Self-care is a multi-layered endeavor. Brushing your teeth, taking pills, and exercising are all basic bodily care practices that when we are new mothers, seem to be more than we can manage. But eventually we get those done too. I have taken the past twenty years to really delve into taking care of my mental health. To this end, I’ve had a therapist I see regularly, I’ve scheduled procedures to take care of the aches and pains in my body that weren’t normal, and I finally asked for an anti-anxiety medicine prescription.
I ask myself what else do I need to do to let me know I’m taking care of me? My inner child has begun to trust me and understand that even those things I really don’t feel like doing will make me feel better about myself soon enough. With the pandemic uprooting our family routines, I lost a bit of my self care rituals to fear. I had just begun to lose some unwanted weight, feeling pleased with myself, when lockdown happened. And I ended up putting that back on and then some. And the children being at home completely messed with any of my schedules to create and write for myself regularly.
So I began again. I asked to double up on my anti-anxiety meds. I spoke to my therapist about how I was refusing to let go of the clothing that didn’t fit in my closet but that made me unhappy. And she encouraged me to give myself permission to be where I was and how I was at this very moment. Which was enough for me to begin the next phase of my self care.
I cleared the closet out. One box of too small, next Fall clothes was made. Several bags of see ya’ later alligators were made. And a hopeful Spring/Summer set of clothing for 20 pounds lighter was stored into a chest of drawers.
There was something going on that I was doing in all the closets. I was letting go of things that no longer pertained to me or benefitted me. Old camcorders and snowpants, arm braces and shoes that no longer had a use were pitched without a thought. It was like I was tossing anchors that tied me to a past that I no longer was living. And on this purge’s heels, I came to another conclusion. There were people that I had previously said yes to that I needed to now say no to. I said no to volunteering realizing that I’d never have done that if the pandemic hadn’t shown me how I really wanted to live : without hurry and scurry. And I said no to taking care of my Mother in the way that became a deficit for me and felt as if I was being taken for granted.
I got my mammogram/booby squash. I got a shot for my trigger finger. I got my hair professionally dyed which felt like the best big-girl decision I have made in a long time because it looks amazing and it thickened my hair back up. I look like a rockstar in the morning and I love it. Then I went to get a procedure done and was tossed out of the operating room for high blood pressure. I thanked them for not killing me and I am on both medicine and and getting treated for the trauma with EMDR to desensitize me to the blood pressure cuff. And I am now doing the Noom food and psychology program which is exactly the way that I’m going to be able to use my brain to get through losing this weight and maintaining the weight loss further on.
And lastly I have begun to create and recognize my creativity since day one of 2021. I believe the number one medicine to cure what mentally ails is to create regularly. I am involved in the 100 Day Project creating pictures on 4 x 4 paper with watercolor pencils daily until sometime in April. And I am committed to writing blog posts twice a week. These changes have been gradual and I notice how much more confident I feel. I refuse to ask my kids to have permission to parent them. I work through the resistance around doing things and find the joy. And I am grateful to have the foresight and the skills to take care of myself well enough to model it for my children.
I hope that by describing all of this, others can take inspiration and hope from my self-care practices that are a little deeper and more necessary that just getting a pedicure. Speaking of which, I need to do that as well !
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