An Exercise in Self-Care

You know, I’ve learned a lot about myself during this sober journey of mine.  But I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that self-care is not the same as self-ish.

I come from a very long line of selfish and self-absorbed people.  As a result, I tend to shy away from anything that says “me” and if I do occasionally indulge in some semblance of self-care (how’s THAT for an alliteration) then I feel guilty about it.  I remember how I felt when it was all about my mom or my dad and never about me.  I went a long way to making sure none of my children EVER felt that.

Maybe I went too far.

I know I went too far.

But now I realize that exercising a little self-care is not only a good thing, it’s essential for making me a whole and healthy human being.  It’s okay to say no sometimes and to take a little “me” time.  It doesn’t mean that I’m not available for my kids (or friends or whomever), but it does mean that they get to see me take care of myself and maybe, in turn, they will learn to take care of themselves as well.  They will learn to set healthy boundaries and turn out even happier and healthier than they are now.

At least I hope so.

It’s not easy though.  I still feel a tremendous amount of guilt when I do anything for myself.  For example, I’m working long and crazy hours right now.  Last night my family waited for me to eat dinner but when I got home I wasn’t hungry and I wanted an hour of yoga time (which is better on an empty stomach).  I didn’t say anything at first but after everyone got their dinner, I let them know that I was going upstairs and to go ahead and eat without me.

Oh the GUILT!  I felt awful (at first).  I am a HUGE proponent of the entire family eating together and since the kids are older that doesn’t happen very often anymore.  To have them all there…waiting for me…and then have me ditch them!  Oy.

Here’s the thing…they could have cared less.  They were just happy I was home at a decent hour AND that they didn’t have to wait any longer to eat.  Everyone kissed and hugged me and told me how glad they were to see me and to enjoy my yoga session.

Now I ask you, who is the fucked up one in this scenario…THIS GIRL!

But I’m learning.  I didn’t let the guilt stop me (because I REALLY NEEDED that time) and by the time I was done I felt 100% better.  I was more present than I would have been if I had ignored my needs and isn’t that what’s important?  Not just that I’m there, but that I’m actually present when I’m with them?

See…told you I was learning.

So this weekend I will repeat my behavior of last weekend.  I will do exactly what I need to do for me while still being there for my family.  I will put on my own oxygen mask before putting on theirs. 

Because we all know that the world will stop spinning on its axis if anything happens to me.

Okay…so I still have a little more work to do.


5 thoughts on “An Exercise in Self-Care

  1. This so hits home with me! Thank you… I need work in this area too, though I am happy to say I'm improving! Progress, not perfection. I am finding that when I take care of me physically (4 mile speedy walk every morning and my own best-for-me diet), and mentally (time spent after work being creative in my sewing/quilting room), I am a much more peaceful and grounded person and I have more compassion for my family members and their needs. Amazing. Win/win. Have a great weekend!

  2. You are getting it, beautiful…never feel guilty about taking care of yourself…we love you for who you are in the moment and in every moment of your life….you can make it happen…I love you very much and support you with all my heart and soul….as do all the members of your family…trust me!!!

  3. I went through a long period with terribly low standards of self-care (not washing, not changing clothes, etc) and yet I was very much self-centred, if not selfISH… the 2 do NOT necessarily go together, just as you say!

  4. Great post. Taking care of ourselves makes us more available to the ones we love–another of life's weird oxymorons! But I think women in general have a hard time with this. Most of my life I felt I had to be the one to hold it together, but of course that is impossible. Eventually I got tired, burned out, and resentful.

    I really believe the gift of middle age is realizing these truths.

    Good for you on the yoga.

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