time out’ now and then. X

    1. Thanks Penny! Self care is front and centre for me. It allows me to be more present with my Mum and our relationship is on a more even keel. 😉

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