So, yesterday was my red-letter day. The day that I finally made a decision that I’ve been waffling back and forth about for quite some time. I’ll try to make the story (semi-)short, but I do love to ramble so no promises.

I’ve volunteered at my local SPCA for years. This past year, I chaired the governing body of the local branch, as well as a number of committees. I put a huge amount of time and energy into the governance side of things, and I helped out a lot with fundraising and branch support. I had great plans and visions for the coming year, too, and there are big things happening. We are FINALLY opening a low-cost spay/neuter clinic, which will serve both the community and our SPCA animals. We also have a new Branch Manager for the first time in ten years, and he’s from outside the organization. I had a long list of ways that I was planning to help him with the transition. There are other new things happening, and I felt that I could really played a significant role.

Also, I like being an insider. (Dr. W told me on Friday about a theory by Carl Rogers (I think) that involves getting to know one’s True Self and making peace with that Self. So here I am, acknowledging one piece of her.) I like to know what’s happening before everybody else does. And I also like to be a part of what’s going on. If I can play a role in something like getting a new spay/neuter clinic, then dammit, that’s where I want to be. So the volunteer niche I carved out for myself suited this part of me.

But since my chronic illness demons, depression and anxiety, landed me in the hospital, I think I have to focus on my health for a while, making it the only priority. Not to mention, I’m starting an intensive therapy program on Tuesday (three hours a week of class, lasting – I think – fourteen weeks), which I’m sure will involve homework and reading. This will be quite demanding for me. But it will also help me a ton, I think, so it will be so worth it.

(Oh, I guess I should say that the program is for people with co-dependency issues, which HELLO! My name is Muse and I’m co-dependent. More will follow on this program, I’m sure. It will certainly be a big part of my life for the near future.)

Anyway, back to the story. The SPCA has been a huge part of my life, and it’s mission of improving animal welfare is tremendously important to me. And, like I wrote, I had big plans. But the SPCA also been a huge source of stress for many reasons that I won’t get into here. (Roomie is a front-row witness to the effect that being involved has had on me.) For the purpose of telling you about my decision, suffice it to say that I had an event this past Wednesday, and in the time leading up to it, my mood plummeted and my anxiety soared. (How’s that for some overused language?) As soon as I cancelled (and I won’t even get into how guilty I felt about it), my mood started to lift and my anxiety started to ease. And the next day, working on some things that I don’t think that I can abandon, I felt a pain in my chest. My old friend, the anxiety-induced chest pain. Again, I began feeling better once I was done for the time being.

In some ways, I am not a clever person. I usually ignore signals like this until I get to the point where I am in crisis before I stop doing whatever it is that is causing my body to send those signals. For a change, I decided to listen to my body before it has to stage a coup to get my attention. (Aha! Perhaps I am learning… This is one of those lessons that it seems will be repeated until I learn.)

It seems clear that it’s time for me to work on myself (again). So yesterday was my red-letter day, the day that I told everyone (locally and provincially) that I have to bow out. It’s been such a very hard decision, and it’s been really emotional. I’ve been waffling back and forth about what I should do for weeks, torn between what I want to be able to do and what is probably best for me, personally. (I’m not so good at the whole putting-my-own-self-first thing. The concept that my needs are actually valid is something I struggle with constantly. This is one of the things that I think my new therapy program will help me start to work on.)

Ha, so much for the (semi-)short version! Anyway, I tearfully sent out all the emails announcing my decision yesterday, and then I spent some time crying over the replies.

I am still not sure I’ve made the right decision. Or maybe it’s that I just can’t accept that I’ve made the right decision. Since I’ve been going back and forth endlessly on the subject, I decided that I should just send out the emails. Having done that, it will be a little bit harder for me to go back and again change my mind. I will feel silly if I backtrack now, which might be the incentive I need to follow through and look after myself.

I will eventually get involved again, but maybe in a different way. It might be nice to just be a dog-walker for a while. Two hours a week where all I do is play with dogs, never mind the political factors or the interpersonal garbage that has happened this past year. I’ll have to see. In the meantime, I’m sad about the choice, and angry that I have to make these kinds of choices. And wistful about not being an insider anymore (to acknowledge my True Self).