Friday, January 29, 2010

Standing Up For Myself

I’ve never been very good at standing up for myself. I’m one of those people who is too nice and hasn’t learned to say no. My dog might disagree, but it is true.

It took me eight months to admit to myself that my two doctors were not going to strike up a relationship and start working “together” on my case. One of the doctors just wasn’t interested.

Why did it take me so long? Well, I like both doctors. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Ah, HELLO Ashley, this is about your health NOT your doctors feelings or egos!

Now I am stuck in an even bigger bind. One that effects me daily and it involves family, never easy.

My sister’s boyfriend, the father of her 11 month old daughter, walked out 3 days before Thanksgiving. My sister had to get a job ASAP!

Over the Christmas holiday our parents rushed to the rescue. Before they left my dad gave me the hard word, “You aren’t going to leave are you? Your sister needs you”.

I suddenly found myself a full time nanny. My sister is gone 10-12 hours a day! I am struggling. My very supportive family seem to have forgotten that I wasn’t just sleeping the days away because I had nothing better to do. I am sick.

A few days ago my sister complained about the grocery bill. She pays for the food. I watch the baby, do the shopping, take out the trash, and have dinner ready when she gets home.

I wanted to yell at her. This maybe the most money she has ever spent on groceries, but it is the cheapest childcare she is ever going to get.

I said nothing. No, that is a lie. I told her she could wait to pay me back for the groceries until next week.

The part of this mutually beneficial plan that was supposed to benefit me (moving closer to my doctor) never happened. That was the only reason I stayed here instead of moving to Tahoe where my husband is (4 hours away).

I feel like I am abandoning my sister and letting my dad down, but I can’t do this. I need to put me and my health first. I need to respect myself and my limits.

I need to establish boundaries and stand up for myself to my doctors, my family and my friends. I’ve never really done this before. This is a good skill I am developing, one that will benefit me for the rest of my life. It’s something I never would have learned if I hadn’t gotten sick.

If I want to get better, to be healthy again, it is more than just my Lyme ailments that need to be resolved.

Ashley van Tol


sweetnika said...

praying for you... it is SO hard when loved ones place unrealistic expectations upon us. When we feel their needs so deeply with in our very souls,that the fiber of our being hurts for them, and feels obliged to help... But knowing, learning, how to help them, by letting them, learn that we too are people with lives, and souls and needs our own, that need tending and caring of.. is challenging.. I am praying for you to stay strong in your resolve, and to be loving and gracious as you follow through in it.. Blessings as you travel HOME to your husband in Tahoe..
you are LOVED

Kim said...

Oh Ash, I didn't know you were going through all this. Sooo, sooo hard. But sounds like you're going in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Thank you ladies! I broke down and told my mom I couldn't watch Gabby like this. She did understand. My Aunt is going to start helping, and my cousin is coming over this afternoon.

I am moving to Tahoe at the end of February. I want to be with my husband, I should be with him. We will make it work to come down to the doctor. I actually know a girl who lives in Tahoe and sees my Dr.

Alix said...

Ashley, I had no idea this is how your childcare situation came about. I don't know enough about your situation but your obligation is first to yourself, then your husband, then your extended family. If your sister wants free childcare while she works, she needs to live near you and your husband, not prevent you from being with your husband. What a heart-wrenching situation.

Some in my extended family also have no understanding of my illness and it is more than maddening. Though I enjoy "passing" as a well person when I'm out and about, it would make our lives easier if our illnesses showed. No matter how many times I explain that excess sleep and following a special diet and taking my supplements are the equivalent of a wheelchair, allowing me to do a lot of what well people do, they never get it because they can't see it.

Let me know what I can do to support you. xoxo

Unknown said...

I am so sorry you are going through this. You need to focus on you and getting you healthy. It isn't your job to take care of your sister and her child even though I am sure you wish you could. This is your health you are talking about and it is important. I hope things get better. Take care

monkey girl said...

I used to be one of those, 'yes' people, always trying to appease and keep the peace within the family.

Guess what? It doesn't work. Or I could say, it does work, but you'll end up hating yourself for it...just like I did.

Learning to say, 'no' takes practice, practice and more practice.

I first started saying no when I hit 30, but I always felt I had to follow it up with a good excuse as to why I was saying, 'no'. It took a couple of years before I realized I could say, 'no' and leave it at that...and when people asked, 'why' I said, 'it doesn't work for me' apologies.

I know with family it's especially hard. However, there's a huge difference between helping your sister out and doing everything for her...are you doing her laundry?

You'll push yourself and in the end you'll only get sicker...and still there's a chance your family will not understand, and you'll have to eventually be ok with that.

I ignored my symptoms for years and tried to just push through the pain and fatigue...but it always catches up with you.

Best luck with your situation, I've been there.

Anonymous said...

Laundry is one thing I am not doing. I am so bad about doing my own, I am use to my husband doing it. Laundry is one of his jobs along with cleaning the bathrooms.

I can't wait for the day that I can say no and leave it at that. I can do it. When it gets really out of control, I am really good at telling anyone the way it is and the way it is going to be. It would be much easier if it never got to that point though. I've lost a few friends in the wake of some of those confrontations.

Thanks for being here for me girls!