Without Me

The day after Christmas, I woke up feeling just a little bit “off.”  At first, I thought I had probably just overdid a bit over the holidays.  But as the day wore on, I felt worse, not better.  My throat hurt, I started coughing and I felt a little achy.  By the next morning, I was well and truly sick and stayed that way for most of the week.  The good news was that I tested negative for Covid three times, but the bad news was that I was absolutely miserable and unable to do anything other than lay around feeling sorry for myself.

4F20ECF8-0FF5-4683-8705-FDA15FC89E5ETypically, I spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve relaxing and getting together with friends and family.  The work of the holidays is over by then, but the decorations are still up, the kitchen is stocked with cookies and other Christmas goodies, and there’s plenty of time to enjoy it all.  I hated missing out on all that, but as the week went on, I also began to feel guilty about all the other things I wasn’t doing:  walking the shelter dogs, keeping up with my blogging, hosting a small family gathering for my out-of-town sister, and even basic housework.  (I emptied the dishwasher one day and then had to go lay down for three hours to recover.)

Even worse, I was supposed to be spending at least part of that week helping my daughter care for her newborn son.  Her husband was working and her older son’s daycare was closed for the holidays, so I had promised that I’d be around to lend a helping hand.  But even if I’d had the energy, I couldn’t risk going anywhere near her house.  I didn’t have Covid, but I was still sick and probably contagious.

So there I was, not only sick but feeling very guilty about being sick.  I remembered how hectic caring for a newborn and a young child can be, and how grateful I was for any and all assistance.  I hadn’t seen my out-of-town sister in months and hated the thought of her going back home without us getting together.  I knew that every day I wasn’t at the animal shelter meant that the other volunteers had to walk even more dogs than usual, and that there was a chance that some dogs would miss their daily walk altogether.  I even felt guilty about not keeping up with the comments on my latest blog post, or keeping up with my friends’ blogs.

The silver lining in all this mess was that eventually I realized that sometimes I’m not going to be able to do the things that others want or need me to do, and that I need to stop fretting about it and simply accept it.  There are going to be times when I can’t live up to either my expectations or the expectations of other people, and I have to learn to be okay with that.  Stuff happens, plans go awry, and sometimes, I just need to go of the ridiculous idea that the world will crash and burn if I’m not carrying my fair share of the load every single minute.

My daughter made it through the week without my help; the blogging world kept right on going without me, and the shelter dogs all got their daily walks.  Go figure.  My sister was even able to stay in town long enough for me to recover and spend time with her, but she would have forgiven me if I hadn’t.  Because the truth is, none of us is indispensable.  Some of us just need to be reminded of that now and then…….

73 thoughts on “Without Me

    • Thanks! And I think one of the reasons I wanted to help is that when my children were young, I had very little help….so I know how tough it can be. I wanted things to be different for my kids! Happy New Year!

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  1. Ann – I’m so glad you are feeling better. It’s a tough week to feel sick – I have always enjoyed the relaxed mood the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s true that we’re not indispensible (it’s a hard truth!) but I’ve come around to knowing that, especially when it comes to jobs. The nice part of not being to help is seeing how others step up, sometimes family members want to do that for us and this is their chance – that’s always made me feel like part of a community. Here’s to a happy and healthy new year! 🧡🧡🧡

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    • Thanks, Barb! I have always loved that week between Christmas and New Year’s, because it is a time when we can simply relax and enjoy the holiday. (I’ll never understand people who take the tree down on December 26.) So I do feel a bit cheated, I’ll admit. But mostly, I’m grateful that I was able to celebrate Christmas and Christmas Eve, that it wasn’t Covid, and that I didn’t pass whatever it was on to my family. I hope you have a healthy and happy new year too!

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    • I think it is! When I think about it logically, I realize it’s kind of arrogant for me to think I’m the only one who can take care of things, but emotionally, that seems to be exactly what I believe. And I know I was lucky that my husband was around to take care of me when I needed it…he really stepped to the plate.

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  2. I can imagine how scary that was until you tested negative. Glad you are better and I can empathize regarding giving ourselves grace when it’s impossible to do it all. It’s hard to learn to let things go.

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    • Yeah, my first thought was, “Darn, I have Covid and I probably gave it to my kids!” So I was grateful to test negative, and keep testing negative. I’ve heard that as long as you have symptoms, you should keep testing, and I was lucky to be able to do that. When I finally got to an urgent care (they’re slammed here), I was surprised that I also tested negative for flu. I guess it was just an exceptionally nasty cold, followed by a sinus infection.

