Self-love!!! Looking after ourselves when we need it most.
I haven’t written any posts for almost a month, it was partly a conscious choice and partly just life taking over. September was a busy month both personally and professionally, and a lot going on in that little head of mine. When I started the blog it was a great relief to get all those thoughts out, it didn’t really matter that only a few people read them, it’s a form of cheap therapy I suppose. The things I wrote about had been on my mind for a while, I had ruminated long enough and needed to move on from them. Getting them out on paper helped me do that. I had also made some big decisions and wanted to think about those. I started writing this article about looking after yourself and putting yourself first a month ago, after a few different conversations with friends on opposite sides of the argument, but then a major life event interrupted that… I went on holidays!! 😉 You can tell it has been a while since I’d been on a real do-nothing, sit-in-the-sun holiday!
Now I had to be talked into it, by my sister, and in turn my mother, but after a hectic summer with only 3 days off I thought “Hey, maybe you should give yourself a break, stop worrying about the cost and just go away!” The promise of blue skies, some warm sun and no cooking for 7 whole days seem like bliss and after three months of intense adolescents, the fact that there would be no teenagers there either was also a bit of a plus 🙂 The break did me the world of good and I hit the ground running on my return, back to sports classes, took an office space to help get out of the house more and I even started a part-time job, just in case I might not have enough to do.:-)
I took time out. …for myself, and you know the sky didn’t fall and the business didn’t go bust, and let’s face it the dog had more fun in kennels playing with her friends than she would have had at home with me! We often don’t do that, put ourselves first…or at least not without guilt attached. Sometimes you just gotta be kind to yourself. We worry that we should be doing something else, helping someone else or at the very least not wallowing. But you know those days you have where you’re in agony from the moment you wake up, where the heatbags are sitting up paying attention on the kitchen counter ready to go into action and the box of painkillers isn’t far away. The kind of day where everything seems like a mountain to climb, rather than a street to stroll down. Those are the days we need to be kind to ourselves.
The reason I was pushed back into finishing this today was due to reading a message from one of the women in the Endometriosis Support group. The group is run by volunteers like so many things, and they have their own lives to deal with too. Her message was private and I’m not going to break that trust but the main point made me think. This week, just one week, she and the other admins were not able to put as much into it, give as detailed responses because, guess what, they had to look after themselves. Some were in great pain and another was away on a much deserved break. It felt unfair that she should have to somehow justify, or more so explain their absence, and its not even a full absence, just a partial one, they had to do part-time hours this week, so-to-speak, and that’s ok. (Though I understand why she said it as many of the women, myself included, rely on the group for support and for reliable information). They put a lot into the group, through comments, general support and provision of resources and information. They give so much of their time to help support the other women suffering, and maybe sometimes we on the other side forget that those women are not only juggling work and family but they are also dealing with this very cruel disease, and like all of us some weeks are tougher than others. But they are right, we need to take a step back and look after ourselves, because otherwise we are no use to anyone else, least of all ourselves.
So take some time out for yourself, give yourself a bit of “self-love” every now and then! For some people that would be a day in PJ’s watching tv and just doing nothing. When you tend to spend a few days each month like that, that’s not really time out, that’s not a treat!! So pick something else, something you can do on a good day. Do whatever you enjoy! When I moved back here a year ago, and I wasn’t in the best of places I decided I was going to do something that was just for me, that would be the carrot that would get me through each week. I picked two very different things. For one, I started French classes to keep up my French. I really enjoyed my Tuesday mornings with the ladies (and gents this year!) where we chat about all sorts of things from politics to film, and everything in between. Their French is very good and I love hearing the stories they tell. There’s no book and no exams and it’s 1h30 of Me-Time and I love it! The other thing was to join a Bootcamp class, and while you could debate that sweating your butt off twice a week might not be Self-love, it’s a great source of those little endorphins 😉 and I also thoroughly enjoy it… no class is the same, my favourite part being the end of class 😉 Only kidding!!, But all jokes aside, that’s when the sense of achievement kicks in and I feel good about myself.
Sometimes self-love can be simply taking a step back from the madness for a few hours, stepping off the carousel and steadying yourself. Maybe it’s walking away from the job that causes you too much stress and spills over into your life. For people with a chronic illness, sadly looking after yourself can sometimes also mean stepping away from a toxic friendship that only causes you grief and never provides support. One little change can make all the difference.
And while we are on the topic of love, well Diana Ross had it right, you most certainly can’t hurry love! I mentioned on another post (All the Single Ladies) that I joined a dating/matchmaking agency and was about to go on a date with Match number 2, no 1 having been a disaster! Match number 2 went exceeding well 🙂 a very enjoyable evening with a guy you couldn’t help but get on with. Driving home Neil Diamond was on the radio and I took it as a sign!
Four weeks later, our 3rd meeting ended and not the way I would have hoped, malheureusement, but there was no weeping and gnashing of teeth either. If it was a Hollywood movie, I’d have driven home to some emotional love song, while he sat in his tastefully designed apartment, drinking a beer and mulling over his decision, while snapshots of us laughing on our dates would have played in the background. If it was a Hollywood movie he would have regretted that decision before he finished that beer, (and because in movies drink-driving laws don’t apply), he would have hopped in his car and arrived at my door to tell me he had thought about it, life was too short and really what did it matter that we lived in different counties. In real life a guy showing up on your door at 1am is either a stalker or a booty-call, so I probably wouldn’t have been impressed with either. I might have been touched by the romanticism of it all, but might also have thought…a text would have sufficed 😉 I’m disappointed of course, but I’m not heartbroken. It was lovely to have some male attention from a genuine person who was entertaining and enthusiastic. You can’t argue with that. Maybe another date would have been nice but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. So I’m gave myself a day with a bit of tv-binge watching on the couch and the day after things didn’t seem so bad.
How often do you meet someone who is positive and energetic and interesting? Why is it always that my Prince Charming is geographically challenged or just lost? I think I might be destined to wait for Mr Darcy for another while, while he mulls over that GPS investment and gets it together! Having watched the new Bridget Jones movie, I realise there’s hope for us all, and maybe there’s a Dr McDreamy in the meantime.
So onwards and upwards, if today is not a pain-free day for you, if there are aches and ouches that will just not disappear, reach out for a little bit of self love, it comes in all shapes and sizes! From the shiny red box of Nurofen Plus, to the multicoloured heatbag turning slowly in the microwave. It’s that extra fluffy white pillow that sits just right, tucked in behind your back or the soft fleecy blanket on the couch. For those of us with canine comfort mine’s small and black and the perfect size for the couch. Take the love where you can get it, be nice to yourself, be kind to yourself and don’t feel like you need to justify it. As Bing Crosby said:
You gotta ac-cen-uate the positive
E-limi-in-ate the negative, latch on to the affirmative
And don’t mess with Mr In-Between!