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#72103 - 12/26/04 02:50 PM Re: Daphne Stevens, Ph.D. soulful midlife
Daphne Offline

Registered: 07/30/04
Posts: 40
Loc: Macon, GA
You haven't overwhelmed me at all, Nancy, and I suspect that there will be some resonance among the women on the forum.

As you may know, my mother is now in the end stages of Alzheimer's Disease. It's Christmas, which magnifies whatever family dynamics are there; losses seem greater and grief is more acute. The anxiety and tension among family members (whether it is unconscious or conscious) seems to heighten when we are facing major illness, death, or big holidays--and Alzheimer's is a particularly cruel disease, because it goes on for so long.

I must confess that when I went to my parents' yesterday, all my wisdom about balance and self-care went out the window. I was totally consumed by guilt and anxiety--about what I "should" be doing differently, about the clarity with which I saw my mother's decline, and about very extraverted way that my family members celebrate. I would have been much more comfortable with a quiet, peaceful Christmas, instead of loud talk and manic activity, and the determination to bring my mother (who is immobilized in a wheel-chair or in the bed, and barely speaking) to a table surrounded by 14 very active people.

But I have to accept the fact that I'm not in charge. I have to forgive myself for what may be limitations, and realize that my brothers and my father and other relatives are getting through this in the best way they know how--very bravely, with lots of noise and bravado and fanfare. It's not the way I would choose, but I admire them for being true to themselves--and I need quiet time in order to stay healthy.

It sounds like you're doing wonderful work, if you're able to give a week to the Alzheimer's Association. You of all people can empathize with the many ways that family members respond to this situation, and your work is an inspiration to me. My experience is that we often can be the most effective when we offer support to people who have walked a similar path to our own. It's important, too, to get support for yourself. A support group, a therapist or a coach who specializes in working with grief or families and who has some knowledge of Alzheimers could be a life-saver for you during this time, too.

I'm glad you've joined the forum, Nancy. And I hope everyone is enjoying some post-Christmas recovery time today. I'm planning to get out for a long walk, put chilie in the slow cooker to accommodate the crowd of grown children congregated in my home, and settle down in my study by the fire with a good book.

Anyone else want to share about your Christmas, or how you're recovering today?

#72104 - 12/26/04 10:22 PM Re: Daphne Stevens, Ph.D. soulful midlife
Sadie Offline

Registered: 10/08/04
Posts: 1274
Loc: MD
What comfort you have brought to me. My hands might be tied with my mother ,but not my mouth . I want to do the right think by her and will continue to do so until her last breath . Only thing is that I miss this lost time so far away from her. Time that will not be made up at all. I will write about this soon. That is for the new year for me. To bring light to darkness and to help others . Thank you for just listening ..

Lv, Nancy

#72105 - 12/27/04 02:42 PM Re: Daphne Stevens, Ph.D. soulful midlife
Lynn Offline

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 621
Loc: pennsylvania
Hello Daphne,
I tuned in late, actually I do that alot. I am technically perimenoupasal because the "blood test" says so. I am tryign the pill to relieve heavy menstaral bleeding. Am giving it one more month to see if it works, if not, hysterectomy this summer.

I am 46 and have a 6 year old. So I am definitely in a different place than most women my age. The empty nest syndrome is far away.

But I am the confident woman now who can give to a child in a way that I could not in my 20's and 30's. I have many rich life experiences and feel like I might have retired first then started the life-work thing.

My priority is my family but I must also work to help provide. My husband had pnacreatic cancer surgery 15 months ago. I am told by pros that he won't live out the year. On one hand I say "humbug" he is doing great. But I find I won't make plans pst his next scan (every 3 months). I want to go downt the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon but can't make the reservations because it would be after his next scan and who knows what? Terrible way to live and my work for 2005 is to try to overcome this anxiety.

I also must work outside the home in a place I don't really like becasue it penalizes you for having a family and making them a priority but I have great beneefits and seniority. If I become a single Mom I will need all of this to get by. So leaving is out of the question. Living with the guilt placed upon me is getting very old.

I have not read your book yet but am odering today. I dont know if all of this even relates to your book but is relevant to my status in this mid life.

