About this time one year ago I found myself in my car in a parking lot shoveling a Big Mac, fries and a giant coke in my mouth in record time. I must have chewed because I didn’t choke, but I didn’t enjoy it. I was relieved by it for a minute; like a hit for an addict. This was about halfway through my 15-year-old daughter’s recovery from jaw surgery and I had lost myself. My mom came to stay with her so that I could get a few things done and instead I ate myself into a food coma and then felt disgusting afterward. Looking back now I was buried under an avalanche of my own creation.
Recovering from jaw surgery is no small feat and my girl was a trooper. She had both her upper and lower jaws reset; the lower one was shortened and straightened to fix a severe underbite and crossbite. Her upper jaw was widened and repositioned. Thinking about that still makes me shudder. Her jaws were wired shut for 12 days and she could only consume what would fit through the wires. None of the story I’m about to share really has anything to do with her. It is about all the bullshit I was telling myself.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you will know that I am a recovering perfectionist...and my perfectionist took over around the surgery. In some ways her presence was a positive, I draw on that energy for planning and details. But, where the perfectionist wasn’t helpful was the beat down that she inflicted on me during the whole process. I should also say that in addition to being a perfectionist I am a worrier. That is something that I work on regularly but in this case I got sucked under. Fast.
The week before the surgery my husband was out of town. It was also the week before school started for my younger daughter. I was juggling doctor’s appointments, back to school prep, surgery prep and then we got lice.
This was the week that I lost myself.
I put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. I ran myself ragged trying to get everything done (perfectly). I had prepared as well as I could with my perfectionist dictating my every move, all while trying to keep things as normal as possible for my younger daughter. I was overcome with worry, wasn’t sleeping, and my exercise routine went right out the window. Junk food was my solace and self-care was completely non-existent.
I had some idea of what the hospital process and recovery would look like. And while I was terrified to bring her home the morning after the surgery I had an idea of how that would go. What I didn’t expect was to be swallowed up completely by caring for her and moreso by my thoughts around caring for her. I was exhausted, couldn’t get enough sleep, depressed, and felt completely overwhelmed by the constant needs on top of the normal demands of life. I should note that she was a really good patient. All of my suffering revolved around what my inner critic, my inner perfectionist was telling me about myself.
Click here to find out what I learned from this boxing match of critics, perfectionists and me in part 2 of this two part series.