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  3. I feel your pain. I’m sick now and according to the doctor I’m probably positive for COVID but until I get the test no one will know for sure. I tried to get a test appointment – they are scheduling 2 weeks out as the earliest. Crazy! So I’m treating the symptoms and quarantining. And my Christmas decorations are still up and my pantry is looking bare. Looks like I’m going to have to have son#1 make a grocery run for me!

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    • Yes, if you can’t test, it’s best just to assume you have it. And honestly, even if it is a different virus, you still don’t want to give it to anyone. I laid low until a nurse told me I was no longer contagious. I’m so sorry you’re feeling rotten though….if it lasts for too long, see if you can get checked for a sinus infection. That’s what mine turned into, and I didn’t start feeling better until I took antibiotics. Hope you feel better soon!!!

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    • It can be so stressful just to let go of our obligations and take care of ourselves! But sometimes, that’s the only thing we can do, and I think we have to try hard to remember that it’s perfectly okay when we do that. Thanks for your kind comment, Svet!

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  4. It sounds as though you’re on the road to recovery now, and I’m so glad. Even a cold or truly bad pollen allergies can be hard to deal with. It’s true that it’s good it wasn’t Covid, but that doesn’t mean it was any more fun. Extra rest and plenty of fluids are so important — keep those up even if you’re feeling much better!

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    • Thanks! That’s what I did. I was so tired I slept a ton, and laid around even when I was awake. I also drank a ton of water, which helped. Thank you for your good wishes and wise advice! My blog shows me, again and again, just how many good people there are in the world!

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    • They really are, Alan! I think we’re often harder on ourselves than anyone else…and we imagine how upset others are that we’re not helping them, when often they actually understand. Luckily, I’m feeling much better now….Take care, Alan and I hope you have a wonderful new year!

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  5. Glad you’re better now. You are so right, lots of us think we need to be all things to all people. Sometimes it’s almost a relief to know we can slow down, without the world grinding to a halt.
    Take good care of yourself and remember to stop and recharge as often as you need. All will be well. 🙂

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    • Thank you so much! And you know, sometimes I think getting sick is my body’s way of telling me to take a break….because I so rarely do unless I’m forced to do so. Self care is so important, and yet it is often the first thing we give up when life gets hectic. Thanks for reading and your sweet comment!

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  6. There you go again, reframing what could be seen as a negative (none of us is indispensable) into as positive. I think that’s your Super Power.
    Glad you’re feeling better, but uffda…what a struggle!

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    • Thanks, Liz! I never thought of it like that….I guess I just figure there’s so much negative in the world already that I want to add a bit of positive. And yeah, that week was rough! I felt so rotten, and don’t even get me started on dealing with my primary care doctor’s office. They don’t see sick people anymore, due to the pandemic. Which I sort of get, but when the urgent cares are overwhelmed and your own doctor won’t see you or prescribe any medicine, (they were scheduling video visits four days out) it can get frustrating!

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  7. Glad you tested negative and hope you are feeling better Ann. Sometimes, we all just need a break from the routine. As to be indispensable, I had a joke I used to use at work. “I know I am not indispensable, but, I’d like to meet the 3 guys they replace me with. Strangely enough, after I retired, they split the job 3 ways. As long as the doers do, the takers will take and the users will use. Stay well Ann. Allan

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    • It turned out you were right! And I really agree with your assessment about doers doing…once people know you’re willing to step to the plate, they tend to rely on it. (Although I don’t mean my daughter, she’s always grateful for help but never expects it.) Sometimes being “out of commission” is a good thing for not only us, but for those who assume we’ll always be around to handle things. I hope you stay well too, Allan, and thanks for your comment!

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    • It really does….but for those of us who tend to be a teeny bit thick headed (and I’m looking in a mirror when I say this), it sometimes takes a virus to remind us that we’re not the cog that keeps the universe turning!

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  8. Oh, I hate to hear that you were so sick during one of the special times of the year! We moms are the gatherers, but eventually we discover that our children have learned a few things from us about gathering and making good these special times! I hope that you are fully recovered by now and enjoying life a lot more!