What can you comment upon a midlife Mom with a kindergartner, a screwy cycle and a terminally ill husband? Although husbnd is getting along fine it is the threat that makes me make certain decisions. GEEZ, do you have a couch and charge by the hour?


#72106 - 12/28/04 11:13 PM Re: Daphne Stevens, Ph.D. soulful midlife
Lynn Offline

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 621
Loc: pennsylvania
Daphne-Have I left you speechless?


#72107 - 12/29/04 02:07 AM Re: Daphne Stevens, Ph.D. soulful midlife
Daphne Offline

Registered: 07/30/04
Posts: 40
Loc: Macon, GA
No, Lynn, not speechless--just deeply respectful of your circumstances. Ironically, my delay in responding is because it's so easy for me these days to get totally caught up in the cycle of dealing with my mother and my family. Like many situations, there is nothing really to do. I'm a relatively minor player here--no power to make decisions, no freedom to do much except hover and worry. It's a silly thing to do--it doesn't serve anything or anyone-- keeps me in old family patterns that I thought I'd relinquished a long time ago. Humbling!

Facing a rocky menopause can be a major ordeal. The hormonal fluctuations, physical pain, uncertainty, and simple nuisance of endless menstrual bleeding is big enough to handle. Add that to a husband who is facing a significant health challenge, your own anxiety about the emotional and financial future, and a little one who continues to need you and can't possibly understand what's happening--Goodness! I hope you're getting lots of support from friends and healers and loved ones. I hope people are bringing you meals and offering babysitting services. I hope you are paying special attention to your own health, too.

I'd encourage you to take your own care just as seriously as you take your husband's and your daughter's. Easy for me to say, especially since you are working full time. But consider any time you spend in self-restorative efforts--walking, massage, yoga, acupuncture, meditation, or any other ways you have of cherishing yourself--to be money saved in your energy bank. Your family will be blessed, and you'll be strengthened to meet whatever each day brings.

If you can begin the day in whatever way you pray, do that, too. Some days you may find only the energy to light a candle. Others, you might take a cup of coffee into a special space in your house that feels peaceful and comforting. Sip the coffee (or tea), allowing yourself to be aware of God's simple companionship. Then thank Him for the grace to meet him there. Do a reading or say prayers or write in your journal. (I like the suggestion of a "gratitude journal," listing 5 things for which you are grateful. You'll be surprised at how the list strengthens you and shapes your perceptions). Do it in a spirit of rest and renewal and curiosity about how God might make His presence known to you this day.

My prayers go with you, Lynn. I'm glad you've joined this forum.

#72108 - 12/31/04 05:12 PM Re: Daphne Stevens, Ph.D. soulful midlife
Dotsie Offline

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Daphne, I say amen sister. Excellent advice for our dear friend Lynn. If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. You have to take care of yourself Lynn so you are full and capable to care for your guys.

Daphne, on page 94 you mention knowing the difference between despair and wisdom in relation to being alone and being with others. I can totally relate to that. At his point in my life I know when I need to be alone and quiet and when I need to be in the midst of others. It amkes all the difference in the world.

I think women don't take enough time for ourselves because we are always caring for everyone else. Unless I take the time at my kitchen table with my journal, Bible, and prayer list I get scattered and disorganized. Everyone needs time to get centered. Then we are better able to make a difference in the lives of loved ones.

I managed for years without my quiet time, but I didn't realize the PEACE I was missing.

I wish everyone a more peaceful 2005. [Big Grin]

[ December 31, 2004, 02:14 PM: Message edited by: Dotsie ]

#72109 - 01/01/05 05:35 PM Re: Daphne Stevens, Ph.D. soulful midlife
Daphne Offline

Registered: 07/30/04
Posts: 40
Loc: Macon, GA
And amen to that! Let's hear it for a peaceful 2005--in our hearts, in our families, in our communities, in our world.

I really believe it begins in our hearts.

So we've gotten through the holidays. We've begun to put away Christmas decorations, to reclaim our space, and to settle down. New Year's resolutions seem kind of silly--in my book I call them stories we tell ourselves. But I do find it useful to reflect on the things I want to let go of this year, and the things I want to invite into my life.

This year I want to let go of spending time with people and projects that drain me. I want to invite more time for reflection and prayer, and an increased sense of balance.

Any thoughts about that from anyone else?

