Saturday, February 9, 2019

Aspiring Recluse

This is a bit of a whiney post, but …

I have this friend who is a shut-in, health issues and poverty keep her confined to a basement apartment that she shares with her son. They both love my dog. They used to live just up the street from me and several years ago I got into the habit of taking Hapi to visit them and E would feed Hapi dog treats. I usually went around supper time because E's son didn't get home until then and I wasn't up for going there much later than that.

Anyway, they moved to the next town over but wanted me to continue to bring Hapi to visit, at suppertime. Now it involves a 15 minute drive on the highway one way and in the wintertime I am driving after dark and sometimes in bad weather. I have cut back the visits to twice a week rather than almost every day, but E notices and comments that I don't come often enough and do I hate her, has she done something to offend me?

Since the town they live in now is where all the big box stores are I usually try to combine the visit with grocery shopping, but I have to say it is my least favourite time to shop. Last week I didn't go for the whole week, due to bad weather and a mild sinus infection that sapped my motivation.

Another friend's father is 102 years old and just got out of the hospital after a bout of pneumonia. He's OK, but my friend tells me he is fading fast. His 103rd birthday is coming up in March and we think that anticipation of that celebration is his primary motivation in staying alive. I like this man, I have known him for well over 40 years. He's in an extended care home and I'd like to visit him while he's still around, but trying to schedule that around my visits to E is problematic. At first I thought I could do both in the same trip but then realized it was just too much. I still haven't managed to get over to see him yet.

I feel guilty that my ability to be helpful and compassionate is rather limited, I get impatient with it all rather quickly. I just want to be left alone, I don't want to be running around helping people or visiting them because they are needy.

I spent all of last week (when I was staying home not visiting E ostensibly because of the sinus infection) thoroughly enjoying sitting around reading and sorting through my accumulation of useless junk. Being home alone and without responsibilities feels like a holiday in paradise.

I get out with Hapi every morning for about two hours. I often meet other dog walking ladies, which pretty much satisfies any need I have for social interaction. When we get home she expects water and a treat (she doesn't come indoors and her water bowl freezes if I leave it out so I have to bring it in and out all day), then I have to remove all the winter clothing and put it away and then bring in a load of firewood for the day.

By the time all that is taken care of it is lunchtime. If I don't have errands to run or household chores to take care of then the afternoon is free time, although once a week I go to one of book club, needlework group or bridge club. I have my writing group on Friday mornings which means Hapi's walk gets postponed until the afternoon. She howls when I leave her behind on Friday mornings.

Due to increasing insomnia I have great difficulty getting enough sleep. That means I don't want to go to bed late and thus I don't want to go out in the evening. I do go out occasionally, but I pay for it in sleep deficit for a couple of days after.

I'm really having a hard time with this. I am at heart a petty selfish person who does try not to be, but at the moment petty selfishness is winning.


Rain Trueax said...

I think this comes down to boundaries. Establish yours and do not feel guilty. I know it's hard as the world wants us to feel guilty but if your health suffers, who can you help?

Annie said...

Rain, it does sound like a boundary issue, but I am not sure exactly where to draw the line That's what makes it difficult. Easy to see in someone else's life, not so easy when it's your own. But good feedback, I'll consider what to do about it.

Wisewebwoman said...

Annie we do have choices. I have to shepherd my time carefully and can't be around people who are too needy. I just don't have that much to give and need a lot of energy for myself alone.

I have never viewed you as selfish in any way. Having read your blog for years I see you as very giving. But as Rain says above you need to set limits. Do any of these "visits" spark joy in you at all? Or is it all just duty?

Hapi takes a fair amount of energy and your "me time" needs to be honoured.

I have a friend of 93 to whom I have cut back my visits as it was utterly depressing and I would feel out of sorts for a whole day afterwards. I no longer feel guilty. I had to take care of my mental health.

Big hug.


Cheerful Monk said...

My heart goes out to you. Learning to say no is hard, even when you need to for your own health. The very fact your are feeling guilty, agonizing over it, means you are not a selfish person. As we get older we have to ration our energy otherwise we will have nothing to give.

Take care and thank you for your posts.

Annie said...

WWW, I hear what you are saying. I am endeavouring to make better choices but as Cheerful Monk says, it is hard. An overwhelming sense of duty. Conditioning.

My neighbour, an older widowed male, seems to have achieved "recluse-dom" without losing friends, but I suspect that men can get away with that much easier than women. Nobody expects them to be out there caring for people but it is definitely an expectation of women.

Joared said...

Just be straight forward and tell them you can no longer make these trips for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with how much you care, will continue to be concerned about them. Your getting older and just have to alter your activities — eliminating this travel is necessary, then stick to your decision. You don't have to feel guilty.