“Take Care of Yourself”

Do you sometimes think, “if I had a dollar for every time someone tells me that . . . “.  We say it to each other in times of distress because we desperately want our friend/loved one to be okay. My friends helped me ‘take care of myself’ and I hope the same is true for you.

I’ve done enough online reading to know that many of you are working full time, have young children or teens, and a myriad of responsibilities to shoulder while you go through this. I truly have no idea how you’re doing it. I had the ‘privilege’ of clearing my slate and making the wholeness of me and the hoped for restoration of our marriage pretty much my full time job.

Proverbs 13:12 says that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. A long lament. For me physically this meant significant weight loss, frequently feeling faint (went ‘down’ only once but was rather epic!), development of poor posture, insomnia, and a heightened level of anxiety. Here’s some more ‘lived’ advice.

Accept invitations.  I’m not talking ‘dates with other men’,  but invitations to do things with others as much as possible. It takes discipline and often feels forced so you may be tempted to decline or cancel.  I remember joining a couple for the rehearsal of a sold out Christmas play in our city. They love my husband and I dearly, and this invitation was one of the many ways they were caring for us. It feels weird to go out with couple friends as a single.Do it anyway! A line from one of the actors that night was, “my circumstances do not define who I am”.  I am still being shaped by it statement. God will meet you in unexpected ways – consider invitations by loved ones as His inviting you on a date and expect a gift from Him.      

Your posture.  A long lament has a way of causing your body to fold into itself. A year into this ordeal I caught myself in the fitness room mirror and realized that my shoulders were very rounded. My instructor suggested I go to physio (there’s a first for everything!) and the PT found hard knots in my upper trap muscles and gave me exercises to strengthen my mid back muscles.  I also went to youtube and learned tips on how to improve my posture. This week my husband mentioned that someone from his work had commented on his poor posture and he asked if I could help him with that. Of course, and would you like a massage to go along with that?  🙂  His long lament too has affected his physical appearance and we’re having fun fixing that!While we’re on this subject may I kindly mention that a proper fitting bra can do wonders for you at any time, but now would be a really good time to make sure you’re good in this area. You want ‘the girls’ living upstairs where they belong which at our age likely means calling in ‘the reinforcements’. Sports bras are great for casual wear especially if you’re an active type, and for the rest of life please invest in some uplifting comfortable support! It will help your posture AND improve your appearance. I always knew that men are visual, and I’ve looked after my appearance, but through this I have been attentive to what kind of appearance works visually for MY husband. This book helped me understand this truth as well as other truths about what makes men tick.  Remember what I said back in my June post.vYou gotta be prepared for changes, lots of changes. This is an opportunity for growth in every dimension of your being.

Sleeping pills.   During the worst of this I could not sleep and I’m pretty sure this must be how it is for others. My predilection has always been for natural remedies, but none of those were working. My doctor prescribed Sublinox. I would carefully choose the two nights a week that I would take Sublinox and they worked so well. This whole area of sleep is a mystery to me. I was begging God for sleep and it simply would not come for me naturally.  No sleep, not even when I tried to nap.  I still don’t understand why He didn’t answer my pleas for sleep. Mystery.

Physical activity.   Wherever you are on the whole physical activity spectrum I’m a little bird chirping in your ear – “do a little bit more”. Okay, if you’re obsessed with fitness then maybe not, but I highly doubt you are in that category, at least during this ‘pit of hell’.   Exercise really works!  Do a bit of indoor and outdoor fitness if at all possible. Be consistent and keep building on what you’re already doing. If you’re shy about going to a gym then find some youtube routines to do in the privacy of your home and do what you can.  Find some music you like and get your body moving – the combo of the tunes and release of endorphins will do wonders for you.

Read ‘outside of the box’.  There’s stuff you’ve wanted to learn. Take some time to read about that.   God will use this to expand your imagination and overall knowledge. Through nothing short of a miracle I ended up re-training for something entirely new to me. It was definitely bigger than me. Much of my reading shot off in this direction, and God used this as a significant piece in my husbands interest in dating me again. Again, mystery. A friend sent me this quote of John Keats, “there is nothing stable in this world; uproar’s your only music”. The changes you have to make in the midst of this uproar are immense and sometimes feel insane, but when you’re trusting God they will come together like a beautiful tapestry – He alone knows how to weave the threads, and He alone can work with the knots you create when you unravel some threads in the pain of the journey.

Pray.  I’m assuming that you are already praying lots. Make your life a prayer. Please. I told God last spring that I was a desperate woman and I was going to listen for Him like never before. I was counting on Him to speak to me and I would do what He told me to do. I was going to count on Him to keep my hope alive and to protect that hope. Romans 15:13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I wanted to learn to TRUST GOD like never before and that meant I was going to have to listen for Him and then do what He told me to do.  When I strayed from this, He carefully orchestrated mercy and those mercies felt like manna from heaven. The stories I have to tell . . . and so do you, or so will you!

One last piece: in the lead up to leaving you, your spouse will have tons of inner conflict which will show itself in increased anger, ‘no-one home’ eyes . . . . awful emotional pain spilling out onto you.  Once they’ve left I believe they experience some euphoria, great relief  . . . . this is going to be the answer to their pain. NOT, but they don’t know that yet. In their contact with you please be prepared for very cold comments – they will tell you that there is something wrong with you because you’re taking this so badly. You have issues, problems, insecurities, etc., because you can’t get your head around why this is good for both of you. Please fake a calm demeanor. It’s what they have to do in all this mess. Find your place of comfort asap, but when communicating with your spouse it’s all calmness.  They won’t remember half of the dust they raise – selective memory or not, I don’t know, but you need to find comfort and times of relief in order to keep going.

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