#72110 - 01/01/05 06:42 PM Re: Daphne Stevens, Ph.D. soulful midlife
Lynn Offline

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 621
Loc: pennsylvania
Daphne, I too would love to spend less time ont he people who drain me. Unfortunaely, my boss is a drainer. So hard to eliminate that one!

But time is so precious that it is important to find the balance between alone rejuvenating time and time pent with friends and family.

I too, am looking to find a bit of balnce in my life in 2005. The blance between love and money, family and me. I am a giver and will give till my tank of energy is drained. I am working on keeping a bit in reerve and then filling up before it gets empty again. Sounds easy but it is very hard for me to do.

I am also going to work on a better physical me with diet (not too bad currently) and keep the menopausal rages to a minimum. I'm really not sure how to do this but I hate it and need to find a more peaceful way to handle the hormonal fluxes.

You speak wisely of working on ourselves in the coming year.


#72111 - 01/04/05 11:57 AM Re: Daphne Stevens, Ph.D. soulful midlife
Daphne Offline

Registered: 07/30/04
Posts: 40
Loc: Macon, GA
Yes, it's especially hard when we have to spend time with workplace "drainers" since we share their space for such concentrated periods of time. But it might be helpful to see your boss as an opportunity to create clearer boundaries around yourself.

"Drainers" drain less when we give them less feedback. It's helpful to build an "energy wall" around ourselves--to pray for emotional and spiritual protection, to imagine a wall around ourselves (line it with imaginary rose-buds; when someone steps over the line, see yourself offering one of your roses--but don't give away your own energy).

I once resolved that I wouldn't get hooked into any negative comments or take on any problems that weren't my own with a particular co-worker. It was hard! I realized I was wanting connection with her, so I kept responding by trying to please--or joining her in complaining in an effort to be empathic. Once I realized my own negativity was draining me, and continually asked myself, "Is this my problem?" she got less effective in draining me, and eventually found another prey.

But sometimes office drainers get to us. The best option then is to transfer to another department or find another job. (Easy enough to say when the economy is good, or when we're younger. I realize this can be a problem in itself.)

I'm wondering about other kinds of drainers. Family members can be the worst, since we genuinely love them, and we want to be of help and support. Anyone else have thoughts about how to deal with energy drainers? (One of my clients once called them "feeders." It's a pretty good word, since they're often hungry for something we can't possibly give them. . )

#72112 - 01/04/05 01:17 PM Re: Daphne Stevens, Ph.D. soulful midlife
jawjaw Offline
Da Queen

Registered: 07/02/03
Posts: 12025
Loc: Alabama
Some time ago, I read an article about "drainers" and the negative effect they have on us. The author explained that we pick up the negative traits or habits sometimes simply to "belong" to the group or person, depending on the circumstances. I agree totally with this.

I was a parrot for a while (hard to believe, isn't it?) with a particular person I hung around at work. We not only socialized at work, but outside of work too. Then after reading the article, I realized that everything that came out of my mouth sounded just like her, and more importantly, it was negative. I realized that half the things I complained about weren't even valid. For instance, someone might say, "How you doing today?" and I would respond, "Oh I guess I'll make it." What a downer...good grief. I could have just as well said, "Great! And you?"

I stopped right then and started listening, really listening to her conversations with others and made mental notes of what would have been my response to these conversations BEFORE I realized I had become a parrot.

I didn't like what I saw. I had not only become a daily whiner, but I had lost my own identity. Why had I done this? Because I wanted a buddy, a pal, someone to travel with, that had common interests, and habits. She was ideal for this, if you overlooked the negativity. I had become so use to it, I hadn't even noticed I had become HER.

I pulled back from the socializing, both work and home. I started doing things with other people, and found that I enjoyed myself a lot more. One of the things that helped was when I quit smoking. She smokes, so that was my initial excuse. After a while, she found another "buddy" and moved on. Thank goodness.

I am much happier, I am my own person again, and I am a little bit wiser. The constant negative responses are gone, or more or less controlled by me now, and I view things in a better light.

I hope this experience helps someone else. You know I don't normally share personal experiences with you all unless it has some humor attached to it. But this is important I think. At least I can say it has changed my outlook and life is brighter now! The old saying, "you are who you hang with" is soooo true. Anybody else found this in their life?


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