Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Managing expectations

Managing expectations can be difficult when you live with a chronic illness or disability, mine being a complex congenital heart defect (CHD). It's not just about what others expect from you, but about what you expect of yourself. I would like to think that by now my close friends know me well enough to understand the reasons I can't always make it to social events. Simple things like no parking close enough to our destination will mean I either can't go or I need a lift so I can be dropped outside the restaurant/venue, or that I will simply be to exhausted by the end of the evening to drive myself home! Even being a little quiet at some point while I'm in social situations makes me feel like I'm being rude when the truth is that I have to shut down for a while to recharge my batteries as socialising is exhausing for me. All of this can make you feel like you are letting people down (repeatedly sometimes) or even being a bit of a nuisance. I believe however that the hardest expectations to manage are those we put on ourselves.

I frequently get cross with myself if I've not managed to achieve the list of things I planned on doing on a particular day or weekend. Some days it's hard enough just getting up, showered, dressed and doing work without the extra chores we all have to do around the house. I work from home which suits my health brilliantly but also leaves me feeling that I should have more time to do household chores than other people. I'm very lucky that I get a lot of help around our house from my other half, he does all the housework I can't physically manage anymore or really struggle with. He also does all the dog walking, with me just joining them when I'm able to manage it. Sadly that's hardly ever when the weather is cold! I'm terrible for comparing myself to other people and wondering how they manage to do everything they are doing as well as in many cases having children too! I don't get half as much done and we don't have children (unless you count our naughty puppy)! So what I'm trying to practice lately is being a little kinder to myself and not setting my expectations too high. It's good to have goals but it's also important for me to understand that I can't always do it all. I'm managing to run a small business and going for numerous blood tests and hospital appointments frequently. Our home is comfy and cosy, and most importantly it's a happy home. So does it really matter if I haven't managed to get to the florist this week for some fresh flowers or bake the cake I keep saying I'll do but still haven't got round to making, or that our garden looks a mess, or the bathroom isn't gleaming? No, it doesn't, it doesn't matter at all!

I'm going to try to gently remind myself that I may not manage as much in a day as other people, but everything I do manage is done with a single ventricle heart and incredibly low blood oxygen levels and all the symptoms that come with it. As long as my work gets done and our house is in some sort of decent order I should be happy with that. I'm not going to tell myself off any more for not being like other people, and I'm not going to feel guilty for needing more rest than others. This was a New Year's resolution I made to myself and slowly but surely I'm getting the hang of it. My world can't, and doesn't always look like an Instagram photo. So I'll applaud the times that do look and feel photo perfect, and I'll pour myself an extra cup of tea and remind myself that I'm doing okay on the days that aren't so perfect.

Be kind to yourselves.

Much love,
Tanya x

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