As I pulled my comfortable cotton undies up over my hips, my thumb poked a hole in them. Not a small hole. No, a huge thumb-all-the way-in-sized hole. I looked up at myself in the hotel mirror and didn’t recognize the woman staring back at me. Where was the woman who strongly encouraged her readers to only wear underwear that made them feel pretty? As I looked at the stranger with raggedy hair staring back at me with vacant eyes, I knew where she had gone. Fortunately for me, I was driving home from the conference I had been attending that day. The day-long drive gave me time to think. And think I did.
Neglecting Self-care Has Consequences
For the past four months I was so busy taking care of everyone else -both family and at work- that I had put my own self-care and needs aside. I began to ignore the warning signs that my reserves were being drained such as being angry all of the time, being unable to focus on anything, gaining 10 pounds way too easily, and binge watching extremely violent television shows instead of doing what I needed to be doing. Homekeeping was neglected. We sat on the couch eating dinner instead of at the table. But worst of all was that I wasn’t fully present with The Mister during those times we were together.
I was not the person I wanted to be. In fact, I was the antithesis of who I wanted to be. I was an angry holey-underwear wearing woman with more lumps under my clothing than Jabba the Hutt with half-painted toenails because my pedicure was growing out and I was in desperate need of a hair cut.
In the process of taking care of everyone else, I had lost myself.
The World Didn’t Come to an End
As I was doing my deep thinking during my drive home, I came to the realization that I need to redefine who I need to take care of. I came to the conclusion that I need to take care of The Mister, me, and my family. Everyone else fell into the want to and feel obligated to categories. And I also realized that the folks in the feel obligated to category probably won’t even notice if I stopped taking care of them. I was making myself feel guilty if I wanted to take care of myself or spend time doing something that nourished my soul instead of giving up my own time busting my backside for them.
So, instead of going to work the day after I returned from the conference, I took the day off. And I went and got my hair cut. It was just 3″ off the bottom but it made me feel better. And I bought new undies.
And then on Friday, I went to work but decided that whatever I was able to get done during my working hours was good enough (I just took a peek at my work email and the world did not come to an end because I stopped work at the end of normal business hours on Friday).
I spent yesterday “nesting” and sewing and hanging out with The Mister and have been restocking the freezer today with healthy breakfast options I just need to reheat before eating (like steel-cut oatmeal and spinach-egg frittata).
If I had a serious illness, no one would think twice about my need to take care of myself so that I could fully recover. But, as women, I think we make excuses and feel selfish if we need to engage in mental and physical self-care so that we can be healthy.
But if we aren’t ruthless about protecting our need for self-care, then we use up our reserves and are of no use to the people we love…including ourselves.
So that I can once again recognize the woman looking back at me in the mirror and become the glamorous woman I want to be, I will be ruthless about engaging in self-care.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some half-painted toenails to attend to…
Have you ever been in the same situation where you wondered who it was staring back at you because you were so burnt out? What kind of self-care did you do to replenish your reserves?