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    • Thanks, Martha! I am feeling better….and as disappointed as I was to miss that week, I was grateful that I didn’t get sick on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. And that it wasn’t Covid, because then I would have exposed my kids. So it’s all good, and a lesson I needed to relearn, I think.

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  9. Glad you’re feeling better. And thanks for the reminder that we can’t do it all. I was just about to say yes to something that likely would have made me weekend feel too full and instead offered up an alternative that works better for me.

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    • Good for you, Bev! I think it can be so hard to say no, especially for women, but sometimes it really is the best thing…..for us and for everyone else too. We can’t take care of others if we don’t also take care of ourselves.

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  10. Sorry to hear you were sick, Ann. The isolation can definitely allow the mind to run wild and get a little crazy. But I’m glad to hear you’re back to the world and I can tell how appreciative you are about that!

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    • Yes, it’s amazing how much we can find to worry about when we’re lying around, feeling rotten. I found that watching comedies and reading light books helped my mood, a lot. I think there’s a powerful connection between our physical and emotional well being. I’m feeling much better now, which means I’m also more cheerful. Thanks for your comment, Judy!

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  11. We all need to be reminded once in a while that the world will chug along whether or not we are participating. Sorry you had to get so sick to get the reminder . . . and thanks for passing it to us without passing along the crud. Glad you’re feeling better, Ann.

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    • Thanks, Donna! And yeah, the illness was something I didn’t want to pass on (although my husband got a milder version of it) but I thought the lesson was worth sharing. We really do need to learn to be gentler with ourselves, I think.

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  12. That’s a sobering thought indeed. Absence of one person doesn’t make a difference to the sum total of the wild mass of humanity. Yet, the fretting and feeling guilty about what one couldn’t do makes life worth living for all of us, and others too.

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  13. I chuckled a little because I have a lot of the same feelings; not sure where I got the notion I am super woman but the Lord was the first to say “it wasn’t from Me!” Either way, everything you had planned were all great things, but what a great lesson that things will work out and sometimes we just need to settle down and recover. BTW, you have encouraged me to be a “dog walker.” I have a surgery next week (assuming all this omicron doesn’t cancel it) but when I’m better that’s first on my list: get trained to be a volunteer for a local shelter for dog walks. I can’t wait!

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  14. When I retired from teaching, a kind-hearted colleague said, “Peter, you are irreplaceable.” I am sure it was meant as a compliment, but it was just not true. Someone else took my place and did a great job educating children. When you are sick, accept that you cannot do what you usually do. Let other people do your job. You will be kindly remembered for what you did when you were well. I hope you quickly recover, Ann.

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    • You’re so right! Others might not do things exactly the way we do, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done well. It’s hard for us to remember that sometimes…or at least it is for me….so this was a timely reminder. And thanks for your kind words, I’m feeling much better now!

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    • Thanks, Miriam! It is so easy to set the bar impossibly high for ourselves, and I guess sometimes it takes getting sick for me to remember that I’m not as indispensable as I like to think. Have a terrific new year!

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  15. I’m sorry you’ve been under the weather, Ann, but awfully glad it wasn’t COVID. We all have full plates these days, but sometimes the Powers-that-be deem that we need a reminder we’re not indispensable and we can’t be all things to all people. That’s a hard pill to swallow! The world might turn without you, but rest assured, you’ve been missed!

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    • Thank you! That’s so sweet to say…. It’s nice to know we’re missed when we have to take a break, even when those breaks are necessary for our physical or mental health. Balance can be a hard thing to achieve, can’t it? Here’s hoping I can remember this now that I’m feeling better!

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  16. Pingback: Without Me — Muddling Through My Middle Age – Kastonedigital

  17. Glad to hear you are okay and on the road to recovery. You are so right about the expectations upon us, both real and imagined, and how somehow life goes on and people adapt when we can’t be there to do what we would normally do. May your recovery be swift and be kind to yourself 😊

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  18. I teach a dance exercise that creates routines for us and a recent one had a song in it called “Herbal Tea” and at first I didn’t like the song, but then I listened to the words. It is about slowing down and my favorite line is “Pass the paper, my help desk is out. Who will care for the world now?” I laughed when I first really heard that. Your post reminded me of that. I am so glad you are feeling better and I am even more happy that it all worked out! Happy New Year!

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    • Thanks so much, Terre! And yes, it is a lesson we all need to learn…the world can and does function without us, at least for a little while. I hope I can remember that now that I’m feeling better. Happy New Year to you too!

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