In terms of practicing self care, there were about a thousand things I can think to do that would be nice to do for myself prior to Corona virus taking over the world; I could’ve book a massage or bought some new music or got my hair and nails done. Those things were ways of physically pampering myself, but I don’t know that they’re my definition of “kindness.”
To be kind, I have to stop being an asshole to myself.
What is the most miserable act that I engage in? Well, it’s something that creeps in, steals my happiness and ability to like myself, and makes me to worry about what I am doing wrong, but gives me no idea how to fix it.
What causes the most hurt is self-loathing. I question all my abilities. I compare myself to other people; people I have nothing in common with. I judge myself by television and movie standards. I beat myself emotionally when I don’t live up to those lofty goals.
The kindest thing I can do for myself is to practice self-acceptance.
In the Serenity Prayer, “we ask for serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
After many years (and God knows how many sessions of therapy) I have isolated a few things that I am going to accept about myself RIGHT NOW.
- I am an introvert. I feel more comfortable alone or in the presence of just a few people who know me well. Sometimes, I feel downright overwhelmed in a big group. I will never be a socialite. I will never want to spend my free time with a ton of people, part of group or committee or (gag!) team. I was the kind of kid my mother had to force out the door to play with the other kids. I am not going to suddenly develop a big, loud group of friends to go out with, nor will I feel a need to invite them over for fancy parties.
And you know what? I don’t have to feel like an asshole for that.
- I will never have a perfect, spotless, well-organized house. You know that button, “a clean house is a sign of a wasted life?” It’s kind of like that. It’s a total waste of time to fluff pillows and re-stack coasters when they’re just going to get messed up as soon as I sit down to relax. I don’t understand the need to have “everything in its place.” Sometimes, I mop my floors once a month. I only mop the bedroom floors once a year. I forget to clean the bathtub for weeks. I have piles of unread mail, toys and library books on every table. I only dust when I move something and suddenly you can see where the dust ISN’T.
And you know what? I’m probably not going to change. This is not about cleanliness. My house isn’t filthy. There aren’t piles of old food laying around or trash on the floor. I pick up and do dishes and sweep up crumbs. Occasionally, I wipe everything down. I do the basic things and keep the house from looking and smelling like a garbage dump. I have better things to do than worry about the dust bunnies under my bed.
- I’m getting older and it’s okay. When I was 20, I weighed 90 lbs. I hated that I couldn’t seem to gain weight no matter what. I had tiny boobs and I wanted bigger boobs and a nicer ass. And I remember being 25, happily seeing that I’d filled out. Then came the baby…I turned 30, and now I cannot believe how easy it is to gain five pounds. All I have to do is look in the window of a bakery and my buttons start straining.
At 20, I didn’t need to exercise. I worked a lot of overtime. I ate a ton of fast food. I came and went as I pleased. I’d easily get up for work after being out all night. I was fine on two-and-a-half hours of sleep. I am not that girl anymore. Now, I’m in bed by 10 and still drag for most of the day. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck when my kid wants me to chase her. I get nauseous if I eat too much junk food.
I am not going to get any younger. Those days are not coming back. It’s time to stop treating my body like I am still a 20-year old.
- I am not a perfect mother. I am going to stop feeling neglectful because I didn’t make my own baby food. I don’t worry about organic produce and I allow my kid to play in dirt…OUTSIDE!
I never even ONCE considered not getting my kid vaccinated and I didn’t childproof my house at all. You want know why? Because I survived childhood. My parents never even CONSIDERED any of these things.
And guess what else? I bottle-fed my kid: COW’S MILK FORMULA. I tried the alternatives and she was colicky anyway! Everywhere you turn, there are people who “tsk tsk” at other parents for making different decisions than they did for their own kids. I don’t give a shit about that – I did what I think was right for my child and I will not feel bad about it.
When I was pregnant, I realized that Ben and I both had perfectly good childhoods; two totally opposite types of mothers. We each needed therapy anyway. I resolved try to do what I think my kid needs me to do. If what I do doesn’t match up with what the Mother Of The Year Committee thinks is best, that’s okay.
I am sure there are plenty of ways that my inner asshole will attempt to undermine my self-confidence. But maybe if I accept these things about myself, maybe the simple act of accepting and allowing my small imperfections, will empower that other part of me. The one who actually LIKES who I am.
I’m going to kill the self-loathing with kindness.
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